Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
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: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
Where is it safe to travel internationally?
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. Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. 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.
Individuals coming back from out-of-state travel are expected to comply with the New Mexico State Executive Order. The most up-to-date travel restrictions and policies for self-isolation and self-quarantine, exemptions, and compliance can be found here.
I have fever and cough or shortness of breath that started in the last 14 days. What should I do?
COVID-19 testing is available. A list of COVID-19 screening and testing sites can be found here: https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html
As with any respiratory illness, we ask you to limit your contact with other people while sick, wear a mask or cloth face covering, 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.
I am a New Mexico resident and contemplating out-of-state travel in the coming weeks and months. What guidelines do I need to follow for COVID-19 when I come back?
I am from out-of-state and planning to travel to New Mexico. What guidelines do I need to follow for COVID-19 while in New Mexico?
Individuals arriving to New Mexico from out-of-state are expected to comply with the New Mexico State Executive Order. The most up-to-date travel restrictions and policies for self-isolation and self-quarantine, exemptions, and compliance can be found here.
Additionally, all persons visiting New Mexico are expected to comply with New Mexico’s masking and social distancing guidelines. As stated in the New Mexico Public Health Order, all persons in New Mexico must wear a mask or cloth face covering in all public settings. Mass gatherings and congregation events are off-limits, and persons may not congregate in groups that exceed the number of people as specified in the Public Health Order. Social distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and others) is expected at all times.
If symptoms develop while in New Mexico, seek medical care and call 855-600-3453 and press option 2 to speak with a nurse. Please isolate yourself immediately and avoid contact with other people.
Should I wear a mask?
In New Mexico, everyone is required to wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public except when drinking, eating, or under medical instruction. Masks and cloth face coverings may prevent people who do not know they have the virus from transmitting it to others. It is important to remember that wearing a mask or cloth face covering does not replace the important actions of staying home, washing your hands, and aggressive social distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and others) to reduce spread of COVID-19. 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.
The state’s mandate that all individuals must wear face-coverings in public – in effect since May 16 – now requires individuals to wear face-coverings while exercising. This requirement includes those exercising at indoor gyms, fitness centers, and outdoors. Operators of those establishments, like operators of other essential businesses, must require customers to wear face-coverings; violators will be subject to a fine.
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 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 or the time from exposure to getting sick, for most coronaviruses is up to 14 days.
Who is at risk of getting novel coronavirus?
COVID-19 can affect anyone, and the disease can cause no symptoms or symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. Some people may be more likely to have severe illness than others because they have characteristics or medical conditions that increase their risk such as older age or having certain underlying conditions.
You can find out more about CDC’s assessment of risk factors 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 limit the spread of coronavirus?
- NMDOH recommends testing for all individuals with or without symptoms.
- NMDOH is conducting COVID-19 surveillance by utilizing existing influenza surveillance systems.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NMDOH issue alerts to medical providers informing them of updates in guidance for the care of patients with 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 several private laboratories in New Mexico.
- 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 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 treatment?
There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses. Most people will recover on their own. However, in the current outbreak, it is best to seek medical care right away if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
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.
- Clean your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home except for essential purposes and/or to seek healthcare.
- Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with other people who are sick.
- Practice social distancing by putting at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering. In New Mexico, everyone is required to wear a face covering when in public except when drinking, eating, or under medical instruction. New Mexico now requires all persons to wear a mask while exercising whether indoor or outdoor. Masks and cloth face coverings may prevent people who do not know they have the virus from transmitting it to others.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
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. You can find out more information about COVID-19 and pets or other animals here.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and Influenza (flu)?
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
There are some key differences between flu and COVID-19:
- COVID-19 seems to spread more easily with more superspreading events than flu and causes more serious illness in certain populations and age groups
- People with COVID-19 show symptoms later and can be contagious for longer
- The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19. However, infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for both COVID-19 and flu.
- Flu can be treated with prescription antiviral drugs that are FDA-approved. For COVID-19, the antiviral remdesivir is being explored as a treatment and is available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). There are currently no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19. Studies are in progress to learn more.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone and testing may be needed to help confirm diagnosis.
You can find out more information about COVID-19 and flu here.