COVID-19 FAQs

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself and Others

Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk of others. It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people, even when you wear a face covering. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus. 
  • Only go out for essentials like food, medicine, and health care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing. See CDC guidelines
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow/inside of arm. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. The Iowa Department of Public Health offers detailed cleaning and disinfection guidance.
  • Stay home if you are sick and do not go out in public until you are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer) or have signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. Tylenol, ibuprofen, cough suppressants), and at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  • Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC has information on additional measures those at higher risk should take.

What You Should Know

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19)? How does the virus spread? What should someone do if they feel ill or have a fever? 

Who Should Self-Isolate?

It is recommended that Iowans self-isolate for 14 days in the following situations: 

  • If you have traveled outside of Iowa for business or vacation in the last 14 days.
  • If you have been on an international cruise in the last 14 days.
  • If you live with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19.

  • View Self-Isolation Guidelines

Quarantine Recommendations for Business, Education, and Child Care Settings

On Sept. 29, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) adjusted quarantine recommendations. For non-healthcare, non-residential settings, quarantine is no longer recommended if a potential exposure occurs while both the infectious individual and the close contacts are wearing face coverings consistently and correctly. 

Keeping Children Healthy While School’s Out

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. While school is out, children should not have in-person play dates with children from other households. If children are playing outside their own homes, it is essential that they remain 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household.  The CDC provides guidance to protect children and others from getting sick.

Running Essential Errands

Grocery Shopping, Take-Out, Banking, Getting Gas, and Doctor Visits
As we take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting close contact, people are facing new challenges and questions about how to meet basic household needs, such as buying groceries and medicine and completing banking activities. The CDC provides advice about how to meet these household needs in a safe and healthy manner. 


Other Frequently Asked Questions

I have COVID-19 symptoms. What should I do?

If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Keep track of your symptoms, and take steps to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.


When should I seek emergency medical attention?

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.


What should I do if someone in my home is sick?

Provide support and help cover basic needs.

  • Continue to practice everyday preventative actions.
  • Keep the ill person in a separate room from others in the household.
  • Keep surfaces disinfected.
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Check your temperature daily. If a fever 100.5 or higher contact your healthcare provider.
  • Do not go out of your home, stay home and let family or friends bring food and essentials to your door step.
  • Practice self isolation at home for 14 days after your family member became ill to make sure you will not develop symptoms.

Click here for more information on caring for someone sick at home. (Spanish, Marshallese)


What should I do if my child is sick?

Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.  

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally shown mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.

If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider and keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible. Follow CDC’s guidance on what to do if you are sick.


Who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Based on what is known now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions
  • Click here to learn more about groups at higher risk of severe illness.

What You Can do if You are at Higher Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19 (Spanish, Marshallese)


Are pregnant people at higher risk?

It is not currently known if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant.

However, it is known that:

  • Pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.
  • Pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses from the same family as COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza.

Click here for more information.


How is the virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.


Can someone contract COVID-19 by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces or objects?

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. CDC recommends people practice frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand rub. CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. 


How easily does the virus spread?

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, which means it goes from person-to-person without stopping.

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people.
  • Information from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic suggest that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious.


What is community spread?

Occurs where individuals have been infected with the virus in an area and cannot specifically identify the source of the infection, or do not know how or where they became infected (e.g., cannot spread the illness to a specific event, like a cruise).


Should I wear a cloth face covering?

We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Face covering guidance is available from Iowa Department of Public Health here.


Can I make my own face covering?


Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.  A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.

  • Click here for more information on COVID-19 and animals.


How can I properly disinfect my home?

Information for properly cleaning and disinfecting your home is available from the CDC here.
Spanish | Marshallese