Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

Below are general questions and answers about COVID-19. Employers and brokers can download our Client & Broker FAQ here.

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a newly identified strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that was first detected in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms. Some are mild (fever, cough, shortness of breath), but the virus can lead to more severe respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, especially in people with co-existing medical conditions. Based on information that is currently available, symptoms may appear 2 - 14 days after exposure. People can infect others up to 14 days after exposure.

How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes; this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, however.

Should I wear a face mask?
Even if you feel well, the CDC now recommends wearing a non-medical cloth face mask that covers your mouth and nose when you leave your home while conducting essential business, such as grocery shopping or going to work.

It’s estimated that 25% of COVID-19 infections may be caused by individuals who are not showing symptoms and are unaware that they have the virus. The CDC says that wearing face masks could slow the transmission of the virus, and prevent people who have COVID-19 but are not yet showing symptoms from unknowingly spreading it to others. Most importantly, you should continue to stay at home whenever possible and practice good social distancing to protect yourself and others.

If you do not have a mask, check out the CDC’s page Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. You can also find tutorials on YouTube that show you how to make homemade face masks using bandanas, scarves and other materials.

Do not attempt to purchase higher-grade N95 masks. These are reserved for hospitals and health care workers who are facing severe shortages in PPE (personal protective equipment).

And remember—wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. If you must leave your home for essential items, avoid crowded places and continue to practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others.

Is a vaccine available? Will the flu vaccine protect me from COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine that prevents COVID-19. The flu vaccine, which offers protection from the flu, will not protect you from COVID-19. Researchers are currently working on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, but it may take 12 - 18 months before it is commercially available.

Is there a test for COVID-19?
Yes, the CDC has developed a test. Your health care provider will work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

What should I do if someone offers me a COVID-19 test? Is this a scam?
Government agencies are receiving reports about scammers offering COVID-19 tests in an attempt to steal personal and financial information.

If you receive a call or email or see an online advertisement from someone offering COVID-19 tests, please do not respond; this is fraudulent activity.

If you are feeling unwell, please call your doctor’s office. Your doctor will determine if you need a COVID-19 test and direct you to the appropriate facility.

Is there a treatment for COVID-19?
There is currently no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider or pharmacist about what they can do for symptom relief.

If your health care provider thinks you can be treated at home, they may give you special instructions, such as to isolate yourself as much as possible from family while you're sick and to stay home for a period of time. If you're very ill, you may need to be treated in the hospital.

If you think you or a loved one may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider immediately.

What is social distancing?
Social distancing is one of the most important ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve.” This public health practice includes:

  • Staying at least six feet away from other people 
  • Avoiding group gatherings and not playing sports in parks 
  • Working from home and not going into the office 
  • Shutting down schools and promoting online learning or classes 
  • Connecting with loved ones virtually instead of in person 
  • Canceling or postponing large group gatherings such as conferences, concerts or sporting events 

“Flattening the curve” means using practices such as social distancing to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection. This will help ensure that health care providers and hospitals have enough room, supplies and other resources to care for those who are ill.

What is a quarantine?
Quarantines are for people who have been exposed to an illness but do not have symptoms. They are kept away from other people so they don’t unknowingly infect anyone.

You may be asked to self-quarantine if you have recently returned from traveling to a part of the country or the world where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, or if you have knowingly been exposed to an infected person. Health experts recommend a self-quarantine period of 14 days.

What is isolation?
With isolation, people who are sick with an infectious disease are separated from people who are not sick to keep the sickness from spreading. Isolation can take place at home or at a hospital or other care facility.

Where can I get the latest information about COVID-19?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)