As more information about the coronavirus pandemic develops, some of the information on this page may have changed since it was last updated. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the online resources provided by the CDC, and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. You can work to better protect yourself from COVID-19 by:
- washing your hands,
- avoiding contact with sick individuals, and
- sanitizing your home.
ServiceMaster by Wright helps to address the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. These frequently asked questions are for the general public. Other audiences may want to refer to more detailed information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) page by CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/
Q: What are coronaviruses?
A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illnesses, such as the common cold.
Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.
Q: What is the COVID-19 virus?
A: COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has since spread more widely in China. Cases have since been identified in several other countries. The COVID-19 virus is closely related to a bat coronavirus.
There is much more to learn about how COVID-19 is spread, its severity, and other features associated with the virus; epidemiological and clinical investigations are ongoing.
Outbreaks of new coronavirus infections among people are always a public health concern. The situation is evolving rapidly.
Q: How is the virus spread?
A: Human coronaviruses are spread from someone infected with COVID-19 virus to other close contacts with that person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.
The time between when a person is exposed to the virus and when symptoms first appear is typically 5 to 6 days, although it may range from 2 to 14 days. For this reason, people who might have been in contact with a confirmed case are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Most COVID-19 cases appear to be spread from people who have symptoms. A small number of people may have been infectious before their symptoms developed.
Q: How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?
A: According to the World Health Organization, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: Patients may have fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.
Q: What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
A: The first symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza (flu) infections are often very similar. They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.
Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene (handwashing), good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow or into a tissue and immediately disposing of the tissue) and good household cleaning are important actions to prevent both infections.
The speed of transmission is an important difference between the two viruses. Influenza typically has a shorter incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) than COVID-19. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID-19.
While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the fraction with severe disease appears to be higher for COVID-19. While most people have mild symptoms, approximately 15% of people have severe infections and 5% require intensive care in a hospital ICU. The proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections are higher than for influenza infections.
Q: I have traveled to another country. What should I do?
A: If you have been overseas in the last 14 days, you should:
- isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you returned or arrived from overseas, and
- monitor yourself for symptoms.
If you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms within the 14-day period, please:
- call your doctor. When you call, tell them where you have traveled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case, or if your symptoms are severe.
- visit your local Emergency Department. When you arrive, immediately tell the staff where you have traveled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case. If you need to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask if available when attending. If you have symptoms, it is important that you do not use public transport, taxis, or ride-sharing services.
Q: How long does the COVID-19 infection last?
A: The infection period for the virus will vary from person to person. Mild symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual may resolve over just a few days. Similar to influenza, for an individual with other ongoing health issues, such as a respiratory condition, recovery may take weeks and in severe cases could be potentially fatal.
Q: How is COVID-19 diagnosed?
A: Infection with COVID-19 is diagnosed by finding evidence of the virus in respiratory samples such as swabs from the back of the nose and throat or fluid from the lungs.
Q: What does a negative COVID-19 test result mean?
A: The nose/throat swab for COVID-19 looks for the virus present in your nose and throat.
If you are in home isolation because you have returned from overseas or have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, a negative test result does not mean you can end your home isolation. You need to remain in home isolation for a total of 14 days after you returned from abroad or had close contact with a COVID-19 case.
Q: How is it prevented?
A: Some simple measures significantly reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and of spreading it:
- Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, and stay home if you have these symptoms.
- Avoid touching your face and avoid shaking hands with others.
- Try to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from others as much as possible, and avoid crowded places.
Q: Is there a cure or a vaccine?
A: There are no vaccines that protect against COVID-19. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Early diagnosis and general supportive care are important. Most of the time, symptoms will resolve on their own. People who have the serious disease with complications can be cared for in hospital.
Q: What is the public health response to COVID-19?
A: Infection with COVID-19 is a notifiable condition, Public health unit staff will investigate all cases to find out how the infection occurred, identify other people at risk of infection, implement control measures, and provide other advice.
Protecting against COVID-19
Q: How can I protect myself / my family?
A: The best way to protect yourself is to do the same as you would against any respiratory infection. Practice good hygiene by:
- making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow.
- avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms. Make sure you stay home if you are sick.
Q: What can I wash my hands with if I don’t have a handwash?
A: The key to handwashing is to wash often and wash well for at least 20 seconds. All you need is water and detergent (surfactant) such as:
- a bar of soap
- body wash
It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand, and it doesn’t have to be marked “antibacterial”.
If you’re using a hand sanitizer, it should contain 70% alcohol or more. Keep your nails short and clean, wash your tea towels often, and consider avoiding wearing rings.
Q: Do face masks protect against COVID-19? Which face masks?
A: Face masks are not recommended for the general population. People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else.
Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected COVID-19 should use appropriate personal protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19.
Q: Do hand dryers prevent COVID-19?
A: Hand dryers are not effective in killing or preventing COVID-19 on their own, and they may increase the risk of spread of COVID-19 if used on hands that have not been cleaned properly.
To protect yourself against COVID-19, you should clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer. If you have washed your hands, dry them thoroughly by using paper towels. If there are no paper towels available, use a hot air dryer or let your hands air dry. Your hands must be dried completely.
If you are using hand towels to dry your hands, such as in the bathroom at home, it’s important to wash them regularly. If someone in your home is unwell, they should use their own hand towel.
Q: Is it safe to use public drinking fountains or water bubblers?
A: Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink; however, the surfaces around the fountain including the spout and button/lever could pose a transmission risk for COVID-19 and other germs. At this stage, it is not certain how long viruses that cause COVID-19 survive on surfaces.
Q: How are hospital equipment and furniture being cleaned to protect against COVID-19?
A: Hospitals ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each suspected case, as are ambulances. There is infection prevention and control practice protocols that outline the appropriate steps for cleaning a room to ensure there are no viruses remaining. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection.
Q: How do we know the people who have had COVID-19 are no longer infectious?
A: People with confirmed COVID-19 infection stay in isolation under the care of medical specialists until they are no longer experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Before they are released from isolation, they have tests to see if they still have COVID-19 and the specialist care team assesses they are no longer infectious. Once they are discharged, they have a follow-up assessment by the medical team to make sure they remain well.
Q: Do I need to be separate from other people in my home if I am isolating?
A: Yes. If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room another person, and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
Make sure that you do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe diseases, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.
Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are isolating.
Q: Who should practice social distancing?
A: Everyone should practice social distancing, as it reduces the potential for transmission.
Pets and animals
Q: Can pets be infected with COVID-19?
A: While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets might be a source of infection with this new virus.
There is also no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.
A: If you believe your facility in Southwest Florida may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, call ServiceMaster by Wright immediately. There is evidence for other coronaviruses of the potential for widespread contamination of patient rooms or environments, so effective cleaning and decontamination are vital, and only the certified professionals can do that.
In addition to the direct cleaning and disinfection protocols, we utilize engineering controls and follow the CDC guidance on the proper use of air chambers and air scrubbing during the process.
ServiceMaster by Wright ensures that product specifications are followed, thereby providing the most effective decontamination possible. Call us today at 239-431-9947. ServiceMaster by Wright services Bonita Springs, Bradenton, Cape Coral, Englewood, Fort Myers, Longboat Key, Naples, Marco Island, Sarasota, Siesta Key, and Venice. If you are in Collier, Lee, Manatee or Sarasota Counties, we have you covered!