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The Coronavirus FAQs

Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Recommendations for COVID-19 may change as officials learn more, so monitor the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control for updates.

COVID-19 Drive through Testing Sites

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Many of them infect animals, but some coronaviruses from animals can evolve (change) into a new human coronavirus that can spread from person-to-person. This is what happened with the new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. Diseases from coronaviruses in people typically cause mild to moderate illness, like the common cold. Some, like the SARS or MERS viruses cause serious infections like pneumonia.

How are coronaviruses spread?

Like other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, human coronaviruses most commonly spread to others from an infected person who has symptoms through:

  • Droplets produced through coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as caring for an infected person
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

We are learning more each day about how easily the new coronavirus spreads and how long it takes for people to become sick.

Do not assume that someone of a race or nationality is likely to have COVID-19; this new virus has infected people of many different races and nationalities across the entire world.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people becoming severely ill, requiring admission to the hospital, and dying.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe illness
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you develop any of these for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

What should I do if I have symptoms and think I may have been exposed to novel coronavirus?

Most people with respiratory infections like colds, the flu, and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will have mild illness and can get better with appropriate home care and without the need to see a provider. People who are elderly, pregnant, or have a weak immune system, or other medical problems, are at higher risk of more serious illness or complications. It is recommended that you monitor your symptoms closely and seek medical care early if your symptoms get worse. If you are having difficulty breathing or keeping fluids down, go to an emergency room or call 911. Otherwise, it is better to call your doctor before going in to seek care. You should also call a doctor if you have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

Can I get tested for the coronavirus?

There are COVID-19 drive-through testing sites in Los Angeles County and events in San Bernardino County. At these drive-through testing sites and events, samples are collected by public health professionals by inserting a nasal swab up the nostril. These samples are then sent to a laboratory for testing. Events are free of charge and do not require health insurance.

Testing Sites for Los Angeles County Residents

The Los Angeles County COVID-19 screening sites are currently available by appointment only. There are currently 35 sites throughout Los Angeles County. Anyone who is interested in getting tested must first register on the screening website: coronavirus.lacity.org/Testing. Appointment times will be available for the following day only.

Testing Events in San Bernardino County

For information about COVID-19 screening events in San Bernardino County – and to make an appointment, visit the website: http://sbcovid19.com/community-drive-through-events/.

How is novel coronavirus treated?

There is no specific treatment for illness caused by the novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment is based on the patient’s condition.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent novel coronavirus. Be aware of scam products for sale that make false claims to prevent or treat this new infection.

What can I do to protect myself and others from respiratory infections like 2019-nCoV?

As with other respiratory illnesses, there are steps that everyone can take daily to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with circulating viruses.

You should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
  • Get a flu shot to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.

What should I do if I have no symptoms and think I may have been exposed to novel coronavirus?

If you are not sick, there is no need to do anything other than practice every day daily prevention and monitor yourself for symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever and cough. Should you become ill, follow the guidance in the question above.

Should I wear a cloth face covering?

Everyone is asked to wear a face covering when they are interacting with others who are not members of their household in public and private spaces. Face coverings are an additional tool that individuals should use to help slow the spread of COVID-19 but does not replace other physical distancing requirements.

Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19 because:

• Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19.

• We touch our face less when our face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with COVID-19.

For more information visit Guidance for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings.

What is a cloth face covering?
A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Why wear a face cover?
Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19 because:
• Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19.
• We touch our face less when our face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with COVID-19.

How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
There is limited evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing and washing hands and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions. If you plan to use a face covering it is important to keep your nose and mouth covered. Lowering the covering from your nose and mouth while talking defeats the purpose of wearing the face covering since you can spread virus while you talk.

Why might I cover my face now, when a face covering was not recommended before?
The face covering was not previously recommended for the general public for protection from getting COVID-19. We are learning that individuals may be contagious and spread COVID-19 without their knowledge, even if they do not have symptoms. This new information suggests that a face cover may protect others from infection. Wearing a face cover may help prevent the spread of droplets that might be infectious.

Do children need to use cloth face coverings as well?
Children under the age of 2 (including infants) should not wear cloth face coverings. Those between the ages of 2 and 8 should use them but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation. Children with breathing problems should not wear a face covering.

When should I wear a cloth face covering?
You are asked to wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when you must be in public for essential activities, such as shopping at the grocery store. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need to physically distance yourself from others and to wash your hands frequently.

What is my face covering options?
Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include:
• Bandana
• Neck gaiter
• Homemade face covering
• Scarf
• Tightly woven fabric, such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels

What can I do if I get stressed about COVID-19?

When you hear, read, or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease, it is normal to feel anxious and show signs of stress—even when the outbreak affects people far from where you live and you are at low risk of getting sick. It is important to care for your own physical and mental health. For tips on what you can do to help cope, read "Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks" on the Public Health website. For help, call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Center 24/7 Helpline at (800) 854-7771 or call 2-1-1.

What else can I do?