FAQs

General Questions About COVID-19

Prevention & Preparation

Vaccine & Treatments

Economic Impact Payments & Tax Deadlines

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

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General Questions About COVID-19

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new respiratory illness that can affect your lungs and airways, which is being spread from person to person by close contact and respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. The CDC considers the coronavirus to be a serious public health threat. It’s important for you to familiarize yourself of the disease and take steps to help prevent its spread. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: According to the CDC, coronavirus’s symptoms are a fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and a cough. Other reported symptoms can include tiredness, body aches, sore throats, runny nose, and fevers over 102 degrees.

Q: What should I do if I have symptoms?

A: If you show signs of COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor or healthcare provider. For many patients, COVID-19 symptoms are mild, but can also be severe and even fatal. Estimates are changing, but 14 days is the current guidance for home isolation for patients of COVID-19.

Q: What does the CDC list as people who are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

A: The CDC has listed the following groups of individuals as those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised (Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications).
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

Q: What is the federal government doing?

A: The federal government is working with state and local officials to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the United States. This strategy involves working to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed by a high number of infected individuals at once. Congress has now also passed three legislative packages to provide additional resources to medical workers and health organizations fighting the coronavirus and implement economic relief for individuals, families, businesses and others negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The federal government is also funding and overseeing efforts to develop medical therapies and vaccines to treat and prevent COVID-19.  For additional information about how the federal government is responding to coronavirus, you can find additional information here.

Q: What can I do to keep informed about COVID-19?

A: The best way to protect yourself is to stay updated and informed by credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of Illinois Department of Public Health. My website will also be frequently updated with the latest information and resources.

On March 27th, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Apple Inc. released an app and website that guides Americans through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms. It also provides CDC recommendations on next steps including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider. Users can access the tool here.

The CDC has also posted the first of what will be a weekly surveillance report called “COVIDView.” The report, updated each Friday, will summarize and interpret key indicators and laboratory data. Individuals can access COVIDView here.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

A: At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the United States. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

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Prevention & Preparation

Q: How do I protect my community?

A: The CDC recommends staying home when possible, avoiding touching your face, covering your cough or sneezing, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should also follow the State of Illinois’ guidance to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, including the Governor’s Illinois Stay at Home Order.

Governor JB Pritzker has issued executive orders directing Illinois residents to stay at home, except for essential activities, essential government functions and to operate essential businesses and operations. Public and private gatherings of 10 or more people are generally not permitted through April 30th. By Executive Order, the Governor has also closed schools, bars and restaurants through March 30th. Restaurant kitchens can remain open and put in place drive-thru, curb side pickup and delivery options. More information about the Illinois Stay at Home order can be found here.

Q:How should my family prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak?

A: According to the CDC, they recommend you create a household plan of action.  Plan for ways to care for those who might be at greater risk, including making sure that they have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case they need to stay home for prolonged periods of time. 

Find out if your neighbourhood has a website or social media page to stay connected with your neighbours.  Create a list of organizations that you can contact in the event you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources. You should also create an emergency contact list of family, friends, neighbours, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

Q: Should I wear a mask?

A: On April 3rd, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance that recommends all Americans wear cloth face coverings in public settings as a precautionary measure, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from common household items as a voluntary public health measure. Wearing cloth face coverings is a public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning ,and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.

The CDC states that cloth face coverings should not be placed on babies, young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.  

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  There is currently a shortage of these medical masks nationwide and they should be  reserved for medical professionals, patients, and other essential workers in need of them the most.

Cloth face coverings should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.

The CDC has provided instructions on how to make a cloth face covering from various materials. The Sew and No Sew Instructions and instructions on how to wear a cloth face covering are available here.

Q:What cleaning products are effective against COVID-19?

A:  You are encouraged to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as remote controls and doorknobs.  Most common household cleaning and disinfection products will work.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency keeps a list of products that meet their criteria for use against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 here.

Q: Should I travel in the United States?

A:CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19 if there are other travellers with coronavirus infection. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel, which you can find here. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel available on the CDC website here.

Q: Should I cancel my international trip?

A: CDC recommends that travellers avoid all nonessential international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Some health care systems are overwhelmed and there may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas. Many countries are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and in-country travel may be unpredictable. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be disrupted, and you may have to remain outside the United States for an indefinite length of time.

If you must travel outside of the United States, there are steps to take to help reduce your chances of getting sick that the federal government has put together that you can find here.

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Vaccine & Treatments

Q: Is there a treatment?

A: There is no specific treatment or vaccine yet for COVID-19. If you have or think you have COVID-19, your symptoms are not severe, and you are not in a high-risk group—it is recommended to rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat nourishing food. Stay in touch with your doctor and take steps to help prevent the spread to others by avoiding public areas and using public transportation, ride sharing or taxis. You should set up a “sick” room at home to distance yourself from others and should try have as little contact with others as possible. The CDC has put out recommended precautions for non-healthcare settings that you should follow and can find here

If your symptoms get worse, seek prompt medical care, especially if you’re in a high-risk group (older adults, people with underlying medical conditions). Warning signs include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to get up, or bluish lips or face, according to the CDC.

Q: Is there a vaccine?

Not yet. But in mid-March, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced it was beginning the first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine. Other companies, using different approaches, are also trying to develop coronavirus vaccines. But it’s not certain they’ll work yet. Despite the rapid progress, even if the vaccine is proved safe and effective against the virus, it will not be available for at least a year.

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Economic Impact Payments & Tax Deadlines

Q: Coronavirus has been very disruptive to my family and to our household finances. Do I still have to file income taxes by April 15th?

A: No. Both the federal and the state filing deadlines for individuals and families have been extended to July 15, 2020.

Q. Will the IRS contact individuals to obtain bank account information, Social Security numbers, or other personally identifiable information in order to distribute stimulus payments?

A.No. Beware of anyone claiming to be calling, texting, or emailing from the IRS seeking your personally identifiable information. Most people won’t need to take any action to receive their economic impact stimulus payment. The IRS will automatically distribute economic impact stimulus payments to eligible individuals either electronically by direct deposit where possible or by mailing a check.

If you don’t file tax returns and receive Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will share your information with the IRS so eligible beneficiaries will receive their stimulus payments. For other eligible individuals who do not file tax returns, the IRS will initiate a public awareness campaign to provide information on how they can receive their stimulus payments.

For the latest information on stimulus payments go to the Internal Revenue Service’s webpage on Coronavirus, available here. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created a webpage on Coronavirus-related scams, including for fraudulent vaccines, test kits, charities, and social security benefits, which is accessible here. You can also contact the CFPB via telephone by calling (855) 411-2372.

Q. How can I check the status of my stimulus payment?

A. The Internal Revenue Service has created the Get My Payment webpage to give individuals and families information about payment status, payment type, and to check whether more information is needed, available here. In the Get My Payment portal you can submit direct deposit information to the IRS in order to speed up your payment by receiving it electronically instead of a paper check. 

Q. What if a company or individual claims they are able to increase your stimulus payment or shorten the amount of time until you receive it?

A. Beware of any companies or individuals seeking to charge you a fee in exchange for increasing or expediting your stimulus payments. The IRS will determine the amount of your payment based on your family size and income. The bill requires stimulus payments go out “as rapidly as possible,” including through direct deposit based on information the government has on file from previous tax returns. Paying a third party will not increase or speed up delivery of your stimulus payment. More information from the Internal Revenue Service on stimulus payments is available here.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also released information on how consumers can protect their finances during the Coronavirus Pandemic that you can find here.

Q. What if a company or individual claims to be affiliated with IRS or other governmental agencies seeking to help individuals receive their stimulus payments?

A. Be aware of scams, including anyone claiming to be affiliated with the IRS or displaying a seal or logo representing the U.S. government in correspondence, emails, or on the internet. Refer to the official government agency website for information. For the latest information on stimulus payments go to the Internal Revenue Service’s webpage on Coronavirus, available here.

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Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Q: How can I report a Coronavirus Scam?

A: The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), an agency within the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, has a dedicated hotline which will take your information and direct it to law enforcement. They can be reached at 1-866-720-5721 or by email at disaster@leo.gov.

Q: Is the government currently calling Medicare beneficiaries to offer them COVID-19 test kits?

A: No, scammers are offering fake COVID-19 test kits to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information.

Q: Are Coronavirus cures currently available for sale?

A: No, scammers are attempting to exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams, including selling fake cures online. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.

Q: Will any government agency call to ask for my personal information to send my stimulus check?

A: No, government agencies will never call to ask for your personal information or bank account details.

 

More helpful FAQ can be found on the CDC website here.

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