COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
- Keep Your Distance: Social distancing is the most important thing you can do to help. You may be contagious even if you do not have symptoms, and your choices directly affect the health of others. Please stay home as much as possible and follow Maine and New Hampshire emergency orders. Learn more about how to protect yourself and others.
- Donate Supplies: MaineHealth expects to be caring for people with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future and we are planning ahead. Learn more about how to donate supplies.
- Donate Blood: Maine communities are facing a critical need for blood donations during the coronavirus outbreak. Join MaineHealth in supporting the "Distance Saves Lives" blood drive.
- Provide Child Care: To support our care team members, MaineHealth has created a directory of community care options. Learn more about signing up to provide care to the families of our care team members.
- Thank our Care Team: Join the many people who have shared videos, chalked sidewalks and left flowers to show their deep appreciation of our brave and hard-working care team. View the MaineHealth Kudos Board.
- Donate Funds: The COVID-19 Response Fund is a safe and secure way to support our pandemic response efforts. Donations can be directed to your local community hospital.
COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus) is a new disease that causes flu-like symptoms. Most cases are mild to moderate.Some people, especially older adults and people with pre-existing medical conditions, may experience severe respiratory illness or death, if infected.
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*
- Shortness of breath
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the federal CDC web page for the latest information on COVID-19 signs and symptoms.
Clean your hands often.
- 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.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you’re sick.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- 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.
Wear a facemask if you are sick.
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the federal CDC web page for the latest information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Stay home except to get medical care.
- Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people in your home.
- Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
- Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
- Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. 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. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
Wear a facemask if you are sick.
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
- If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
- Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean your hands often.
- Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
- Soap and water: Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid sharing personal household items.
- Do not share: Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
- Wash thoroughly after use: After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday.
Clean high-touch surfaces in your isolation area (“sick room” and bathroom) every day; let a caregiver clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in other areas of the home.
- Clean and disinfect: Routinely clean high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but not your bedroom and bathroom.
- If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other person should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom.
High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
- Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
- Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. CDC disinfection guide
Monitor your symptoms.
- Seek medical attention, but call first: Seek medical care right away if your illness is worsening (for example, if you have difficulty breathing).
- Call your doctor before going in: Before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them your symptoms. They will tell you what to do.
- Wear a facemask: If possible, put on a facemask before you enter the building. If you can’t put on a facemask, try to keep a safe distance from other people (at least 6 feet away). This will help protect the people in the office or waiting room.
- Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department: Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the federal CDC web page for the latest information on what to do if you feel sick.
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 droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is 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 eyes.
Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. It is also possible that people who are infected with COVID-19, but not experiencing symptoms, can spread the illness to others.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the CDC FAQ page for the latest information on how the virus is spread.
If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, sore throat or muscle aches, please stay home and call your health care provider. Your doctor will help decide whether you should be tested.
Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.
- A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
- An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection
- An antibody test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1-3 weeks to make antibodies after symptoms occur. It is not yet known if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the federal CDC web page for the latest information on COVID-19 testing.