What You Need to Know
Florida HealthDisease Control
Why is the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) now being called COVID-19?
The World Health Organization made an announcement Feb. 11 that the official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus (previously known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV) is now COVID-19.
What is the status of the COVID-19 outbreak?
In December 2019, a novel (new) coronavirus was identified as the cause of a respiratory disease outbreak in Wuhan City, China, initially associated with a live animal/seafood market. As of January 31, 2020, >7,700 cases have been reported in China, and dozens of cases have been imported from Wuhan City to 18 other countries including the U.S. For the latest situation report please visit WHOs website https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
How many cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the Florida Department of Health?
There have been no cases of COVID-19 identified in Florida.
What is the Florida Department of Health doing to address COVID-19?
The Florida Department of Health is actively involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Epidemiologists will follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur. Epidemiologic consultation is available 24/7 through the county health departments and Bureau of Epidemiology at 850-245-4401.
The Florida Department of Health will communicate regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
What are the symptoms and signs of COVID-19?
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Difficulty breathing
Read about COVID-19 Symptoms
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is caused by a previously unrecognized coronavirus, called COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 please visit:
How does the virus spread?
This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. At this time, it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a halo or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under a microscope. These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper respiratory illness in humans and are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and neurologic disease in animals.
If coronaviruses usually cause mild illness in humans, how could this new coronavirus be responsible for a potentially life-threatening disease such as COVID-19?
There is not enough information about the new virus to determine the full range of illness that it might cause. Coronaviruses have occasionally been linked to pneumonia in humans, especially people with weakened immune systems. The viruses also can cause severe disease in animals, including cats, dogs, pigs, mice, and birds.
How long can COVID-19 survive in the environment?
The length of time that the virus survives likely depends on a number of factors. These factors could include the type of material or body fluid containing the virus and various environmental conditions such as temperature or humidity. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions are designing standardized experiments to measure how long COVID-19 can survive in situations that simulate natural environmental conditions.
Are there disinfectants available that can inactivate (kill) COVID-19?
Right now, there are no disinfectant products registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on environmental surfaces that are specifically listed as having the ability to kill COVID-19. However, related viruses that have similar physical and biochemical properties can be killed with bleach, ammonia or alcohol, or cleaning agents containing any of these disinfectants. Cleaning agents should be used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 infection in the United States?
What should I do if I think I (or someone in my family) might have COVID-19?
- Consult a health-care provider as soon as possible. Call ahead and tell them before you visit that you think you may have COVID-19 so they can take precautions to prevent exposing other people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- If you have a surgical mask, wear it during close contact with other people. A mask can reduce the number of droplets coughed into the air.
- Remember, very few respiratory infections will be COVID-19.
- Please review your signs, symptoms and travel history thoroughly with your physician.
- 24/7 Consultation is available to physicians through contacting their county health department (floridahealth.gov/chdepicontact) the Bureau of Epidemiology at (850) 245-4401.
If I were exposed to COVID-19, how long would it take for me to become sick?
The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is called the "incubation period." The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically 2 to 14 days, although in some cases it may be longer.
How can I protect myself?
There are some common-sense precautions that you can take that apply to many infectious diseases. The most important is frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of alcohol-based hand rubs (see Prevention & Treatment https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html and Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/). You also should avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands and encourage people around you to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Where can I get more information about COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are excellent sources of information about this evolving outbreak. You can access their websites here:
For Florida specific information, please consult The Florida Department of Health website:
What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection available online.
Is it safe to travel to China or other countries where COVID-19 cases have occurred?
The United States State Department has issued a Level 4 Do not Travel Advisory to China which means that they recommend that all travel to China is cancelled. The situation is evolving. These notices will be updated as more information becomes available. https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/travel-alert-level-4-do-not-travel-to-china/
What if I recently traveled to China and got sick?
If you were in China and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after you left China, you should
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
CDC does have additional specific guidance for travelers available online.
Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.
What are the treatments?
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Learn about COVID-19 Treatment.
Should I be tested for COVID-19?
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare provider and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact2 with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare provider and mention your recent travel or close contact. Your healthcare provider will work with the Florida Department of Health and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
How do you test a person for COVID-19?
At this time, diagnostic testing for COVID-19 can be conducted only at CDC.
State and local health departments who have identified a person under investigation (PUI) should immediately notify CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 770-488-7100 to report the PUI and determine whether testing for COVID-19 at CDC is indicated. The EOC will assist local/state health departments to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately to CDC, including during afterhours or on weekends/holidays.
For more information on specimen collection see CDC Information for Laboratories.
Is COVID-19 the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?
No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged COVID-19 is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. The Florida Department of Health and CDC recommend that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
What about animals or animal products imported from China?
CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. The United States Department of Agriculture regulates the importation of animals and animal products, and CDC regulates the importation of animals and animal products capable of spreading human disease.