Am I likely to become infected with COVID-19?
You can reduce your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 by taking proper prevention measures. These include washing your hands often, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, wearing a face covering when out in public and practicing social distancing to avoid close contact with others. Certain people are more at risk of getting COVID-19. These include:

  • People who are not vaccinated.
  • Those who live in communities where ongoing community spread of COVID-19 has been reported.
  • Healthcare workers, including first resonders, and those working within nursing homes and caring for patients with COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19.
  • Travelers returning from any areas where community spread is occurring.

How many cases of COVID-19 are there?
The number of cases changes on a daily basis. The most up-to-date information about the number of COVID-19 cases reported and where these cases are can be found at: John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource CenterThe Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and The World Health Organization. For a current COVID-19 case count in New York State with a breakdown by county, visit NYSDOH COVID-19 Tracker

What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause either mild illness, such as a cold, or can make people sick with pneumonia.

What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans, such as COVID-19. The COVID-19 virus has been detected in millions of people worldwide. For the most recent case information, visit CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary.

How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. 

COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact:

  • People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
  • When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.
  • Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
  • As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases. Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity. Smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.
  • With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.

COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission:

  • Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.
  • This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread.
  • There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.
    • Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.
  • Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.

COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces:

  • Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads.
How Easily Does COVID-19 Spread?
COVID-19 spreads very easily from person to person. How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza but not as efficiently as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.
When are people most contagious?
People with COVID-19 spread the most when they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but people who are infectious but asymptomatic for COVID-19 are able to spread virus as well. People who eventually develop symptoms of COVID-19 are believed to be able to spread the virus up to 48 hours prior to developing any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How severe is COVID-19?
Symptoms range from none, to mild (like a common cold), to severe symptoms that require hospitalization and can result in death. Older adults and those with other serious medical conditions (most commonly diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and chronic lung conditions) are at the most risk for severe disease, but deaths have also been reported among younger adults and children with no known serious medical conditions.
When should someone with COVID-19 get emergency medical attention?
Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
Who is at highest risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
According to limited research, older adults, people who have chronic medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease), and people who are immunosuppressed are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Research also shows that there are racial and ethnic disparities in both COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths. 
Can children get COVID-19?
Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and can get sick with COVID-19. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or they may have no symptoms at all (“asymptomatic”). Fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults. Babies younger than 1 and children with certain underlying medical conditions may be more likely to have serious illness from COVID-19. Some children have developed a rare but serious disease that is linked to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

You should seek immediate medical care for your child if he or she has:

  • Prolonged fever 
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Change in skin color - becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Decreased amount of frequency in urine
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion
Are pregnant women more at risk for COVID-19?
People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.People who are pregnant may also receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
Breastfeeding mothers and COVID-19
Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother, in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. See CDC COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Breastfeeding Women for more information.

Should I travel during the COVID-19 outbreak?
If you are planning to travel, visit CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel for the latest travel advisories related to COVID-19. 

Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Learn what you should do if you have pets. At this time, the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low. Learn about COVID-19 and pets and other animals.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipping from a country with widespread transmission of COVID-19?
Currently, there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.