Frequently Asked Questions

This page is updated as needed and reviewed monthly by the 15th of the month.
(Updated 11/16/21)

If you have health-related questions or concerns, contact your healthcare provider.  For general questions about COVID-19, information about community resources, or if you are uninsured,  call 2-1-1 San Diego .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a trusted and valued source of information. Most of the information below comes from the CDC.

Overview and Symptoms

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Virus?

    A new (novel) coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 virus, is responsible for the Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). The virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December of 2019.

  • What is COVID-19?

    On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 as the official name of the disease responsible for causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The breakdown of the name COVID-19 is “CO” for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” for disease, and “-19” for 2019.

  • What is the source of the COVID-19 virus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animal species, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Genetic analysis of this virus suggests it originated in bats, but whether the virus jumped directly from bats to humans or whether there was an intermediary animal host is not yet known.

    Learn More

  • What are the symptoms?

    Not everyone with COVID-19 develops symptoms. Among those with COVID-19,  a wide range of symptoms have been reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

    Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with any of the following symptoms may have COVID-19:

    • 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
    • Diarrhea

    This is not an all-inclusive list. Visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date list of symptoms.

  • How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

    Person-to-person spread. Occurs through respiratory droplets produced when a person sneezes, coughs, or talks. It is believed to be the main way the COVID-19 virus is spreading – between people who are in close contact with one another (6 feet/2 meters or less for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period). 

    Airborne transmission of COVID-19. Also, may also be possible under certain conditions. There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to 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.

    Contact with infected surfaces or objects. It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. This route of transmission is less common. 

    Learn more about COVID-19 transmission or read more about airborne transmission

  • Can someone catch COVID-19 twice (recover from COVID-19 and then catch it again)?

    Recent evidence suggests that reinfection is possible, but is not common.

    Learn more

  • What is an outbreak of COVID-19?

    Outbreaks of contagious disease (such as COVID-19) generally consist of multiple cases of the disease in the same setting over a certain period of time. The precise definition of an outbreak depends on the disease involved and other factors. Below are definitions of COVID-19 outbreaks in the three common categories: skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), Non-SNF residential congregate facilities, and community (non-residential congregate) settings.  See our Triggers Dashboard for information about current community outbreaks in San Diego County.  

    SKILLED NURSING FACILITY SETTINGS

    • A SNF outbreak occurs when there is at least one case of facility-acquired laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in a resident.
    • There are 86 SNFs in San Diego County.
       

    NON-SNF RESIDENTIAL CONGREGATE SETTINGS

    • This category includes long-term care facilities retirement homes, senior care centers, homeless shelters, overnight camps, group homes, dormitories, detention facilities, jails/prisons, and other residential facilities.
    • A non-SNF congregate setting outbreak is defined as at least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period in epidemiologically-linked4 residents and/or staff.
       

    COMMUNITY SETTINGS

    • Community settings include all non-residential congregate settings, e.g., all workplaces, including adult and child daycare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities, restaurants and bars, gyms, social clubs, etc.:
    • At least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period in people who are epidemiologically-linked in the setting, are from different households, and are not identified as close contacts of each other in any other case investigation.
  • How are outbreaks identified?

    County staff interview all cases about their activities during the two weeks prior to their illness onset. They may mention places they worked, shopped, visited, went to church, attended a gathering, etc.  They also let us know about any known contact they may have had with an individual who is ill. Sometimes a common location is very easy to identify, such as when a person states that several other people at the workplace are sick are known close contacts and we confirm if these people/coworkers also have COVID and are from different households. 

    Other times, it may be that a person mentions a place and two other people unknown to that person mention having visited the same place within a 14-day period. Staff members then further exams that location to see if it could be possible that transmission could occur at the site. This involves looking at a business plan, possibly a site visit, further interviews, or evaluating other sources of information. If the setting is possible as a transmission location, we work with those at the site to minimize any ongoing risk and will list the location as a confirmed outbreak site.  If it is deemed that there is an on-going, active threat to public health and there is an action the public needs to take to protect themselves, we will make public the location of outbreaks.

    Another example might be the identification of a primary case, identification of close contacts at a site, and secondary cases occurring. County staff is able to draw a direct line between the cases;  and if they are not in the same household and the connection is a specific site, the County would identify that site as a community outbreak location.

    Being included on the outbreak list as the site of an outbreak does not necessarily mean any one person actually contracted illness at the site, only that our surveillance definition of an outbreak location has been met.

  • Why does the County not disclose the location of outbreaks?

    The County will only identify a specific location if there is an ongoing risk to the public’s health and there are specific actions that the public can take. For example, in the past, there have been instances of E. coli contamination and cases of tuberculosis where the public’s health was threatened, and the Public Health Officer identified the specific location. In the instance of COVID-19 outbreaks, none have been determined to be an ongoing threat to the public health. If it is deemed that there is an on-going, active threat to the public’s health and there is an action the public needs to take to protect themselves, we will make public the location of outbreaks.  This has occurred in many prior situations, such as tuberculosis identified in a school or worksite.

    Another consideration is that we don’t want businesses and others to be reluctant to come forward to report. If businesses are called out in a manner that they feel is punitive, other businesses are less likely to be upfront about concerns related to potential outbreaks in the future, thereby impacting both the ability to trace and efforts to combat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

    Moreover, while State licensing agencies have been able to provide this specific type of data, the County’s Public Health Officer is not able to do so. Information publicly disclosed by the Public Health Officer regarding communicable disease investigations must be de-identified to prevent it from being linked to a particular individual (Title 17, Section 2502 (f)(3) of the California Code of Regulations). Providing this sort of information has the potential to lead to either the identification of physical residential or work addresses of people who have contracted a disease, which would too closely link the disclosure to particular individuals.  Under Government Code section 6254 (k), the Public Health Officer may not provide these addresses in response to a Public Records Act request.

Risk of Infection and Serious Illness

Expand All | Collapse All

Testing and Treatment

Expand All | Collapse All

  • How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

    There are two types of tests – diagnostic tests and antibody tests.

    For the diagnostic test, there are two types of viral tests to determine if a person has a current or active infection: 

    • Molecular test(also known as a nucleic acid amplification (NAATs) test and
    • Antigen tests

    These diagnostic tests show if you have an active coronavirus infection.

    Molecular tests (like PCR tests) and antigen tests are both diagnostic tests.

    An antigen test may require a confirmatory molecular test depending on the result.

    Antibody tests look for the antibodies your immune system produced in response to a past infection.

    • These tests do not tell you when you had the infection, and therefore cannot be used to diagnose coronavirus.
    • A positive antibody test also does not necessarily mean you can’t be infected.
    • An antibody test (also known as a serology test) might tell you if you had a past infection.
    • Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.

    For more information visit the CDC and FDA websites:

    www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

    www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/coronavirus-disease-2019-testing-basics

  • Do I need to get tested?

    Please see our flowchart about COVID-19 Symptoms Requiring Testing.

    Call your healthcare provider to determine if you have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and if you should get tested—If you do not have a healthcare provider or are uninsured, call 2-1-1 for assistance or to be referred to a free County of San Diego testing site.  

    Learn more

  • Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

    Health plans are required to cover COVID-19 tests at no cost to the enrollee. It is recommended that you first contact your healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test.

    If you are unable to get a test from your healthcare provider, the County of San Diego (County) has over 50 free COVID-19 testing sites throughout the region. Results generally come back in approximately 3 days. Find a free testing site or call 2-1-1.

    Learn more

  • Can my child get tested for COVID-19?

    Most children, youth, and their caregivers can receive testing through the COVID-19 Collaborative for Children in partnership with Rady Children's Hospital. Contact your Rady pediatrician or e-mail covidcollaborative@rchsd.org for more information. 

    Children, youth and caregivers covered by Kaiser Permanente should consult with their pediatrician or physician provider directly, or through  www.kp.org.

    If you are unable to get a test for your child or youth from your healthcare provider, children 6 months old and older are able to be tested at any County test site. Find a free testing site or call 2-1-1.

  • What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

    If you are feeling sick with COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Testing is widely available and often recommended.

    Stay home except to get medical care and/or testing.

    Read the Home Isolation Instructions for COVID-19 and Health Officer Isolation Order to help protect other people in your home and community.

    Please see our flowchart about COVID-19 Symptoms Requiring Testing.

    If you do not have a healthcare provider or health insurance, call 2-1-1 to for assistance or to be referred to a County of San Diego testing site.

    Learn more

  • I feel sick, but don't have health insurance. How can I get help?

    If you need help finding medical care, call 2-1-1, which is available 24/7 to refer you to your closest community health clinic.

    If you are having difficulty breathing or keeping fluids down, go to an emergency room or call 911 right away.

  • What should I do if I am unable to work after being exposed to COVID-19?

    If a medical professional certifies that you are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a disability insurance claim. More information

    If you are a Californian and a medical professional certifies you are unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, you can file a paid family leave claim.

    Paid family leave provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60 to 70% of wages depending on income and range from $50 to $1,300 a week.

    For more information related to resources for California's Employers and Workers, visit this Labor and Workforce Development Agency webpage.

  • What will happen if I get sick?

    Call your healthcare provider for guidance and get tested as soon as symptoms develop. Many people have mild to moderate illness and are able to isolate and recover at home, however some individuals may need a higher level of care in the hospital.

    If you are feeling sick and think you have COVID-19, follow the guidance below, and see our Home Isolation Instructions for more information(The County of San Diego has a Temporary Lodging Program for individuals affected by COVID-19 who do not have a place to safely quarantine or isolate).

    More resources for people who are sick or caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.

    Learn more

  • What can I do if I cannot safely isolate from other people in my household?

    Residents of San Diego County may be eligible for temporary lodging at a local hotel. Ask your healthcare provider to contact the Temporary Lodging Line at 858-715-2350. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call 2-1-1 to get connected to a healthcare provider near you.

  • How is COVID-19 treated?

    Treatment for COVID-19 has evolved since the early days of the pandemic. Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

    People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses. Your healthcare provider will help you to decide what medications are best to take for your treatment.

    The scientific and medical community are researching and developing products that can be used to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection. While no single treatment can be considered a “cure” for COVID-19, some medications can be helpful.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, remdesivir (Veklury), to treat COVID-19. It is used in hospitalized patients, who have severe disease.

    The FDA is also allowing approved products to be used for emergency use to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in the outpatient setting. 

    • Monoclonal antibodies have been approved by the FDA, which help to keep high-risk people out of the hospital.
    • Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a lab that help boost the immune system to fight viruses. 
    • There are several monoclonal antibodies that have FDA EUA approval for adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older, weighing at least 40 kilograms [about 88 pounds]).
    • Monoclonal Antibody Regional Centers (MARCs) are open to treat COVID-19 positive patients, with mild-to-moderate symptoms. For more information, visit MARC
    • MARC at Clairemont Friendship Center also provides post-exposure prophylaxis treatment for persons who have been exposed to a COVID-19 infected person and are not fully vaccinated or are not expected to have an adequate immune response.
    • Children and adults are not required to have symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test in order to qualify for post-exposure prophylaxis treatment. 

     

    People who are infected should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. In severe cases, treatment may require hospital-level care to support vital organ function.

    People who are not sick enough to be hospitalized and who are only mildly ill may be advised by their healthcare provider to isolate and care for themselves at home. In some cases, the emergency department may send them home with oxygen. See Home Isolation Instructions for COVID-19.

    People at higher risk for serious illness, if infected with the COVID-19 virus, should contact their healthcare provider early to seek treatment, even if their illness is mild.

    Learn more

  • What is the difference between Diagnostic Testing and Diagnostic Screening Testing?

    Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is used to diagnose an individual with COVID-19.

    Diagnostic screening testing is recurrent testing of individuals without symptoms to identify COVID-19 early, stop transmission, and prevent outbreaks.

    The goal of diagnostic screening testing is to detect COVID-19 early, isolate infected people as soon a possible, and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Quarantine and Isolation

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

    Isolation and quarantine are used to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected people or to people who may be infected by separating those individuals from others to limit the spread of an infectious disease.

    Quarantine is for healthy people who have had contact with a person with COVID-19. Most people should self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and up to 14 days from when you last had contact with the individual who has known or suspected COVID-19 to prevent the spread and see if symptoms develop. Home Quarantine Guidance

    Isolation is for infected people, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, who have or may have COVID-19. They should stay home and away from others until recovered. Home Isolation Instructions

    Learn more

  • How is it decided whether a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must go to a hospital or special facility?

    The CDC, California Department of Public Health, and the County of San Diego provide general guidance that mild-moderately sick individuals should stay home and call their doctor for guidance. Ultimately, it is the clinical decision of the healthcare provider as to if their patient can recover at home or needs further, in-person medical evaluation, care, and possible testing. Many of these mildly sick individuals are advised to stay home to decrease potential spread of the virus. If someone is advised to stay home and symptoms worsen, they should call their healthcare provider again to re-evaluate.

  • What do I need to know about ending self-isolation and household quarantine?

    Here are the County's Home Isolation Instructions and Home Quarantine Guidance.

    Self-isolation:

    You should stay home until at least 10 days have passed (20 days for immunocompromised individuals) since your symptoms first appeared AND at least 24 hours after you have recovered. (The County of San Diego has a Temporary Lodging Program for individuals affected by COVID-19 who do not have a place to safely quarantine or isolate).

    Recovery is defined as:

    1.  Ten days have passed since your symptoms first appeared AND
    2.  You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours/1 day without the use of a fever-reducing medication AND
    3.  Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*.

    *Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

    See our Home Isolation Instructions for more information or contact your healthcare provider.

    Household quarantine:

    Your last day of quarantine is at least 10 days and up to 14 days from when you last had contact with the individual who has known or suspected COVID-19. If you continue to live with or care for a person with COVID-19, the quarantine guidance is as follows:

    • If you already started your 10-14-day quarantine and then have additional instances of close contact with a person with COVID-19 (such as any of the examples of close contact listed above), then you will have to restart the 10-14-day quarantine period. 
    • If you do not have any symptoms or if you have been tested for COVID-19 and your test results are negative, you still need to stay in quarantine for at least 10 days and up to 14 days and continue to watch for symptoms.

    See our Home Quarantine Guidance for more information. If you develop any symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider for medical advice.

    *If you are a healthcare worker, first responder, or other  critical infrastructure worker , please refer to your employer and the  CDC Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers web page for guidance.

  • What if I previously tested positive for COVID-19 or have been vaccinated, do I still need to quarantine?

    According to the CDC, quarantine is not required for those who gained immunity within three months.

    • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
    • People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
    • People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.
      • Although fully vaccinated people may not be required to quarantine, they should take the following precautions to keep themselves and those around them safe:
        • Get tested 5-7 days after being exposed to COVID-19 (even if you do not have symptoms)
        • Wear a mask when indoors in public spaces for 14 days following your exposure OR until you receive a negative test result for COVID-19.

    Review the following documents for more information:

Prevention

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What can I do to prevent getting COVID-19? VACCINES AND MORE.

    The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to be vaccinated. Vaccines offer the most protection if you are exposed to the virus.  County health officials recommend that everyone, who is eligible, get vaccinated to protect against the COVID-19 disease

    For local information on COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the County of San Diego's COVID-19 Vaccine website. For information on the different vaccines, visit COVID-19 Vaccine Resources and Links

    Here are more steps everyone can take to protect themselves and others:

    • Practice social distancing where required 
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces often.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home and isolate yourself away from others if you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wear a face covering anytime you are in a setting where masks are required for everyone, or if you are in an indoor public setting or business in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission, regardless of vaccination status. Currently, the County of San Diego is considered one of these areas. Read more about state-wide guidance for the use of face coverings at CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. 
    • Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and those around them. The more San Diegans who are vaccinated, the sooner the pandemic will be behind us.

    Learn more

  • What can I do to ensure myself and my family are prepared to deal with COVID-19?
    • Below are steps you should follow at home. Some steps will be the same as preparing for other emergencies. You can find guidance for specific groups like businesses, schools, and others on our Community Sector Support pages.

    Get your household ready:

    • Store a two-week supply of food, beverages, and medications for all those living in your home, including pets. 
    • Create an emergency contact list of family, friends, and neighbors.
    • Make a plan to care for family members or loved ones who may get sick, especially those who are at greater risk for serious complications if infected and discuss how they would like to be cared for if they got sick, or what would be needed to care for them in your home.
    • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure you have a continuous supply in your home.
    • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
    • Identify a room or area of your home, separated from the rest of the family, where a sick household member could stay if they got sick. If possible, a separate bathroom should be used as well. If this is not possible, call 2-1-1 San Diego for assistance.  

    During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

    • Follow the Public Health Orders and current face covering guidelines.
    • Stay informed but limit the amount of news you take in if it becomes too stressful.
    • Stay in touch with family, neighbors, and friends. For resources to help you stay fit and feel socially connected, visit our Live Well @ Home page.
    • Take care of your mental health. Tips to Maintain Mental Health and Wellness
    • Take care of your overall health by eating healthy, getting adequate physical activity, and staying on schedule for your routine, age-appropriate preventive health maintenance examinations. 
  • What is currently open?

    California fully reopened the economy on June 15, 2021. Please visit the County’s Safe Reopening website as well as the State’s Safely Reopening California for more information.

  • Why should I wear a face cover?
    • The CDC and CDPH recommend indoor face coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission. 
    • Currently, the County of San Diego is considered one of these areas. View County-specific data and transmission.
    • Per the CDC, masks are required for everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, in the following indoor settings:
      • Public transit systems (e.g., airports, trains, buses, Trolley)
      • Hospitals, healthcare settings, long-term care settings, and adult and senior care facilities 
      • Homeless Shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers
      • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers 
      • Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, & other youth settings
    • Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in all indoor public settings and businesses
    • Businesses may implement their own mask policies if they desire to be stricter.

     

    Read more about the state-wide guidance for the use of face coverings at CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. Learn more about CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

  • Why are people in San Diego County required to wear face covers?
    • An individual infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus even if they do not feel sick. Wearing a mask reduces respiratory droplets from being released into the air when someone coughs, sneezes, speaks, or breathes. Because these droplets can travel six feet before settling to the ground or other surface, social distancing may not be enough to ensure people are protected. Wearing a face covering reduces the spread of these droplets and their ability to infect others.
    • There is evidence that shows that wearing a mask also helps to protect the wearer from COVID-19. For these reasons, San Diegans should wear a mask when in the settings where masks are required for everyone. Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses. While infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, masks are recommended for vaccinated individuals in indoor public settings in order to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others. Learn more about CDC guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.
  • What are the most effective types of face coverings?

    Choose a mask that:

    • Has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric,
    • Completely covers your nose and mouth
    • Fits snugly against your face without gaps, and
    • Has a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top of the nose

    Avoid a mask that:

    • Is made of materials that make it hard to breathe, like vinyl,
    • Has exhalation vents, which allow virus particles to escape, and
    • Is intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks

    The CDC does not recommend the use of neck gaiters, unless they have two layers (or can be folded to make two layers). Evaluation as to the effectiveness of face shields are on-going, but their effectiveness is unknown at this time.

    For more information regarding face coverings, please visit the CDC’s Your Guide to Masks and Improve How Your Mask Protects You

  • Should I disinfect my groceries? If so, how?

    COVID-19 is spread mainly from close contact from person-to-person in respiratory droplets from a person who is infected. While it can be spread from contact with contaminated surfaces, this is NOT  the main way the virus is spread. When grocery shopping, individuals should most importantly cover their face, social distance, and wash their hands after coming home, after unpacking groceries, and before eating. Individuals should also wash reusable bags (if washable) or wipe them down with an EPA-approved disinfectant.

    Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.  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 food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.

    It is always important to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.

    If you would like to be extra cautious, you can wipe down the outside of food packaging such as cans, boxes, or other food containers.

    People should already be in the habit of and continue to wash fruits, vegetables, and other produce with cold water using friction—soap should not be used to wash edible foods because soap is not intended to be eaten.

    Learn more

  • Should I spray myself or my children with disinfectant?

    No. Disinfectant products are made to work on surfaces but can be dangerous for people. There are some chemical disinfectants, including bleach, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform, that may kill the virus on surfaces, but if the virus is already in your body, putting those substances on your skin or under your nose won’t kill it and can harm you.  These chemical disinfectants should also not be ingested.

    Learn more

  • Can I get coronavirus from a packages or mail?

    It is not believed that the virus can be transmitted through goods received through the mail. Even though the virus can survive for a short period of time on some surfaces, the virus cannot persist on a surface after being shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.  

    Learn more

  • I heard that someone I know tested positive for COVID-19. How do I know if I or a member of my family was exposed to someone who has COVID-19?

    If you or someone in your family was in close contact (within 6 feet or less, for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period) with anyone who is a known or suspected to have COVID-19, you and/or your family member(s) should self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and up to 14 days from the last time you had contact with that individual, unless you/ your family member are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms.

    You may be contacted by County Contact Tracers after the person with a positive test is interviewed, if it is determined that you were in close contact with them. See our Home Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19 Close Contacts for more information.

    Learn more

Healthcare

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What should I do if I need to visit a healthcare provider?

    If you are feeling sick with fever or cough or other symptoms, please call your healthcare provider, nurse hotline, or urgent care center first.

    If you need to go to the hospital, call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival. If you need to call 911, tell the 911 operator the exact symptoms you are experiencing so the ambulance provider can prepare to treat you safely.

    Learn more

  • What should I do about routine, elective, or non-urgent medical appointments I have scheduled?

    Visiting your doctor, dentist or hospital is still important!​

    It is important for you and your children to continue to see your doctor and dentist for ​routine medical visits ​(e.g. checkups, immunizations) and ​to visit an Emergency Department when there might be a medical emergency.​

    Healthcare systems are working hard to provide necessary services while minimizing risks to patients and healthcare personnel.

    Healthcare systems may decide to perform non-emergent or elective surgeries or procedures based on the need and their supply capacity, and when it is consistent with California State Guidance. Call your healthcare provider to see what services they are currently providing.

    Many providers are maximizing the use of telehealth visits whenever appropriate for the patient and the condition.

  • Can I visit loved ones in a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?

    Yes, visitors are allowed in facilities.  Regardless of their vaccination status, all visitors must be 1) screened for fever and COVID-19 symptoms; 2) must wear a well-fitting face mask and perform hand hygiene upon entry and in all common areas in the facility; and 3) must follow physical distancing guidelines and maintain at least 6 feet distance from other visitors from different households, as well as from facility staff and other residents. There are circumstances when visitors are permitted to interact with residents following modified guidelines.  For indoor visitation, visitors need to either be fully vaccinated or have had a COVID-19 test withing the previous 72 hours that is negative.  Please contact your facility or facility licensing entity for more specific guidance. 

    References: Order of the State Public Health Officer Requirements for Visitors in Acute Health Care and Long-Term Care SettingsAFL 20-22 (ca.gov) and PIN 21-40-ASC for long-term care facilities; AFL 21-31 (ca.gov) for acute care hospitals.

Congregate Living Facilities

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What protocols protect congregate living facilities against COVID-19?

    Infection control and prevention protocols such as screening staff, residents, vendors, and visitors and practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask wearing help prevent and protect congregate living facilities against COVID-19.  Long-term care facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, have established protocols for investigating outbreaks of infectious disease. Those same protocols have been expanded to respond to possible cases of COVID-19 and need to comply with requirements from the California Department of Public Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and/or the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Community Care Licensing Division. These include working with staff and administrators to isolate possible sick individuals, conducting thorough contact investigations among both staff and residents, and routine testing.  In addition, the California Department of Public Health has issued State Public Health Orders mandating that all staff who provide services or work in certain facilities indicated in the Health Orders be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 unless exempted for qualifying medical reasons or for religious beliefs.  The facilities indicated in the Orders include Acute Care Hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities, facilities such as Adult Residential and Assisted Living facilities licensed under CDSS, Regional Centers, clinics and doctor’s offices. Please contact the facility regarding questions about their specific protocols.

    References: AFL 21-34 (ca.gov)
                          PIN 21-44-ASC     

Social Interaction

Expand All | Collapse All

County of San Diego Efforts

Expand All | Collapse All

  • What is the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) doing to monitor cases of COVID-19 in San Diego County?

    The County of San Diego is working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as the local healthcare community and community partners to monitor and test for the virus that causes COVID-19 infection in San Diego County.

    In addition, the County of San Diego provides a daily update on COVID-19 cases in San Diego County, releases weekly status updates and news story, and convenes press conferences, as needed. 

    For information on the current situation in San Diego county, visit our Coronavirus in San Diego County web page. 

  • Why doesn’t the County release the names of restaurant and markets that have employees confirmed with COVID-19?

    Releasing the names of the businesses would not change the action needed by the public. 

    During these challenging COVID-19 times, all individuals should wash their hands frequently (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and avoid touching their face with unwashed hands); watch your distance, especially in crowds of people who are not from your household; and use a face cover in appropriate situations.

    In addition, COVID-19 is not transmitted through food—restaurants, grocery stores, markets and other food facilities have very clear prevention and sanitation guidelines and have been diligent about following those guidelines as well, as CDC and CDPH guidelines and local Public Health Orders.

  • Where can I learn more about the County of San Diego’s COVID-19 Response Plan?

    The County of San Diego COVID-19 Response Plan provides information for the public about the novel coronavirus and guidance on the public health impact on our community. The response plan outlines the county’s efforts to respond to this global incident including information on what the public can do, and provides resources and references related to COVID-19.

  • What is CalScope?

    CalScope is a COVID-19 antibody study organized by the California Department of Public Health.  This study allows us to learn more about how many people in California may have antibodies to the COVID-19 virus.  Participation in the study includes two (2) parts:

    1. Taking an online survey
    2. Taking a finger-prick blood test


    The test for this study looks for antibodies in the blood.  If antibodies are found, it shows that a person has been infected with the COVID-19 virus before or has been vaccinated against COVID-19. By looking for antibodies, it will help us understand how many people in California may have been infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated up to this point and how it is impacting our community.

    Households are randomly selected to participate.  Invitations to participate are sent out through the mail and participation is voluntary.  If you are selected and want to participate, you should follow the instructions provided in your invitation letter.

    For more information about the CalScope study or to request or register your test kit, visit www.calscope.org. Information is available in Spanish, Tagalog, and Chinese.

Frequently Asked Questions From Other Sources

Additional Resources

Where can I find more information about COVID-19?

Please see the following resources for more information about the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak: