Frequently asked questions
Should I wear a mask when I go outside?
As per CDC guidelines revised April 3rd, 2020, the CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
How do you differentiate between a common cold and COVID-19 infection?
Cough may be the first symptom to develop, followed by fever or shortness of breath. Fever and cough are the most common symptoms of COVID-19 but are not unique to it, as they can also be experienced with the common cold (although a fever is less common with a cold). Therefore, it is recommended that you reach out to a doctor if you are feeling ill. The only way to confidently determine if you have COVID-19 is to be tested. Your doctor can determine whether you meet the criteria to be tested.
How safe is it to get takeout from restaurants and coffee shops?
The main concern some people have is that containers and bags that the food/drink may come in may be contaminated. According to the FDA, there's currently no evidence of transmission of COVID from food packaging or containers but some people may still want to take extra precautions since COVID could theoretically survive on those surfaces.
In fact a lot of restaurants and delivery services are already taking extra precautions to try to prevent transmission like contactless delivery. And actually, the best things to do are the things you're likely already doing like washing your hands when you get home from getting the takeout and washing your hands before you eat.
But if you do want to be extra careful you can also do the following things:
- try to maintain social distancing with the person you're getting the takeout/delivery from
- minimize contact with the person as much as possible
- bring your own cup/mug to the coffee shop and wipe down the outside when you get your drink
- wipe down the containers of food when you bring them home
- transfer the food to another clean container once you get home
What is the difference between social distancing, self-quarantine, and isolation?
Social distancing: Staying at least six feet away from other people, and hence lessening your chances of infection and helping slow down the spread of disease. Examples of this include working from home, closing schools or switching to online classes, visiting loved ones by electronic devices, and cancelling or postponing conferences or large meetings.
Self-quarantine: People who have been exposed to the coronavirus and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 might practice self-quarantine for 14 days. This involves using standard hygiene and washing hands frequently, not sharing things like to towels and utensils, staying at home, and not having visitors, and staying at least 6 feet away from other people in your household.
Isolation: For people who are confirmed to have COVID-19, isolation is appropriate. Isolation is a health care term that means keeping people who are infected with a contagious illness away from those who are not infected. Isolation can take place at home or at a hospital or care facility. Special personal protective equipment will be used to care for these patients in health care settings.
How should you wear and care for your mask?
A good cloth mask should properly cover your nose and mouth, fit snuggly and comfortably, be secured by ear loops or ties, have multiple layers of fabric, allow you to breathe easily and be washable.
Before wearing your mask, clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
While wearing your mask, avoid touching or adjusting the mask— if you do, wash/sanitize your hands immediately.
To properly take off your mask, remove mask from behind (ear loops or ties), and avoid touching the front of the mask. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth during this process. Immediately after removal, clean hands with soap and water/ sanitizer.
You should wash your mask regularly, preferably daily.
To ensure evidence-based information on COVID-19, information on this resource guide has been reviewed by Harvard faculty with expertise in epidemiology, national security, and health policy as well as students from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.