Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about COVID-19 Coronavirus

Page updated 12/31/2020.  Please check this page often for updated information.  If you do not find the information you are looking for below, please call the ECDOH COVID-19 Information Line at (716) 858-2929.

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COVID-19 has been confirmed in our community. Everyone should be monitoring their health and watching for symptoms of COVID-19, which include any of the following: fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting. 

1. What is COVID-19?

  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.  For the latest information, go to CDC COVID-19 website.   

2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms which include:

  • Fever (100.4 degrees or higher)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell    
  • Diarrhea      
  • Some people can have severe complications.  
  • CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.  

3. How does COVID-19 spread?

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread from person to person mainly 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. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). See CDC How COVID-19 Spreads.   

4. How can I help protect myself?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, you should follow these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

  • Wash your hands often and correctly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands with soap and running water after touching the tissue. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks).  See Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home and it is recommended to use EPA-registered household disinfectants.  Follow the instructions on the label (such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use) to ensure safe and effective use of the product. 
  • Wear a face covering (see Question #5).
  • Practice Social Distancing (see Question #10)
  • See the CDC Checklist for Individuals and Families and 
  • Get Your Home Ready - Have a plan and know what to do if someone in your household becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Get the COVID-19 Vaccine when it is available to you  

5. Should I wear a face covering?

6. What should I do if I have been in contact with someone that has symptoms of COVID-19?

7. What should I do if I get symptoms of COVID-19?

8. When can I return to work after I have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19?  

9. When can I leave my house after having symptoms of COVID-19? 

10. What are social distancing recommendations and guidelines?  

  • Stay home as much as possible. Staying home will save lives and protect our community.
  • Use home delivery services and online shopping services offered by grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services. If for some reason you must go out, then wear a face covering and keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others. (See Question #5)
  • Do not gather with people who live outside your home.
  • Do not go to stores or other public spaces for fun or because you are bored.
  • People who use or operate ride shares, taxi services or public transportation should make every effort to keep at least six feet away from others to the extent that is possible. Taxi and ride share operators should take steps to properly disinfect hard surfaces in the vehicle in between riders and stops. 
  • See New York State on PAUSE
  • See Information Regarding Business Closures and Staffing  

11. Can the ECDOH provide me with a “return to work” note beyond my note from my doctor?  

12. Who is at highest risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?

  • According to limited research, older adults, people who have chronic medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes and lung disease), and people who are immunosuppressed are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.   

13. How do I get tested for COVID-19?  

14. Is there a COVID-19 Test I can do at home? 

  • See CDC At Home Testing and talk to your healthcare provider about this type of test.  
  • The FDA has a consumer hotline for general information and complaints about fraudulent COVID-19 products at 1-888-INFO-FDA.  

15. Is there a vaccine or treatment?

  • See COVID-19 Vaccine Information.  People infected with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. The best medical advice for you comes from your healthcare provider. 

16. What cleaning products should I use?

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks).  See Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home and it is recommended to use EPA-registered household disinfectants.  Follow the instructions on the label (such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use) to ensure safe and effective use of the product.  

17. Where do I find information about travel?

18. What is a Person Under Investigation (PUI)?

  • PUI is a person that has met specific criteria set by the CDC and is being monitored for disease.   

19. What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

20:  Where can I find information about COVID-19 and Pregnancy?

See NYSDOH Pregnancy and COVID-19: Resources for Pregnant People and their Families 

See CDC Pregnancy and Breastfeeding 

21:  Where can I find information about COVID-19 and Animals?

22:  Where can I find community resources?

23: Are individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 required to notify their employer? 

  • If an employee was in close contact with others at a workplace and tests positive for COVID-19, they should notify their employer.     

24. Are employers required to notify their employees if they are made aware that someone in the business is COVID-19 positive? 

  • If a worker or visitor was in close contact with others at the office location and tests positive for COVID-19, the employer must immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts, while maintaining confidentiality required by state and federal law and regulations. 
  • To report a positive COVID-19 employee, please use the secure Form to Report an Employee/Student/Volunteer who Tests Positive for COVID-19     

25. How can I donate Plasma? 

Additional Information

Use reliable, fact-based sources when seeking out information about COVID-19 and other public health topics. We recommend the following sites.

Frequently Requested

Contact

 

Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations