Coronavirus FAQ


General Coronavirus FAQ

  • What is coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Because this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, including any changes in the risk assessment.

  • How does COVID-19 spread?

    There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

    The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

    Learn more about how COVID-19 spreads from the CDC

  • Who is at greatest risk

    While people of all ages and backgrounds have contracted COVID-19, those at higher risk for severe illness include those 65 years and older and people with serious underlying medical conditions. They should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.

  • What about health care workers?

    Health care workers are on the front lines of this pandemic, and are advised to be especially vigilant in caring for their patients and themselves while protecting their families.

    Latest CDC information page for health care professionals

  • What about precautions for travelers?

    American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been in one of the countries with travel restrictions for entering the United States in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States but will be redirected to one of 13 airports. After you return from one of these countries, you should stay home and monitor your health. All other international travelers, please follow CDC instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow spread of this virus.

    CDC instructions for returning from international travel

  • How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?

    People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.


Symptoms and medical attention


Universal CDC recommendations

  • What are current CDC recommendations for everyone?

    The CDC is urging everyone to do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by following CDC recommendations:

    • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others in case you are infected but do not have symptoms.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are considered critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by CDC.
    • The cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.
    • CDC continues to recommend that people try keep about 6 feet between themselves and others.

    The White House “Slow the Spread” guidelines [external PDF] are in place until April 30. These are part of a nationwide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 through the use of social distancing at all levels of society. On April 16, the White House released Guidelines for Opening Up America, a phased approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies, get people back to work, and continue to protect American lives.

  • What are CDC’s tips for social distancing?

    Follow guidance from authorities where you live.

    • If you need to shop for food or medicine at the grocery store or pharmacy, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
      • Use mail-order for medications, if possible.
      • Consider a grocery delivery service.
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, including when you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store.
      • Stay at least 6 feet between yourself and others, even when you wear a face covering.
    • Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, such a friend’s house, parks, restaurants, shops, or any other place. This advice applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults. Children should not have in-person playdates while school is out. To help maintain social connections while social distancing, learn tips to keep children healthy while school’s out.
    • Work from home when possible.
    • If possible, avoid using any kind of public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.
    • If you are a student or parent, talk to your school about options for digital/distance learning

    More information from the CDC on social distancing

  • Why practice social distancing

    COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19.

    It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. COVID-19 can live for hours or days on a surface, depending on factors such as sun light and humidity.

    Social distancing helps limit contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces. Although the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get and spread COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread and protecting themselves, their family, and their community.

  • What is social distancing and why is this important?

    Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

    • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
    • Do not gather in groups
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings

    In addition to everyday steps to prevent COVID-19, keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its spread locally and across the country and world.

    When COVID-19 is spreading in your area, everyone should limit close contact with individuals outside your household in indoor and outdoor spaces. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

  • What about dealing with stress and the human needs for social connection?

    It is very important to stay in touch with friends and family that don’t live in your home. Call, video chat, or stay connected using social media. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult.

    Tips for stress and coping from the CDC

  • How can I minimize my risk of contracting COVID-19?

    The CDC’s recommendations are aimed at keeping risks low with attention to cleanliness, proper protection and distance from others. Handwashing, face coverings and social distancing are the key practices all people are urged to follow at this time. Below are specific tips and information.

    • Clean your hands often
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
      • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
      • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
      • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. NOTE: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
      • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
      • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker, to preserve the supply for those critical needs.
      • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes
      • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
      • Throw used tissues in the trash. o Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Clean and disinfect


  • What is the Nevada State Public Health Lab’s (NSPHL) role in COVID-19 testing in Nevada?

    COVID-19 testing is provided by both public health labs and private labs. The NSPHL at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) serves the entire state providing an array of testing services including infectious disease testing, both for doctors to treat patients, and for purposes of outbreak management, such as COVID-19.

  • How is the Nevada State Public Health Lab (NSPHL) addressing the shortage of collection kits, or testing kits in Nevada?

    The NSPHL is now manufacturing and distributing anywhere from 500 to 1,300 specimen collection kits for COVID-19 testing, per day. Most days NSPHL manufactures an average of 1,000 of specimen collection kits for COVID-19 testing. A quality control process is in place to ensure high quality, accurate testing. The specimen collection kits manufactured at the NSPHL are distributed to health districts and hospitals that request them. In turn, the NSPHL performs the COVID-19 tests received from the health districts and clinicians focusing on testing symptomatic people and people in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

  • When is antibody testing coming to northern Nevada?

    The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL) anticipates antibody testing to start in late April with limited testing in the first two weeks. The NSPHL will use its initial tests to first evaluate or "validate" the accuracy of the test, prior to any medical or public health use of the tests. After antibody testing accuracy has been determined, availability will increase gradually in the following weeks.

  • Can I order an antibody test?

    Just like with a COVID-19 test, patients will need to contact their doctor or clinician for an antibody test. Doctors and clinicians will determine who gets tested, where patients can get tested and how the tests will be administered.

  • How is antibody testing done?

    Antibody tests are administered two ways:

    • Point-of-Care Rapid Diagnostic Tests, which involve a finger prick of blood.
    • Lab-based Tests, which involve a clinician drawing blood from the arm and sending to the NSPHL or another public health lab for diagnostic testing.
  • What steps are being taken before distributing antibody tests for clinical and patient use?

    Before antibody tests can be distributed to clinicians for clinical and patient use, the NSPHL is verifying the accuracy of the tests. The NSPHL’s first priority is to utilize antibody tests to gather public health information about the pandemic's scale in Nevada to better the value these antibody tests will have for clinicians and patients.

  • If you were infected with the SARS-CoV-2 infection that causes COVID-19, will antibodies provide you with full immunity, some immunity and for how long?

    Scientists at the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL) at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) are in the process of researching antibody testing and the immunity of recovered COVID-19 patients, as part of a public health population study, in order to gain critical data needed to determine if antibodies will provide full immunity, some immunity and for how long.