Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have reported symptoms of fever, cough, or trouble breathing. Symptoms of COVID-19 may also include runny nose, headache, sore throat, and a general feeling of being unwell.
Who is at risk of severe COVID-19 disease?
Some individuals seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. These individuals include older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
Advice for people at higher risk of severe disease includes:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications, groceries and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds.
For more information, consult the CDC guidance for high risk individuals: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
What countries have a CDC Travel Health Notice?
CDC Travel Health Notice recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to the following destinations:
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
You can get up-to-date travel information here.
What are the high-risk locations in the U.S.?
Although the CDC has not issued any advisories or travel restrictions within the U.S., many states have reported COVID-19 cases and many areas are experiencing widespread community transmission. Currently, NMDOH recommends travelers to avoid nonessential domestic travel within the U.S.
I recently traveled to a country with a CDC Travel Health Notice and/or an affected U.S. location and now have fever, cough or shortness of breath. What should I do?
- Seek medical care right away. If possible, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and recent travel, so that the medical team can prepare for your arrival and have a mask ready for you.
- Other than seeking medical care, stay home and avoid contact with other people.
- Avoid further travel until your illness resolves.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands).
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
I was in a country with a CDC Travel Health Notice and/or an affected U.S. location within the last 14 days, but I don’t have any symptoms. What should I do?
Call the Coronavirus Hotline at 1-855-600-3453. We will assess your risk of exposure and determine what level of monitoring will be recommended.
I have not traveled to a country with a CDC Travel Health Notice and/or an affected U.S. location, but I have fever and cough or shortness of breath that started in the last 14 days. What should I do?
COVID-19 testing is now available at the NMDOH Scientific Laboratory Division, TriCore, LabCorp, and Quest Diagnostics laboratories for persons with symptoms of respiratory infection. Please contact your healthcare provider and assess whether you should be tested. As with any respiratory illness, we ask you to limit your contact with other people while sick, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands), and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available to limit the spread of infection.
Should I wear a mask?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people wear masks to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have been exposed to COVID-19, and who have symptoms. This is to protect other people from the risk of getting infected. Masks are also crucial for healthcare workers and other people who are taking care of someone who has COVID-19 at home or in a healthcare facility.
Where did the novel coronavirus come from?
The virus most likely originated from an animal at the Wuhan seafood and animal market. Other coronaviruses have been found in a variety of animals, including bats, camels, civet cats, swine, and ferrets, among others. The animal reservoir for this new virus has not been determined yet.
How does the novel coronavirus spread?
The virus likely spreads in the same way as other coronaviruses: through respiratory droplets spread by coughing or sneezing.
How long does it take to get sick after being exposed to novel coronavirus?
The maximum incubation period for most coronaviruses, or the time from exposure to getting sick, is up to 14 days.
Who is at risk of getting novel coronavirus?
The risk for COVID-19 to Americans can be broken down into risk of exposure versus risk of serious illness and death.
Risk of exposure:
- As the outbreak in the U.S. expands, the risk of being infected with COVID-19 will increase. Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in a growing number of states.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk dependent on the location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled.
Risk of Severe Illness:
- Adults 65 years of age and older with risk increasing by age.
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Diseases or medications that reduce your immune function
You can get an up-to-date CDC risk assessment summary here.
What’s the difference between a coronavirus and the novel coronavirus?
There are already several known types of coronaviruses, named for the crown-like shape the viruses have. Coronaviruses cause a wide spectrum of disease. Some are common and cause mild, seasonal colds. Others are less common and can be more serious, like the ones that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). We don’t know enough about this new, or novel, coronavirus to say where exactly on the spectrum it fits.
What is being done to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading?
- People arriving in the United States from China and Iran are being funneled to one of 11 airports that are screening travelers from China and Iran for illness.
- Travelers from China, Iran, and some cruise ship travelers with respiratory symptoms are being isolated and medically evaluated for testing, while travelers from China, Iran, or some cruise ships with no symptoms are being asked to stay home for 14 days from their last day in China, Iran, or on the cruise ship. In New Mexico, NMDOH will monitor those travelers, as well as self-reported travelers from CDC Travel Health Notice countries for new symptoms.
- Passengers arriving from China or other affected high-risk countries to other airports around the world are also being screened for illness.
- NMDOH is providing COVID-19 testing for individuals with symptoms if they traveled to an affected U.S. location or even in the absence of travel to high-risk locations.
- NMDOH is conducting COVID-19 surveillance by utilizing existing influenza surveillance systems.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NMDOH have issued alerts to medical providers informing them about the illness, how to screen patients, and what to do if they have a patient with suspected COVID-19.
- The CDC has developed a test to diagnose COVID-19 and has distributed it to all public health labs in the United States. This test is now available at the NMDOH state lab, as well as at TriCore, LabCorp, and Quest Diagnostics laboratories.
- NMDOH has expanded call lines to handle thousands of calls about COVID-19 from the public and healthcare providers.
- NMDOH has begun setting up COVID-19 testing clinics at public health offices around the state to expand testing for all residents.
- Testing is allowing for people with mild illness to isolate themselves at home and for hospitals to implement heightened infection control procedures. It is also allowing for contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases who are not having symptoms to self-quarantine and be actively monitored by NMDOH so that further spread is minimized if they subsequently develop COVID-19.
Is there a vaccine?
Not yet, although development has started. When a new disease is discovered, it can take years for a vaccine to be developed and properly studied to make sure it is safe and effective.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses. Most people will recover on their own. However, in the early stages of this outbreak, it is best to seek medical care right away.
What can I do to protect myself?
Just like with many other illnesses, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. This requires taking steps to protect yourself and to protect others.
- To protect yourself, clean your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, as well as avoid close contact by avoiding other people who are sick and putting distance between yourself and other people.
- To protect others, stay home if you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands regularly, wear a facemask if you are sick when you need to interact with other people, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Should I be concerned for pets or other animals and COVID-19?
There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
I am planning to travel to one of the countries with a CDC Travel Health Notice and/or an affected U.S. location. What should I do?
For foreign travel, the CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to a country with a CDC Travel Health AlertNotice. If you are already in a country with a CDC Travel Health Notice or are visiting another country that has reported COVID-19 cases, be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Avoid people who are sick. Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and uncooked meat.
Currently, CDC does not have any restrictions on travel within the U.S. However, given the number of U.S. states experiencing widespread community transmission, NMDOH recommends avoiding all non-essential domestic travel within the U.S.
If you do decide to travel, be sure to practice precautions to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 or other respiratory diseases during travel. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 travel information, visit the NMDOH social distancing and travel recommendations here and the CDC COVID-19 Travel page.