COVID-19: Your Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who is most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19?
A. Conditions that could cause someone to be at higher risk of serious illness include:
- People who are 65 or older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with chronic lung disease or severe or moderate asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People whose immune systems are compromised because of cancer treatment, smoking, organ transplants, or poorly controlled HIV or AIDS
- People who are severely obese (body mass index >40)
- People with other underlying medical conditions, like diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
Q. I'm so stressed out about COVID-19. What can I do to unwind?
Things you can do to support yourself and the people you care for include:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others through calls (audio or video), instant messaging, email, letters, or other forms of communication, even if you can't be together in person.
- Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you feel.
Q. What should I do if I think I’m sick with COVID-19?
A. Contact your medical provider. Describe your symptoms and whether you’ve had close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Follow your medical provider’s instructions regarding testing.
Q. How can I get tested for COVID-19?
A. You must have an order from a medical provider to be tested for COVID-19. Some medical clinics are capable of testing you on the premises. St. Peter’s Health has opened a drive-through testing site for COVID-19. It’s open to people who have symptoms (fever, cough, trouble breathing) and a provider order for the test.
Q. Should I self-quarantine or get tested if I’ve been in close contact with someone who was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
A. "Close contact" is defined as (a) someone who has been within about 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time or (b) someone who has had direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (like getting coughed or sneezed on.)
At this time, based on what we know about COVID-19, you should stay home for 14 days and monitor yourself for symptoms if you are a close contact. The CDC does not recommend testing or quarantine of people who were in contact to someone with no symptoms but who had potential exposure to the virus (contacts of contacts).
Q. I was tested for COVID-19. When and how will I get the test results?
A. Your medical provider should contact you with your results within 48 hours.
Q. Can I go ahead with an event I’m planning if no one who’s going to attend is sick?
A. There are several factors you should consider before holding an event:
- How many people will attend? At this time, we advise against gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Are you inviting older people or people with severe medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes? These people are at greater risk of having serious illness if they contract COVID-19.
- Can you keep people at a distance of at least 6 feet away from one another? With COVID-19, 6 feet is considered the distance the virus can spread.
- How prevalent is COVID-19 in our community? Will attendees be traveling from areas with lots of cases of the disease?
Q. Do I need to wear a face mask to protect myself against COVID-19?
A. The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering -- not a surgical mask or N-95 respirator -- in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (like grocery stores and pharmacies). Simple cloth face coverings can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2 and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
Q. Should I go to work?
A. If you’re feeling sick, do not go to work until at least 24 hours after your medical provider indicates that you have recovered. Notify your supervisor. If you're not sick, talk to your employer to find out whether options such as working from home are possible.
There are several steps employers can take to help protect employees from COVID-19, including working from home.
Q. Can I still donate blood?
A. The need for donated blood is constant, and the American Red Cross's Helena Blood Donation Center is open and in urgent need of donations. We encourage people who are well to continue to donate blood if they can. Just be sure to practice social distancing (keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others). Public health is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe. Call (800) 733-2767 to set up an appointment.
Q. What's the best way to kill the virus that causes COVID-19 on surfaces in my home?
A. The best cleaners are diluted bleach, rubbing alcohol solutions with at least 60 percent alcohol, and EPA-registered household disinfectants like Lysol and Clorox products. These products are in short supply at stores but are still being restocked. If you're using a bleach solution, use 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water. If you're making a smaller batch, go with 4 teaspoons of bleach to a quart of water.
The CDC recommends wearing gloves when you disinfect, and setting those gloves aside to be used only for COVID-19 cleaning. The high-traffic surfaces should be the first things you disinfect: doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks. For more details on cleaning and disinfecting, visit the CDC website.
Q. Are there special precautions I need to take when I open my mail?
A. So far, research indicates that there’s very little likelihood of catching COVID-19 from touching mail. However, LCPH strongly recommends that you wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going through your mail. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth while opening mail and until you've washed your hands.
Q. Can I get coronavirus from my pets, or give it to them?
A. At this time, there's no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people. More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the novel coronavirus. CDC recommends that people who are sick with COVID-19 isolate themselves from other people AND animals, including pets, during their illness until we know more about how this virus affects animals.