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Coronavirus ​FAQs

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What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, cats and bats. 

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. 

How can the coronavirus spread?

Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold:

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it;
  • Occasionally, fecal contamination.

How can I protect myself?

Prevention

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
Should I wear a mask in public?

In Pennsylvania, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home. Masks are mandatory in all public spaces. Members of the public are encouraged to wear homemade cloth or fabric masks and save surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers and first responders.

Businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods. Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation.

Businesses must provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink.

Should I cancel my trip to a country with a level 3 travel advisory?

Yes. The CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to countries with a level 3 travel advisory at this time. For more travel information, visit our Travelers Page.  

Should I cancel my international travel because of novel coronavirus?

​The CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to a country with a level 3 travel advisory. For travel advice for other countries, please visit that country's Destination Page or Travel Health Notices page on the CDC's website.

What about animals or animal products imported from China?

​The CDC does not have 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.