Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- 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: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
What kind of tests are being used to diagnose COVID-19?
Two kinds of tests are currently available in New Mexico for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.
A viral test tells you if you have a current infection. All of the viral tests on the market currently identify the virus in respiratory samples, such as from swabs from the inside of your nose or throat.
An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection by checking a blood sample for antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that typically provide protection against getting a disease again (immunity). Currently, it is unclear if antibodies to COVID-19 confer immunity and if it is long-lasting. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, an antibody test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection.
CDC Testing for COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html
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.?
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 immediately. Please call 855-600-3453 and press option 2 to speak with a nurse.
- 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?
Individuals coming back from out-of-state travel are expected to comply with the Executive Order and self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Exceptions to the 14-day self-isolation and self-quarantine requirement for out-of-state arrivals can be found here.
Monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 while you self-isolate or self-quarantine. If symptoms develop, seek medical care and call 855-600-3453 and press option 2 to speak with a nurse. Stay home and avoid contact with other people.
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. Please call 855-600-3453 and press option 2 to speak with a nurse.
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?
Individuals coming back from out-of-state travel, be it for business or pleasure, are expected to comply with the Executive Order and self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Exceptions to the 14-day self-isolation and self-quarantine requirement for out-of-state arrivals can be found here.
Also, as travel bans can be implemented, you run the risk of being unable to return to New Mexico or being allowed to enter another county. While we cannot regulate your personal travel decisions, we strongly advise you to reconsider out-of-state travel where you run the risk of being exposed to the virus during travel or bringing it back to New Mexico.
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?
All persons visiting New Mexico for business or pleasure are expected to comply with New Mexico’s masking and social distancing guidelines, and must self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the state as outlined in the Executive Order. Exceptions to the 14-day self-isolation and self-quarantine requirement for out-of-state arrivals can be found here. 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 of more than 5 people. 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 prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading?
- U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families who have been to China, Brazil, Iran, and most of Europe including the United Kingdom and Ireland 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 is notified of returning travelers from these countries and will monitor them for new symptoms.
- Foreign nationals who have visited China, Brazil, Iran, and most of Europe including the United Kingdom and Ireland in the past 14 days may not enter the U.S.
- 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 have issued 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 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 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 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.