Frequently Asked Questions

Texas Case Counts microscopic example of a coronavirus

Below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory disease spreading worldwide.

On this page:


Basics & Prevention

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

For the most up-to-date information, see the How COVID-19 Spreads section of the CDC website. CDC is learning more about COVID-19 every day and will update this section of their website as more information becomes available.

How can I help protect myself and others?

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the DSHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information page on this website.

Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines do not stop 100% of cases. But people who are up to date on their vaccines are less likely to be infected. They are also better protected from severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Masks Protect Everyone. CDC recently updated its mask guidance for fully vaccinated people and when they should get tested. Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status, can help protect you and everyone close to you. State and CDC mask recommendations are available for schools, public transportation, and healthcare settings.

Some businesses may have mask preferences for their employees and customers.

DSHS recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID 19:

  • Consider wearing a mask. Vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you.
  • Practice social distancing and avoid close contact with others:
    • Outside your home: Stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowded places.
    • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with household members who are sick. Avoid sharing personal items and use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members, if possible.
  • 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, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The FDA urges consumers not to use certain sanitizers that contain methanol or 1-propanol. These substances can be harmful when absorbed by the skin.
  • Clean frequently-touched objects and surfaces daily. If someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces. Use a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Can someone get COVID-19 more than once?

Yes. Getting COVID-19 (or any infection) more than once is called reinfection. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 may have some immune protection from reinfection for a few months, but it is possible that the recovered person could get COVID-19 again if exposed after that time.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a safer way to gain immunity than getting the infection itself. So, it is important for everyone to stay up to date and get all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters for those eligible and additional doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

What are COVID-19 variants, and do we have them in Texas?

Variants are different strains of a virus. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

We know that some of these variants are more contagious than others and are starting to spread in Texas. This is why we need to continue to take prevention steps and precautions against COVID-19, including getting vaccinated.

For more information about variants in the U.S., see the About Variants page on the CDC site. For more information about variants in Texas, visit the COVID-19 Variant FAQs and Variants and Genomic Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in Texas pages on the DSHS website.

What is social distancing, and does it help?

Social distancing, also called physical distancing, involves staying at least 6 feet away from other people to avoid catching or spreading a virus. It’s a fancy term for avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. Yes, it does help. At the beginning of the pandemic, social distancing was one of the primary methods we had available to help protect ourselves and others. And it continues to work today.

However, unlike the beginning of the pandemic, we now have safe, powerfully effective vaccines and plenty of them. Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. Texans who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.

Additionally, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status, can help protect you and everyone close to you—especially when social distancing is not possible.

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Cloth Face Coverings & Masks

Should I wear a mask or cloth face covering in public?

Wearing a mask or cloth face covering may prevent the person wearing it from spreading COVID-19 to the people around them. A mask or cloth face covering also offers some protection to the person who is wearing it. Sometimes infected people don’t have symptoms (sometimes referred to as asymptomatic). So even if you don’t feel sick, wearing a mask or cloth face covering may help prevent you from getting COVID-19 and spreading it to those around you.

To be effective, the mask or cloth face covering should cover your nose and your mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face.

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. But vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you. State and CDC mask recommendations are available for schools, public transportation, and healthcare settings. Some businesses may also have mask preferences for their employees and customers.

I’ve had COVID-19. Can I stop wearing a mask and keeping a physical distance from others?

No, don’t stop wearing a mask and keeping a physical distance from others. Even if you have had COVID-19, you can get reinfected with it and infect others. Also, variants of the virus are emerging in the U.S. So, until we know more about the virus and its variants, you should still wear a mask and keep a safe distance from others, even if you have recovered from COVID-19.

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. Still, like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines do not stop 100% of cases. But fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected. They are also better protected from severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Whether you’ve had COVID-19 in the past and whether you’re vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you. State and CDC mask recommendations are available for schools, public transportation, and healthcare settings. Some businesses may also have mask preferences for their employees and customers.

Should I wear two masks for best protection against COVID-19?

CDC recommends you use at least two layers of material. You can use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. Or you can wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

CDC recommends you not combine two disposable masks. They are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.

For the most up-to-date information, see the Improve How Your Mask Protects You section of the CDC website.

Do I still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people if wearing a mask or cloth face covering?

Wearing a mask or cloth face covering is just a part of your overall protection plan to keep you and others from spreading and getting COVID-19. Likewise, social distancing, or staying 6 feet away from others, is an additional public health measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect people and communities from COVID-19. But vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you. State and CDC mask recommendations are available for schools, public transportation, and healthcare settings.

Are there people who shouldn’t wear a mask or cloth face covering?

Yes. Children under 2 years old should not wear masks or cloth face coverings. Also, anyone who has trouble breathing or who is unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask or cloth face covering without help should not wear one.

Is there a correct way to put on, adjust, or remove a mask or cloth face covering?

Yes. Wash your hands before putting on your mask. Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face. Make sure you can breathe easily. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when you put on, adjust, or remove your mask or cloth face covering. Always wash your hands immediately after putting on, adjusting, or removing your mask or cloth face covering, because you can pick up the virus on your hands by touching it. Take off your mask or cloth face covering carefully by only touching the ear loops or ties, and wash it before wearing it again.

See also the Your Guide to Masks page on the CDC site.

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High-Risk Populations

Who’s at high risk for serious illness from COVID‑19?

While everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19, some people are at higher risk for getting very sick from the virus.

People aged 65 years and older have an increased risk of developing serious illness if they get sick with COVID-19.

Available evidence also suggests that people of any age with certain medical conditions have an increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Those conditions are cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), dementia, diabetes (type 1 or 2), Down syndrome, heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or possibly high blood pressure), HIV, immunocompromised state (weakened immune system), mental health disorders, overweight and obesity (BMI of 25 kg/m2 or higher), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking (current or former), solid organ or blood stem cell transplant, stroke, substance disorders, and tuberculosis.

Certain groups of people, such as people living in rural communities, racial and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and others, may also be at increased risk and/or require extra precautions. For more information about these populations, see the Communities & Other Specific Groups page of the DSHS COVID-19 website, as well as CDC’s page, COVID-19 Information for Specific Groups of People.

If you are in a high-risk category, call your doctor as soon as you get sick and get their advice before you go anywhere. If you can’t breathe or have severe chest pain, call 9‑1‑1 and/or immediately go to the ER.

Adults and children who become infected may not show symptoms, yet they can still spread the virus to others. Therefore, everyone should take precautions to avoid becoming infected and infecting others.

If you are sick or are caring for someone who is sick, you can use CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.

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If You or a Loved One Is Sick or Had Contact with Someone Sick

What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should follow CDC’s latest recommendations on when and how to quarantine. What you do depends on whether you have received all recommended vaccines.

If you’ve had close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are in one of the following groups:

  • You are 18 years old or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have NOT received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
  • You received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
  • You are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary series.

Follow these recommendations for how to quarantine:

  • Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home, if possible.
  • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 and get tested according to the following:
    • If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate until you receive your test results. If you test positive, follow CDC's isolation recommendations.
    • If you do not develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
      • If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
      • If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 5 days from the date of your positive test (if you do not have symptoms). If you do develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days from the date your symptoms began (the date the symptoms started is day 0). Follow recommendations in the isolation section below.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, as well as others outside your home throughout the full 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.

You do not need to quarantine at home if you are in one of the following groups. But you should wear a mask when around others for 10 days and get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date guidance, see the Quarantine and Isolation page of the CDC site.

I feel sick. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms reported with COVID-19 include chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Symptoms appear 2–14 days after exposure.

If you think you may be sick, you can use CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.

If you are generally in good health and get sick, consider getting a COVID-19 viral test and then stay home and manage your symptoms. Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse.

If you are in a high-risk category, call your doctor as soon as you get sick and get their advice before you go anywhere.

What are the emergency warning signs, and when should a sick person call 9-1-1?

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

This is not all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider or 9-1-1 for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19. You should get tested at least 5 days after you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

You should also get tested if you have been asked to or referred to be tested by your school, workplace, healthcare provider, or local health official.

For the most up-to-date information, see the Testing for COVID-19 section on the CDC website and the DSHS COVID-19 Testing Information page.

Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?

Yes. Test results reflect the state of illness at the time when you are tested. Someone can test negative one day, then get exposed, and test positive on a later day. If a person is in the early stages of infection, it is possible the test will not detect the virus and come back negative.

I tested positive for COVID-19. When can I stop self-isolating?

If you had symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed.

  • You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.)
  • You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period. Avoid people who are at high risk for severe disease until after at least 10 days.
  • If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.

If you didn’t have symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of your positive viral test (based on the date you were tested) and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for your positive test.

  • If you continue to have no symptoms, you can end isolation after at least 5 days.
  • You should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10 (day 6 through day 10). If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to isolate for 10 days. Avoid people who are at high risk for severe disease until after at least 10 days.
  • If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Follow the recommendations above for ending isolation for people who had COVID-19 and had symptoms.

For the most up-to-date information, see the Quarantine and Isolation page on the CDC website.

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Caring for Yourself or Someone Else at Home

How do I treat COVID-19?

If you are sick or are caring for someone who is sick, you can use CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.

At Home

If you are generally in good health and get sick, you should consider getting tested and then stay home and manage your symptoms like you would for a cold or the flu. Manage your symptoms, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest and good nutrition. Call your doctor if symptoms get worse.

If you are in a high-risk category, call your doctor as soon as you get sick, and get their advice before you go anywhere.

Outside the Hospital

If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized but may be at high risk of disease progression, call your doctor and get their advice before you go anywhere. Your doctor may recommend treatment to prevent severe illness and hospitalization. See the COVID-19 Therapeutics Information page or talk to your healthcare provider if you are in a high-risk category.

In the Hospital

Only the very sick need hospitalization. If you are admitted for COVID-19, your attending doctors will decide what approach to take for your treatment.

How do I care for someone at home who is sick?

  • Have them care for their symptoms like they would if they had the flu. Make sure they rest, stay hydrated, and get good nutrition. See if over-the-counter medicines for fever help the person feel better.
  • Monitor them for worsening symptoms, especially shortness of breath. Call their healthcare provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning. See the question above for treatments that may be available.
  • Disinfect objects you pass back and forth, and then wash your hands. Practice good hygiene.
  • Limit contact with the sick household member as much as possible. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from the sick person. Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible). Eat in separate rooms or areas.
  • Wear a mask and ask the sick person to wear a mask before entering the room.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as utensils, food, and drinks.
  • You can wash their laundry with yours. Here are some tips for how to handle their laundry:
    • If you have them, wear disposable gloves when handling their dirty laundry, then throw the gloves away.
    • Do not shake dirty laundry.
    • Wash items using the warmest possible water, and dry items completely using the highest appropriate heat setting.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers.
    • Even if you used disposable gloves, wash your hands immediately after handling dirty laundry, and again after handling and disinfecting dirty hampers.
  • Caregivers should stay home to quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms after their last contact with an infected person, except in limited circumstances. For the most up-to-date guidance, see the Quarantine and Isolation page of the CDC site.

For the most up-to-date recommendations, see the Caring for Someone Sick at Home section of the CDC website.

When do I call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital?

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

This is not all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider or 9-1-1 for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Do home remedies help?

Home remedies and therapies are not proven to cure COVID-19 nor ensure you won't get it. That's why it is important to focus on prevention. Eating healthfully, getting regular physical exercise, getting good sleep, and lowering stress levels are great ways to keep your immune system healthy. In addition, authorized COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from COVID-19. So, it is important for everyone to stay up to date and get all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters for those eligible and additional doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

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Pregnant People & Children

Are pregnant people at greater risk from COVID-19?

According to CDC, pregnant people do have a greater chance of developing severe illness with COVID-19 than the general public. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 may be more likely to have adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. For more information, see the Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People section of the CDC website.

How can pregnant people protect themselves?

COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and is recommended for people who are pregnant. Also, everyone who is eligible, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, should get a booster shot. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talk with your healthcare provider.

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you should also:

  • Consider wearing a mask. Vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from people who are outside of your immediate household if you are not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick or who have been recently exposed to COVID-19.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The FDA urges consumers not to use certain sanitizers that contain methanol or 1-propanol. These substances can be harmful when absorbed by the skin.
  • Clean frequently-touched objects and surfaces using soap or detergent.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When you must go out, practice social distancing. Stay 6 feet from others outside your immediate household.

Pregnant people should also continue to seek health care throughout their pregnancy. Visit your healthcare provider for all recommended appointments during and after pregnancy.

Can COVID-19 be passed from birth parent to child?

According to CDC, infections causing COVID-19 in newborns born to mothers with COVID-19 are uncommon; however, some newborns have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 shortly after birth. It is unknown if these newborns got the virus before, during, or after birth from close contact with an infected person. However, current evidence suggests that the risk of a newborn getting COVID-19 from its birth parent is low, especially when they use appropriate precautions before and during care of the newborn, such as wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene.

Pregnant people and birth parents of newborns who are diagnosed with COVID-19 should discuss with their healthcare provider the risks and benefits of having their newborn stay in the same room with them.

For more information about COVID-19 and pregnancy, caring for newborns, and breastfeeding, visit the Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People and Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns pages of the CDC website.

Are there special needs for children?

Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Some children can get severely ill with COVID-19. In rare cases, severe illness in children might lead to death. Also, children with certain underlying conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and sickle cell disease, may be more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19. So, it is important for children to stay up to date and get all recommended vaccines, including boosters for eligible age groups and additional doses for the moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in adults and children and can look like symptoms of other common illnesses such as colds, strep throat, or allergies. Call your child's healthcare provider to discuss whether to get your child tested or to seek medical care for severe symptoms.

In some cases, children with COVID-19 might develop a rare but serious complication called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS‑C). Contact your child’s healthcare provider if your child has symptoms of MIS-C: fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, bloodshot eyes, or dizziness or lightheadedness (signs of low blood pressure). Seek emergency care if your child shows any of these warning signs of MIS‑C: trouble breathing; pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds; or severe abdominal pain. For more information and resources, see the MIS-C Info for Parents section of the CDC website.

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Cleaning & Disinfecting

Does cleaning frequently-touched objects and surfaces really help?

It can. COVID-19 may live on surfaces for different lengths of time. We all touch certain things frequently: doorknobs, light switches, faucets, countertops, and more. If you touch something that was just touched by someone with the virus on their hands, you could pick up the virus on yours. This is not thought to be the most common way that the virus is spread, but it is possible to spread it this way. That’s why we recommend you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and clean high-contact surfaces often.

What cleaning products should I use?

The right product to use can depend on the setting. At home, cleaning with a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent is recommended to reduce the amount of germs on surfaces and decreases risk of infection from surfaces. In most situations, cleaning alone removes most virus particles on surfaces. Disinfection of surfaces at home is likely not needed unless someone in your home is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours.

CDC has different recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting work places and healthcare settings that can be found on their website.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a list of products to use against coronavirus. Refer to it to learn about cleaning products that kill the coronavirus when used according to the label directions. Be sure to check manufacturer's guidelines about cleaning electronic equipment, such as cell phones, laptops, touch screens, and keyboards.

How do I disinfect my home after caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19?

You should disinfect your home when someone is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours. Use a disinfectant product from EPA List N that is effective against COVID-19. Always follow the directions on the label. For more information, see the When Someone is Sick: Disinfect Safely section of the CDC website.

How do I handle the laundry of a sick person?

You can wash their laundry with yours. Here are some tips for how to handle their laundry:

  • If you have them, wear disposable gloves when handling their dirty laundry, then throw the gloves away.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Wash items using the warmest possible water, and dry items completely using the highest appropriate heat setting.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers.
  • Even if you used disposable gloves, wash your hands immediately after handling dirty laundry, and again after handling and disinfecting dirty hampers.

How do I deal with grocery shopping?

Consider wearing a mask. Vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you.

Use wipes to clean the handles of the shopping cart or basket. If you are not fully vaccinated, be sure to practice social distancing while shopping, keeping at least 6 feet between you and other people who are not members of your household. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you leave the store. Finally, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you return home.

You can also try curbside pickup or delivery services.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is currently no evidence that links food, food containers, or food packaging with transmission of COVID-19. However, like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. If you are concerned about contamination of food or packaging, wash your hands after handling them. Wash your hands before you prepare food and before you eat. Regularly clean and disinfect kitchen counters.

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Pets & Livestock

Should I be concerned about pets or other animals getting or spreading COVID-19?

Currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19. A small number of animals have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19. If you are sick, limit contact with animals to minimize risk to them. For more information, see the Animals and COVID-19 page on the CDC website.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick?

It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. If possible, have someone else in your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a cloth face covering when in close contact with them.

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Travel

Do I need to wear a mask when I travel?

Travel contributes to interstate and international spread of COVID-19. Wearing masks that completely cover the mouth and nose reduces the spread of COVID-19. Federal guidelines may require that you wear a mask depending how and where you travel.

For the most up-to-date information, see the Travel > Mask Requirement section of the CDC site.

Should I cancel my travel plans because of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC guidance is updated frequently. With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, heed the advice of CDC and U.S. State Department travel notices, advisories, and recommendations. For interstate travel within the U.S., check with your destination for any COVID-19 travel advisories and/or closures.

For additional information, visit DSHS’s Information for Travelers page.

What are the guidelines for traveling outside of the U.S.?

Check if your airline or destination requires any health information, testing, or other documents. Some destinations require testing before travel and/or after arrival. If you do not follow your destination’s requirements, you may be denied entry and required to return to the United States. You may have to pay any related airline fees. If you test positive at your destination, you might be required to isolate. You might be delayed from returning to the United States as scheduled.

You may be required to provide proof of vaccination and/or a negative test result before returning to the U.S. And upon your return, you may be required to quarantine.

For up-to-date information, see the International Travel section of the CDC website.

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Other Questions about Safety

Is it safe to give blood?

Yes, those who are well can donate blood, according to CDC.

If you are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19, it is still important to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands. Contact your local blood donation sites for information about giving blood during COVID-19. Call ahead to the donation center to make an appointment, in case they are not taking walk-in donations.

Check with your donation site for their requirements. If you have been vaccinated for COVID-19, bring your vaccination card to your next donation; some donations sites will want to know which vaccine you got and your dosing schedule.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?

The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in treated drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods used in most municipal drinking water systems use filters and disinfectants to remove or kill germs, like the virus that causes COVID-19. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates water treatment plants to ensure that treated water is safe to drink.

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Vaccines

See the COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines in development and their distribution across Texas.

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This page is being updated as new information becomes available.

Last updated January 11, 2022