What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is caused by a previously unrecognized coronavirus, called COVID-19.For more information about COVID-19 please visit:
What is the status of the COVID-19 outbreak? Am I at risk?
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment can change daily. For the latest global situation report please visit WHOs website https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/. The latest national situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page COVID-19. For current information concerning Florida visit the Florida Department of Health website.
What are the symptoms and signs of COVID-19?
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Difficulty breathing
Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.
What is the Florida Department of Health doing to address COVID-19?
The Florida Department of Health is working with private and public partners to actively be involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Florida Department of Health Epidemiologists are partnering with providers to follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur.
The Florida Department of Health is communicating regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. The COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121.
How many cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the Florida Department of Health?
To see the latest case count, please visit COVID-19 Case Count.
How does the virus spread?
This virus most likely originally emerged from an animal source and now appears to be spreading from person-to-person. Currently, COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Is COVID-19 the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?
No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged COVID-19 is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. The Florida Department of Health and CDC recommend that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
How can I protect myself?
The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus and use good hand hygiene. Common sense precautions that prevent the spread of flu will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please do the following:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover cough and sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should only be worn by persons who are sick or persons caring for them.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and hard surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
If I were exposed to COVID-19, how long would it take for me to become sick?
This The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically 2 to 14 days, although in some cases it may be longer.
What should I do if I think I (or someone in my family) might have COVID-19?
If you are returning from an area with an outbreak of COVID-19 the CDC is recommending you self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon returning from your travels, even if asymptomatic. If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath during those 14 days contact your health care professional and mention your recent travel. Your provider will work with your county public health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from an impacted area, you should call a health care professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. For the most updated travel advisories regarding COVID-19, visit: U.S. Travel Advisories and CDC Information for Travel.
What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection available online.
How do you test a person for COVID-19?
Your healthcare professional will work with your county health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
A person who is tested will have three specimens taken: oral, nasal, and saliva. The samples will be given to the county health department, who will then either ship or deliver them to the closest state laboratory. If a specimen is tested positive, it will be identified as ‘presumptive positive’ until the result is confirmed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For more information on COVID-19 testing see CDC Tests for COVID-19.
What questions will a health care provider ask me when I call?
The Florida Department of Health follows CDC guidance on testing for COVID-19. This means that when a person goes to their local health care provider they will be asked the following questions:
- Did you have close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms?
- Are you located in an area where there is confirmed community spread?
- Are you experiencing unexplained respiratory illness that requires hospitalization?
- Have you traveled to or from an affected geographic area with community transmission in the last 14 days and have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness?
If the answer is yes to any of those questions, that person will be tested. Additionally, a person can be tested at the discretion of their local health care provider if they do not meet the above criteria.
The Florida Department of Health has three labs open in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa that will continue to operate to provide results as quickly as possible.
Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.
What are the treatments?
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Learn about COVID-19 Treatment.
How long can COVID-19 survive in the environment?
The length of time that the virus survives likely depends on factors. These factors could include the type of material or body fluid containing the virus and various environmental conditions such as temperature or humidity. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions are designing standardized experiments to measure how long COVID-19 can survive in situations that simulate natural environmental conditions.
Are there disinfectants available that can inactivate (kill) COVID-19?
Right now, there are no disinfectant products registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on environmental surfaces that are specifically listed as having the ability to kill COVID-19. However, related viruses that have similar physical and biochemical properties can be killed with bleach, ammonia or alcohol, or cleaning agents containing any of these disinfectants. Cleaning agents should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
What about products imported from areas of outbreak?
There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. In general, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.
How do I determine to travel or not?
Current CDC travel guidance is available here: CDC Information for Travel
Current U.S. Travel Advisories are available here: U.S. Travel Advisories.
I have reviewed the CDC travel guidance and still do not believe it is safe to travel. Can I get a refund for any planned travel?
Each company establishes its own refund policies, and any decision regarding refunds are between the traveler and the individual company.
Is okay to have or go to large events?
The decision to hold or cancel an event rests with the organizer of that event, just as the decision to attend an event or mass gathering rests with each individual. For more guidance visit the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html.
Where can I get more information about COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are excellent sources of information about this evolving outbreak.
You can access their websites here:
For Florida specific information, please consult The Florida Department of Health website: