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. Since COVID-19 vaccination began, most Texas COVID-19 deaths are among people not fully vaccinated. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the DSHS COVID-19 Vaccine Information page on this website.

You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.

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.

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. Data suggest that immunity from COVID-19 may last three months, or about 90 days.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. Another good way to prevent infection is to get the vaccine.

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 News Updates page 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. Since COVID-19 vaccination began, most Texas COVID-19 deaths are among people who are not fully vaccinated.

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.

Does staying home really help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Yes. If you are not fully immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine, staying home and only going out when necessary will help you minimize your exposure to COVID-19, and fewer exposed people means fewer cases of the disease. At this time, taking safety precautions to slow the spread remains very important. Preventing COVID-19 protects your health and helps our hospitals from becoming overrun and unable to treat everyone who needs care.

It is possible to stay socially connected with friends and family who don’t live in your home. Calling, video chatting and using social media can help. If you are not fully immunized for COVID-19 and you want to meet others (such as at small outdoor gatherings), stay at least 6 feet apart from others who are not fully vaccinated or who do not live in your household.

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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.

Why is CDC recommending wearing non-medical-grade masks or cloth face coverings instead of medical-grade surgical facemasks?

Medical facemasks and N-95 respirators should continue to be conserved for healthcare workers. So, do your part and save medical-grade equipment for healthcare workers and first responders.

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 How to Wear 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 lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), dementia, Down Syndrome, heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies), HIV, immunocompromised state, liver disease, overweight and obesity (BMI of 25 kg/m2 or higher), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking, type 1 or 2 diabetes, solid organ transplant, stroke and substance disorders. For the most up-to-date information, see the People with Certain Medical Conditions 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.

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, People at Increased Risk.

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 are unvaccinated, you should stay home for 14 days after your last close contact with a person who has COVID-19. If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19 for the entire 14 days. Your local health department may provide options to shorten quarantine. Check their website or contact them for more information.

CDC recently updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people, including what they should do if exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated, and you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine at home. However, you should get tested 3–5 days after the exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms, and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.

If you are in a high-risk category and you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19—call your doctor.

For the most up-to-date guidance, see the When to Quarantine 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, abdominal pain/discomfort, 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
  • Bluish lips or face

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

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or you have had close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Get tested if you have taken part in activities that put you in high risk for COVID-19 because you could not socially distance. Also, get tested if your medical provider or if your local or state health department refers you for testing. After testing, self-quarantine at home until you get your test results. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider or public health professional.

CDC recently updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people, including when they should get tested. If you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. You should also get tested 3–5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.

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 was sick, but now my symptoms are gone. When can I stop self-isolating?

If you had mild to moderate illness and cared for yourself at home, you can stop self-isolating when you meet all of the following criteria:

  • It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared, or, if you never had symptoms, since the date you had a positive test; and
  • You are fever-free for one full day (24 hours) without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
  • Your symptoms are improving.

If you had severe to critical illness from COVID-19, were hospitalized, or you are immunocompromised, talk to your doctor about when you can end isolation.

For the most up-to-date recommendations, see the Isolate If You Are Sick section of 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. Monoclonal antibodies can help your immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus. Those may include combination treatments of bamlanivimab/etesevimab (manufactured by Eli Lilly) or casirivimab/imdevimab (manufactured by Regeneron), both available under a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home.

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. Also, wear a mask or cloth face covering whenever you are caring for the sick person.
  • Provide your sick household member with a mask or cloth face covering to wear when they have to be around other people to help prevent spreading COVID-19. Wash it as you would normally wash laundry.
  • 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 for 14 days after their last contact with an infected person, except in limited circumstances. For the most up-to-date guidance, see the When to Quarantine 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
  • Bluish lips or face

This is not all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider 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 you should get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.

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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?

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talk with your healthcare provider. Pregnant or recently pregnant people should also do the same things as everyone else to avoid COVID-19 infection, including:

  • Consider wearing a mask. Vaccinated or not, wearing a mask in indoor public spaces can help protect you and everyone close to you.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, stay 6 feet apart from people who are outside of your immediate household.
  • 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 mother 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 mother is low, especially when she uses appropriate precautions before and during care of the newborn, such as wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene.

Pregnant people and mothers 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?

Based on available evidence, while fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, 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. While it appears that in most cases, children who become sick experience mild illness, some children can get severely ill with COVID-19. In rare cases, severe illness in children might lead to death.

Babies under 1 year old may be more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19. 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.

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. If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, pay particular attention to these symptoms:

  • fever of 100.0 degrees or higher
  • sore throat
  • new, uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing
  • diarrhea, vomiting, or stomachache
  • new onset of severe headache

Also, keep track of who your child comes into contact with, and keep your child at home. Call their 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, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. 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 COVID-19 in Children & Teens and MIS-C Info for Parents sections of the CDC website.

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Cleaning & Disinfecting

How long does the COVID-19 virus live on surfaces?

The virus is still considered to be new, and much is still being learned about it. Current evidence suggests that it may remain for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.

For your home, cleaning with a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent reduces the amount of germs on surfaces and decreases risk of infection from surfaces. In most situations, cleaning alone removes most virus particles on surfaces.

In addition to cleaning frequently-touched surfaces in your home, 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. Disinfecting kills any remaining germs on surfaces and reduces the spread of germs. To disinfect, use an EPA-registered household disinfectant for SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19). See also CDC’s recommendations for household cleaning and disinfection.

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 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.

How should you clean a cloth face covering?

Wash your cloth face covering after each use the same way you would normally wash laundry. Have a few on hand to reduce washing.

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.

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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.

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?

Yes. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, ships, taxis, ride-shares and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the US and in US transportation hubs such as airports and bus and train stations. Currently this applies to all people, including people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

For more information, see the Travel > Mask Requirement section of the CDC site.

Should I cancel my travel plans within the United States because of COVID-19?

According to CDC, you can safely travel within the U.S. if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Fully vaccinated people do not need to self-quarantine or get tested before or after travel within the U.S., unless their destination requires it.

For people who are not fully vaccinated, CDC recommends that you delay travel until you are fully vaccinated, because travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. If you must travel before you are fully vaccinated, follow all CDC recommendations on their Domestic Travel During COVID-19 page.

To find out if you’re considered fully vaccinated, visit the When You've Been Fully Vaccinated page of the CDC site. If you are unsure whether you should travel, visit the When NOT to Travel: Avoid Spreading COVID-19 page on CDC’s website.

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.

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

According to CDC, fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.

The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country, and even fully vaccinated travelers need to pay close attention to the situation at their destination before traveling.

CDC recommends that you do not travel until you are fully vaccinated. Even if you are fully vaccinated, you will be required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result within 3 days of travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before boarding a flight to return to the United States. You should also follow CDC’s International Travel Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel internationally, be sure to follow CDC’s International Travel Recommendations for Unvaccinated People.

What kind of preparation do I need to do if I am traveling outside of the US?

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.

Information about testing requirements for your destination may be available from the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health, or the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information.

What are international travelers entering the United States advised do?

On January 12, 2021, CDC announced an order requiring that all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel. Travelers are required to present the negative test result, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months, to the airline before boarding the flight.

With specific exceptions, several Presidential proclamations suspend and limit entry into the United States of noncitizens who were in certain countries during the 14-day period before they tried to come to the United States. For more information, including the list of countries, see CDC’s Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States page.

For the latest information on traveling internationally, visit the International Travel During COVID-19 page on the CDC site.

What precautions should I take after I travel internationally?

CDC after-travel recommendations for international travel vary depending on whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

Fully vaccinated people should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3–5 days after traveling internationally.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel. See CDC’s Travel Planner for up-to-date local travel information.

People who are not fully vaccinated should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3–5 days after international travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
    • Stay home (or isolate at your destination) and self-quarantine for a full 7 days, even if your test is negative.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19, isolate at home (or your destination) for at least 10 days after your positive test. For up-to-date information, see the Isolate If You Are Sick page on the CDC site.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 full days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
  • Watch your health and look for symptoms of COVID-19. Isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.

For the most up-to-date information, visit CDC’s After International Travel webpage.

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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.

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their blood plasma that may help treat those who have recently contracted the virus. If you have been vaccinated for COVID-19, you may not be able to donate plasma, but you may be able to donate other blood products. Check with your donation center to see if you qualify for convalescent plasma donation.

If you have been vaccinated for COVID-19, you may be required to defer your blood donation for two weeks. Check with your donation site for their requirements. Then 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 September 20, 2021