2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: October 28, 2020
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Below are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to COVID-19. Always follow guidance from your medical provider and local installation and public health officials.

General COVID-19 Questions

Working in a COVID-19 Operational Environment

Symptoms and Spread

Prevention

Installation-Related Questions

Social Distancing and Quarantine

Vaccines

Testing and Treatment

Pet

Personal Protective Equipment Disposal

More FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)External Link

 

General COVID-19 Questions

Q. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A. (From CDC)External Link People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms—ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.


Q. How does COVID-19 spread?

A. COVID-19 primarily spreads from person-to-person via the respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks in close proximity (about 6 feet) to a non-infected person. It may also be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching his/her own mouth, nose, or eyes.


Q. What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

A. (From CDC) Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with an influenza virus. Because many of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis. The typical seasonal influenza can be prevented by an annual vaccination. There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus.

 

Q. How many infections and deaths have been associated with COVID-19 globally and within the Army community?

A. For an up-to-date assessment and visualization of the COVID-19 burden within the Army community, refer to the MEDCOM COVID-19 Common Operating Picture (COP) (CAC Enabled Site)External Link. For up-to-date information on global COVID-19 infections and deaths, please refer to the John Hopkins University (JHU) COVID-19 DashboardExternal Link.


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Working in a COVID-19 Operational Environment

Q. How should personnel be screened before returning to the workplace? 

A. The Army recommends supervisors conduct screening according to Guidance for Clearing Personnel to Return to the Workplace.

Measuring body temperature outside of a healthcare setting is not an ideal screening tool for COVID-19. This is because not all individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 will develop a fever, a fever can wax and wane, and a fever may be suppressed with common over-the-counter medication. For screening purposes, the subjective account of feeling (or having felt) "feverish" is adequate.


Q. What are effective ways to practice social distancing in the workplace?

A. Consider implementing engineering and administrative controls to protect employees, such as:

  • Staggering arrival and departure times to/from the workplace
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with electronic or virtual forms of communication.
  • Rearranging workplace seating to increase distance between individuals.
  • Installing physical barriers (e.g cubicle walls, plexiglass…) where appropriate.

Refer to Sustaining Workplace Operations Guidance for additional information.


Q. When, how, and what kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used in the workplace?

A. PPE is employed to control certain exposures for people who work in specific roles and work environments. While not classified as PPE, cloth face coverings are recommended to reduce risk of asymptomatic persons spreading droplets which could contain the virus that causes COVID-19, from their exhaled breath into their immediate environment. All DOD employees are required to wear cloth face covers or higher degree of PPE while in the workplace.

When conducting COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection, follow cleaner and disinfectant label instructions for PPE.

Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are to be reserved for use by medical personnel only. Refer to COVID-19: Face Coverings, Masks, & Respirators: Know the Difference and When to Use Them for additional information.


Q. When should face coverings be used?

A. Face coverings should be worn in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Face coverings are required on DoD property, and many local regulations require face coverings to gain entrance into public buildings and/or indoor space when social distancing cannot be maintained.

Refer to Important Information about Your Face Covering for additional information.


Q. What hygiene practices should be employed to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A. Do the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash; cough/sneeze into your elbow if tissues are unavailable

Refer to COVID-19: Prevent the Spread, Protect Yourself and Your Family for additional information.


Q. When, how, and what kind of routine cleaning should be practiced in the workplace?

A. Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., light switches, doorknobs, tabletops, keyboards) should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily with an EPA-approved cleaner/disinfectant. Refer to COVID-19: Cleaning and Disinfection for additional information.


Q. What actions should be taken when an employee working on-site is known or presumed to have COVID-19?

A. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of being infected must isolate and not return to the workplace until either symptoms- or time-based conditions are met. Reference COVID-19: Guidance for Discontinuing Isolation in a Non-Healthcare Setting.

Additionally:

  • Take care of yourself by remaining hydrated and getting rest.
  • Stay in touch with your healthcare provider and seek care if experiencing trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or have bluish lips or face.
  • Avoid public transportation, gatherings, shopping centers, and other public venues.
  • If you are a supervisor, maintain daily accountability.

Refer to COVID-19: Guidance for Clearing Individuals with a History of Confirmed or Presumed COVID-19 Infection to Return to the Workplace for additional information.


Q. When and how should employees report having close contact with a person who is confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19?

A. Individuals who are close contacts of a person who is confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19 should immediately report their change in status to their supervisor and:

  • Quarantine at home or in quarters for at least 14 days from the time you last had close contact with the person in question. Refer to the flyer titled 10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine or Self-Monitoring for additional information.
  • During the quarantine period, the individual should take the following steps to monitor their health and practice social distancing:
  • Check body temperature with a thermometer two times per day (morning and evening). Use a temperature log to document body temperature over time.
  • Monitor symptoms for the development of a cough or trouble breathing; consult a health care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel to work or school.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
  • Keep distance from others (about 6 feet) and wear a cloth face covering when around others.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.htmlExternal Link


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Symptoms and Spread

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath appearing in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.  Severe illness may develop into pneumonia and may even be fatal.

 

Q. How does COVID-19 spread?

A. It spreads from person-to-person in close contact, especially through coughing, sneezing, and contact with contaminated surfaces.

 

Q. Can someone without symptoms be contagious?

A. Possibly.  There have been some documented cases of transmission from asymptomatic people, but how commonly this occurs is still unknown.

 

Q. How long is someone contagious?

A. This can vary by individual; each case is evaluated by a medical provider.  In general, a person must be free from fever and all other symptoms, and they must have negative results on two consecutive lab tests at least 24 hours apart.

 

Q. When should I seek medical attention?

A. If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath), call your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations.  They can best determine if you should be tested for respiratory illness and provide appropriate direction.  Unless you require urgent care, do not just show up to your provider's office or hospital; if you are infected, this can put others at risk.  For medical emergencies, call 911.

 

Q. Does a person released from isolation or quarantine pose a risk of spreading infection of COVID-19 to other people?

A. No.  They do not pose a risk to others.  The medical provider releases someone only after he/she meets the criteria of being free from fever and all other symptoms; they must have negative results in two consecutive lab tests at least 24 hours apart.

 

Q. Can COVID-19 be spread through food or water?

A. Currently there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread in food or water.  Routine handwashing before preparing or eating food with soap and water for 20 seconds is always important for general food safety.

 

Q. Can COVID-19 be spread through packages in the mail?

A. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks.  Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods; there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

 

Q. What is community transmission or spread?

A. 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.


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Prevention

Q. What can I do to prevent infection?

A. Practice the same prevention measures you would for the common cold, including frequent handwashing, sanitizing common surfaces, cough and sneeze etiquette, and social distancing (e.g., stay away from sick people, avoid crowded settings).  Additionally, follow all restriction measures put into place in order to limit your exposure to the virus.

 

Q. What is recommended for daily cleaning and disinfection?

A. It is recommended that you practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (e.g., tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface. EPA link: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-releases-list-disinfectants-use-against-covid-19External Link

Q. Should I wear a face covering to prevent becoming infected?

A. All individuals on DOD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers. This guidance applies to all service members, DOD civilians, contractors, families (apart from residences on installations) and all other individuals on DOD property. 

A cloth face covering shall extend above the nose without interfering with eyewear, and below the chin to cover the mouth and nostrils completely. It shall fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face and be secured (e.g., by being tied in place or with ear-loops). Cloth face coverings shall be laundered regularly to maintain good hygiene. The Military Departments will issue guidance on uniform wear for Service members. Pending that guidance, Service members will wear cloth face coverings in neutral colors.

CDCExternal Link recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others.



Q. Should I purchase and wear an N-95 respirator?

A. No. You do not need to purchase or wear an N-95 respirator.  These devices are designed to protect medical personnel who perform procedures on infected patients, increasing their exposure to the virus. They are not for general use.  Wearing these respirators can make breathing difficult, and to wear them requires medical clearance, fit testing, and supervision as part of an occupational respiratory protection program.

 

Q. When should I stay home?

A. If you are sick, you should stay home; call your doctor if you think you might have COVID-19 or your symptoms do not improve.  Patients who have COVID-19 will be isolated either in a hospital or at home until their symptoms resolve and they have two negative tests for COVID-19 at least 24 hours apart.


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Installation-Related Questions

Q. What can my Family and I do to help the installation manage this disease outbreak?

A. Follow the instructions and health protection measures announced by the installation, check the installation daily updates or Web page for new and current information, practice personal hygiene, and use preventive measures against transmission.  If symptoms arise, follow instructions for contacting your local MTF for screening.

 

Q. If an individual on an installation is diagnosed with COVID-19, should installation personnel be concerned?

A. Medical providers are prepared to immediately address a diagnosis of COVID-19.  Appropriate measures will be taken to prevent transmission of the virus to other persons.  It is important to continue to monitor the daily post information updates to better prepare yourself and your family.

 

Q. What do I do if they order the installation to be closed?

A. Begin to utilize the resources you prepared for your Family; follow all guidance from your installation leadership related to restrictions and closures.  This guidance is intended to protect you and your Family during this time of increased community transmission. 


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Social Distancing and Quarantine

Q. What is social distancing?

A. Social distancing is essentially skipping social events, public transportation, flying, and even hand shaking to avoid spreading and contracting coronavirus.  A distance of approximately 6 feet or 2 meters from others is recommended.

 

Q. What does it mean when an individual is quarantined?

A. Individuals who have had possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 or who recently traveled to an area with community transmission of COVID-19 within the past 14 days, may be asked to self-quarantine.  This means staying at home away from others to prevent possible transmission.  You may also monitor yourself for symptoms, such as checking for fever twice daily.

 

Q. What sort of supplies should I keep on hand if I am placed in quarantine?

A. Gather items for an emergency kit similar to what you would need if you were affected by a hurricane. It should include things like an adequate supply of medicine, non-perishable food, pet food, diapers, and so forth:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.htmlExternal Link

 

Q. If quarantine is implemented and I need supplies, can they be delivered?

A. Supplies may not be delivered for those asked to quarantine themselves.  Therefore, it is recommended that everyone prepare their homes and their families for the possibility of quarantine.

 

Q. What does it mean when an individual is isolated?

A. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are awaiting test results for COVID-19 may be isolated at a hospital or in their home.  Patients who have COVID-19 will be isolated until symptoms resolve and they have two negative laboratory tests for COVID-19 at least 24 hours apart.

 

Q. If someone on base was exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, will they be quarantined in their home?

A. People who may have had exposure to confirmed cases of COVID-19 or who recently traveled to areas with community transmission within the past 14 days, may be asked to quarantine themselves in their home.


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Vaccines

Q. Will the seasonal flu vaccine also protect against COVID-19?

A. No.  The seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19.

 

Q. When will a COVID-19 vaccine become available?

A. Research into a vaccine is underway but an availability date is unknown at this time.

 

Q. Why does it take so long to develop a vaccine?

A. The process of vaccine development requires a series of important studies (12-18 months on average) to ensure effectiveness and safety prior to use in humans. 


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Testing and Treatment

Q. Should I be tested for COVID-19?

A. If you have symptoms or questions related to COVID-19, please contact your MTF so that a healthcare professional can determine if you need to be tested.

 

Q. Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?

A. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.  However, a negative test result of a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.

 

Q. What is the treatment for COVID-19?

A. At this time, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Treatment focuses on symptom management.  Patients with COVID-19 who are severely or critically ill are given supportive care.

 

Q. How long can individuals test positive for COVID-19 after initial diagnosis?

A.Individuals who recover from mild to moderate COVID-19 infection may continue to test positive for up to 90 days after the date of symptom onset. Symptom onset is defined as the date on which symptoms first began, including non-respiratory symptoms.

For persons who never developed symptoms, the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA should be used in place of the date of symptom onset.

  • A second positive test within 90 days of symptom onset or first positive RT-PCR test does NOT necessarily mean:
    •  The individual has been re-infected.
      • The individual is likely continuing to shed the virus at low levels.
    • The individual is able to infect others.
      • Individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections typically are no longer able to spread the virus to others after 10 days from the appearance of their first symptoms. Individuals with asymptomatic infections typically are no longer able to spread the virus to others after 10 days from their first positive RT-PCR test.

Testing recommendations for individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 infection:

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 and:
 
Test Do NOT Test
They do not develop symptoms during the first 90 days
 
X
They do develop symptoms in the first 90 days
Maybe*
 

 

*If evaluation by a healthcare provider fails to identify another cause for symptoms (e.g., influenza), then consultation with infectious disease or infection control experts is recommended. Isolation may be warranted during this evaluation period, particularly if symptoms developed after close contact with an infected person.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Duration of Isolation and Precautions for Adults with COVID-19External Link

 

Pet

Q. Can I get COVID-19 from my pets?

A. At this time, there is no scientific evidence indicating that any animals, including pets, play a role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection for people in the United States. It appears that in some rare situations, people can spread the virus to pets. Pet owners should continue to practice good hygiene during interactions with animals. This includes washing hands before and after touching or handling pets, animal food, waste, bedding, or supplies.

 

Q. Can my pet get COVID-19?

A. We are aware of a small number of animals reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if, and how, different animals could be affected by COVID-19.

If your animal appears to be ill, it is most likely not the result of infection with COVID-19. Contact your veterinarian just like you would for any health concern. Call ahead to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared for your pet. If your animal has been in close contact with someone sick with COVID-19, you should tell the clinic when making an appointment.

 

Q. If I am ill with COVID-19, are there special precautions I should take for caring for my pet?

A. Basic hygiene measures should always be implemented when handling and caring for pets. Wash hands before and after touching or handling pets, animal food, waste, bedding, or supplies. If you think you have COVID-19, you should restrict close contact with pets just like you would for people.

This includes avoiding kissing, licking, or sharing food with your pet. Your pet should not sleep in the same bed as you. When possible, another member of the household (or a designated pet-care provider) should assume routine care. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them. If you are not able to care for your pet, alternatives such as Family, friends, or boarding facilities should be considered.

 

Q. Should pets who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person be tested?

A. At this time, routine testing of pets is not recommended. The decision to test a pet for COVID-19 will be made individually by your state veterinarian. Each state has a designated state veterinarian who will work closely in consultation with your veterinarian. Because pets are not likely to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, testing will only be considered for ill animals having had close contact with a COVID-19-positive person and where other, more common diagnoses have been ruled out with appropriate diagnostic testing.

 

Q. Can animals carry the virus that causes COVID-19 on their skin or fur?

A. At this time, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets.

 

Q. Are there special considerations in regards to social distancing for pets?

A. Until we know more about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and pets, CDC recommends the following:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals. Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

 

Q. Can I take my pet’s medications or heartworm prevention to treat COVID-19?

A. No; you should never take medications that were prescribed for your pet. Taking your pets medications could have dangerous effects on your health. While there have been reports of some veterinary medicines, like ivermectin, inhibiting the virus that causes COVID-19 in a laboratory setting, no research or testing has been done on pets or humans. Ivermectin can be toxic to animals if given more than their recommended dose, always consult with a veterinarian before adjusting doses of medications for your pet at home. Further testing needs to be performed to see if it is safe and effective for people.



Personal Protective Equipment Disposal

Q. How should personal protective equipment (PPE) from non-medical personnel be disposed after use?

Non-medical personnel includes, but are not limited to, personnel that interact with the public such as gate security guards, cashiers, food service personnel, reception area personnel, personnel transporting suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, as well as the general public wearing PPE (e.g., masks and gloves) when going out in public. This also includes medical treatment facility personnel who wear disposable PPE but who do not treat patients, such as housekeeping personnel, reception area personnel, cafeteria workers, etc.


A. Used PPE (and any other associated waste) is managed as general trash.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place waste in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, then place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.

Personnel can check state and local waste hauler’s websites for any specific requirements, or manage the waste as indicated above as a Best Management Practice.

 

Q. How should PPE used for cleaning or disinfecting rooms or areas occupied by those with suspected or with confirmed COVID-19 be disposed?

A. Used PPE, as well as the used cleaning materials (e.g., wipes, rags, disposable mop heads), is managed as general trash.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place waste in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, and place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.

Personnel can check state and local waste hauler’s websites for any specific requirements, or manage the waste as indicated above as a Best Management Practice.


Q. How should PPE from households caring for someone suspected or with confirmed COVID-19 be disposed?

A. Used PPE, as well as the used cleaning materials (e.g., wipes, rags, disposable mop heads), is managed as general trash.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, and place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.

Personnel can check state and local waste hauler’s websites for any specific requirements, or manage the waste as indicated above as a Best Management Practice.


Q. How should PPE from medical personnel/patient care in a healthcare setting be disposed?

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MEDCOM OPORD 20-21, FRAGO 4 state that COVID-19 waste generated in a healthcare facility (HCF) is no different than waste coming from facilities without COVID-19 patients. CDC’s guidanceExternal Link states that management of laundry, food service utensils, and medical waste should be performed in accordance with routine procedures. There is no evidence to suggest that facility waste needs any additional disinfection. If a HCF manages a waste stream as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) during the normal conditions, that same waste stream will be RMW during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a HCF manages a waste stream as general trash during normal conditions then it would manage this waste stream as general trash during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, and place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.

Personnel can check state and local waste hauler’s websites for any specific requirements, or manage the waste as indicated above as a Best Management Practice.

RMW should be placed in the BIOHAZARD red bag (or sharps container).

STATE EXCEPTIONS: Some states have implemented more stringent waste disposal requirements for COVID-19 waste.

TexasExternal Link requires that all COVID-19 waste generated in a HCF to be managed and disposed as RMW.

Idaho and Puerto Rico require that any contaminated COVID-19 disposable material generated in a HCF be managed as RMW. Neither Idaho nor PR define the term “contaminated” in their guidance. Infection Control Officers can assist in determining what is or is not considered contaminated at each HCF.

IdahoExternal Link

Puerto RicoExternal Link


Q. How should PPE from medical personnel/patient care at a temporary medical facility be disposed?

A. If tents or other non-medical facilities are being used as "temporary treatment facilities", with physicians, nurses, and medical technicians performing their duties as medical professionals, then the wastes generated at these sites will be managed in the same manner as they would in a medical treatment facility.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MEDCOM OPORD 20-21, FRAGO 4 state that COVID-19 waste generated in a healthcare facility (HCF) is no different than waste coming from facilities without COVID-19 patients. CDC’s guidanceExternal Link states that management of laundry, food service utensils, and medical waste should be performed in accordance with routine procedures. There is no evidence to suggest that facility waste needs any additional disinfection. If a HCF manages a waste stream as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) during the normal conditions, that same waste stream will be RMW during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a HCF manages a waste stream as general trash during normal conditions then it would manage this waste stream as general trash during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, and place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.

Personnel can check state and local waste hauler’s websites for any specific requirements, or manage the waste as indicated above as a Best Management Practice.

RMW should be placed in the BIOHAZARD red bag (or sharps container).

STATE EXCEPTIONS: Some states have implemented more stringent waste disposal requirements for COVID-19 waste.

TexasExternal Link requires that all COVID-19 waste generated in a HCF to be managed and disposed as RMW.

Idaho and Puerto Rico require that any contaminated COVID-19 disposable material generated in a HCF be managed as RMW. Neither Idaho nor PR define the term “contaminated” in their guidance. Infection Control Officers can assist in determining what is or is not considered contaminated at each HCF.

IdahoExternal Link

Puerto RicoExternal Link


Q. How should waste be handled from facilities used to quarantine or isolate COVID-19 suspected or confirmed personnel?

A. Used PPE, as well as the used cleaning materials (e.g., wipes, rags, disposable mop heads), is managed in the same manner as household COVID-19 waste, as general trash.

Some states and private trash hauling companies require special procedures when disposing of COVID-19 general trash. Place in a trash bag lined receptacle, knot or use a tie to close this bag, and place in another trash bag. Knot or use a tie to close the second bag, and then place in the trash for pickup for disposal.


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