2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: March 12, 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.
Visit the APHC Health Information Products e-CatalogExternal Link  for COVID-19 education materials.

General COVID-19 Questions

Symptoms and Spread


Installation-Related Questions

Social Distancing and Quarantine


Testing and Treatment


General COVID-19 Questions

Q. What is novel coronavirus?

A. It is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It is not the same as the coronaviruses which caused the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), or the common cold.  The current outbreak originated in 2019 and has been named coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.

Q. What is a disease epidemic?

A. An epidemic is used to define a disease outbreak in a limited geographic area.

Q. What is a disease pandemic?

A. A pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

Q. How many infections and deaths have been associated with COVID-19?

A. The global case counts and number of deaths due to this illness are updated several times per day each day on this site: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6External Link
The World Health Organization (WHO) also provides daily situation reports, which include daily counts and country specific risk assessments on this site:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reportsExternal Link
Information on cases in the United States is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.htmlExternal Link

Q. Will warmer weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

A. It is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.

Q. Are these travel/movement restrictions an over-reaction and worth the great inconvenience and cost?

A. Protecting the health and safety of our communities is the number one priority.  All decisions related to travel and movement restrictions are carefully considered and implemented in order to slow the transmission of the virus.

Q. What designates a high risk individual?

A.  For this virus, older people, especially those with underlying illnesses, are at higher risk for developing severe illness. So far in this outbreak, most people have experienced mild illness.

Q. Does COVID-19 present any specific health risks to pregnant women or the unborn child?

A. There are no specific studies available regarding the risk posed to pregnant women; the likelihood of transmission to the unborn child or of increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes are unknown. Routine prevention measures, such as frequent handwashing, are strongly encouraged.

Q. Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?

A. Although the virus is believed to have emerged from an animal source, the greater threat is from person-to-person spread.  There is currently no evidence that pets can acquire or spread COVID-19. However, out of an abundance of caution as we learn more about the dynamics of this virus, you should try to limit close contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people.  If you are the only caretaker for your pets and you become ill, wash your hands before and after touching your pets.

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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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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 facemask to prevent becoming infected?
A. Masks are not effective in preventing infection in healthy individuals; they are not recommended for general use by the CDC or other public health authorities.  Individuals who have cold or flu-like symptoms may be asked to wear a mask to protect those around them from being exposed; masks may also be recommended for Family members who are caring for an infected relative at home. 

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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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.

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