COVID-19 Health-Related FAQs
What is novel coronavirus?
The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), commonly known as a coronavirus, is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers this a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk from a coronavirus to the general American public is considered low at this time. For additional information, visit the CDC website.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
How does it spread?
Coronavirus disease 2019 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. Symptoms of COVID-19 generally appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization.
Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:
- The air by coughing and sneezing.
- Close personal contact, such as touching and shaking hands.
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- In rare cases, contact with feces.
How do I prevent getting the coronavirus?
How can I prevent it?
Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends typical infectious disease precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
- Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
- Do not gather in groups.
- Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a face covering when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
- CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings.
- Cloth face coverings are protective gear to help people from unknowingly transmitting virus to others.
- Cloth face coverings should completely cover a person’s nose, mouth and chin, with no gaps that would admit air to the nose, mouth or chin, to be effective.
- A reasonable accommodation may be considered for those students or employees who desire to participate in that process and they can request that via the accommodation request form for Fall 2020.
- Acceptable alternatives are available, including transparent face shields. Be advised that for a face shield to be protective against the virus, it must wrap around to the ears and down past the chin where an attached cloth is used to prevent virus from being exhaled out below the shield.
- Do NOT use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
- Face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, or on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- At Kent State, wearing face coverings is a critical component to the Flashes Safe Seven principles. All who can safely wear face coverings are required to do so.
- Those who have issues such as severe asthma or breathing issues, hearing aids, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder or claustrophobia should not wear face coverings.
- If you are concerned about wearing a face covering, please submit the accommodation request form for Fall 2020.
- The face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
- Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
What are recommended cleaning practices for surfaces that could harbor the coronavirus?
According to the CDC, "Community members can practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (i.e. tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product."
High-touch areas such as table or desktops, doorknobs, remote controls, counters, etc. should be disinfected at least daily. Most regular cleaners are effective against coronavirus if used as directed (including bleach and Lysol).
Cold, Flu or COVID-19?
How can you tell the difference between Coronavirus (COVID-19), the common cold and the flu? Check out the Ohio Department of Health Fact Sheet, to compare the differences.
What should I do if I feel ill?
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.
Stay home except to get medical care
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people
- As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.
- Additional guidance is available for those living in close quarters and shared housing.
- See COVID-19 and Animals if you have questions about pets.
Monitor your symptoms
- Symptoms of COVID-19 fever, cough or other symptoms.
- Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
- Visit the CDC website for more information.
What is "social distancing" and “physical distancing” and why is it used?
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 (about 2 arms’ length) 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.
Limit close contact with others 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—or they—have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- What should I do if I have traveled or plan to travel? Are there any requirements?
How will coronavirus affect me if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or a parent?
According to the CDC, there is no current information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
The CDC says that there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children.
For more information, the CDC has developed these fact sheets:
What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who tested positive?
We recommend anyone who believes they have been in close contact (within approximately 6 feet for a prolonged period of time) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate and call your local health department or healthcare provider for further guidance. If you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and develop symptoms such as fever (temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), cough or shortness of breath, seek medical advice by calling your local health department. If you cannot reach your local health department, call ahead before going to the emergency room or doctor’s office to notify them of recent contact with individuals who have tested positive for the virus.
Who should I contact for more health information?
University Health Services is open and available to answer questions about COVID-19 and safe practices at 330-672-2322, or after hours, contact the Kent State Nurse Line at 330-672-2326.