Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

There have also been reports of individuals without symptoms who have COVID-19. Like symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus, which poses a significant risk to individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness such as older people and people of any age with underlying medical conditions.

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 people and people of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions.

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, wear a mask, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.

For more information, consult the CDC guidance for high risk individuals:

Where is it safe to travel internationally?

The U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial travel options remain available, U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate return to the United State, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite length of time. For more information about possible travel restrictions, contact your destination’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate or visit the Department of State website.

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., all states have reported COVID-19 cases and many areas are experiencing widespread community transmission. If you have travel plans within the U.S., CDC recommends that you stay at home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential, and practice social distancing especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. Don’t travel if you are sick or travel with someone who is sick.
I recently traveled to an affected country and/or 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 recently traveled to an affected country and/or 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 recently traveled to an affected country and/or 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 Reference Laboratories, LabCorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and BioReference Laboratories for persons with symptoms of COVID-19.  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?

Everyone is required to wear a face covering when in public except when drinking, eating, excercising or under medical instruction. The general public should NOT be wearing N95s or other surgical masks as these supplies are critical and must be preserved for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

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 maximum incubation period for most coronaviruses, or the time from exposure to getting sick, is up to 14 days.

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:

  • Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in all U.S. 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 country and/or U.S. locations where community spread is occurring are also 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 live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions

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?
  • U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been to China, Iran, and Europe in the past 14 days may be allowed to enter the U.S. but will be redirected to one of 13 airports for COVID-19 screening. In New Mexico, NMDOH will be notified of returning travelers and will monitor them for new symptoms.
  • Foreign nationals who have visited China, Iran, and Europe in the past 14 days may not enter the U.S.
  • NMDOH is recommending 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.
  • In addition to testing symptomatic people, NMDOH has expanded its testing criteria to also include asymptomatic individuals.
  • 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, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics Laboratories, and BioReference Laboratories.
  • NMDOH has expanded call lines to handle thousands of calls about COVID-19 from the public and healthcare providers.
  • NMDOH has set up COVID-19 testing clinics at public health offices and is coordinating screening and testing sites throughout 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 except for essential purposes and/or to seek healthcare, cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands regularly, wear a facemask, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Should I be concerned for pets or other animals and COVID-19?

CDC is aware of a small number of animals, including dogs and cats, reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 after close contact with people with COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19. The risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered very low. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus and the role animals may play in the spread of COVID-19.

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