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Frequently Asked Questions

*Information on the Stay Healthy Guidelines here*

What is the most important thing for Idahoans to do at this time?

  • Stay informed about the latest information and recommendations from public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently check  website as well as the websites for the local public health districts for the latest Idaho-specific information and follow the recommendations of local officials to the best of your ability.
  • Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings in public places, in all indoor public places, and in outdoor places where at least six feet of distance cannot be maintained.  Masks should be worn over the mouth and nose.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently and avoiding touching your face
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people who are not in your household whenever possible.
  • Cover your cough or sneezes.
  • Stay at home if you are sick or have symptoms that might be COVID-19 and talk to your healthcare provider or public health department about testing.
  • Stay at home except to get medical care if you have been exposed to someone that has COVID-19 , and call your medical provider to determine next steps.
  • Follow public health travel recommendations to avoid unnecessary risk; these are available on the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Travel page.

Should I get tested for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

You do not need to seek medical attention for a mild respiratory illness such as a cold. However, if you have had close contact with a person with known COVID-19 infection or live in or traveled to an area with ongoing spread and you develop symptoms that might be COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and ask for instructions about how to seek care.

At this time, testing is mostly directed toward people with symptoms, however, some people who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 may also be recommended for testing.

Find more information on testing recommendations from the Testing Task Force here. 

Information from CDC about testing can be found here.

What is the process for testing novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Testing for infection with the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 is being done on a patient-by-patient basis. Call your primary care provider or your local health department to ask about testing.

During influenza season, testing for influenza may also be needed since the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 can be similar.

There may be a cost associated with testing. Labs report their test results to the state, and the number of tests done and the number of people who test positive are posted on this website each day. Tests can vary in the time it takes to get results.  It can take from 1-7 days or more depending on the type of test, how busy the laboratory is that is testing the specimen, and their testing supply inventory. 

What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

How long do symptoms take to appear after exposure?

After someone is exposed to another person with COVID-19, symptoms usually appear in 2-14 days.  

People who develop symptoms can spread COVID-19 during the 1-3 days before their symptoms start and for about 10 days after symptoms start.  Some people with weak immune systems or more severe illness or who are in the hospital due to COVID-19 may be infectious to others for up to 20 days.

Some people infected with COVID-19 will not develop symptoms but will be able to spread infection to others. These are called asymptomatic infections.

What is the likelihood that I, or someone in my family, could be exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

It’s important to remember that most people (currently thought to be about 80 percent) infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 will not have a severe illness. 

A smaller group of people – mostly those who are older or who have certain medical conditions   are at greater risk for more severe illness.  Factors associated with more severe illness include increasing age, cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a weakened immune system, obesity, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and diabetes. Other medical conditions may increase the risk of severe illness as well.   More information on risk factors for severe COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.

When will a vaccine be available?

Multiple companies are working on developing vaccines for COVID-19 and several vaccines are in clinical trials (studies in people).  Vaccine is likely to become available in small amounts at first over many months. 

How should households with confirmed coronavirus cases handle household waste?

To protect sanitation workers, households with residents infected or suspected to be infected with COVID-19 should carefully and tightly enclose any waste that may be contaminated with the virus in appropriate bags. Consider double-bagging the waste and ensure that curbside containers are not overfilled so the lids can close completely. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any COVID-19 waste. More information is available on the Idaho DEQ Coronavirus Information page.

Can my dog or cat become sick with COVID-19?

In the U.S., a small number of pets have been found to have COVID-19. It is believed they acquired the virus from exposure to people with SARS-CoV-2 infections. Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States.

If you are sick with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with people, your pets, and other animals. If no one else can care for your pet while you are sick, you should wash your hands before and after you interact with your animal and wear a facemask or cloth face covering.

For more information:

For the USDA announcement of the first positive pets in the U.S.:

What is Idaho doing to monitor the coronavirus risk?

Idaho Public Health officials are monitoring changes in numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in each county and public health district, and the state.  We are working with the Governor’s Office and other state agencies, including the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, local public health districts, hospitals, laboratories, and healthcare providers around the state, as well as CDC and other states. We are working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through contact tracing efforts and providing recommendations for infection prevention and control such as social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. 

Additionally, Gov. Brad Little launched the Coronavirus Working Group early in the outbreak.  This working group is dedicated to supporting Idaho’s public health agencies and increasing coordination and communication around the multiple aspects of the planning and response effort.  Other working groups formed by Gov. Little include a Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, and an Economic Rebound Advisory Committee

This website is the best source for Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus response.

If you have additional questions, please visit the Contact Us page of this website.

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