Coronavirus Q&A

Click on each question to learn more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported — ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Please seek medical attention. Call your healthcare provider first to alert them of your recent travel history and/or symptoms. If you are a patient coming to Stony Brook University Hospital or any other healthcare facility or clinic, and have any of these symptoms, please tell the staff immediately.
Coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, including close contact between people (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or by touching objects that have the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

It may be possible that a person can get the coronavirus 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for exposure, including healthcare personnel, and those who may be more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, such as older adults and people with certain medical conditions. People with underlying medical conditions may get a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of the ingredients in a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has made recommendations on who should get vaccinated first.

To prevent the spread of this and any other infection, it is important to follow healthy habits, which include:

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners with at least 60 percent alcohol are also effective if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to go to a healthcare provider's office.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Drink plenty of clear fluids (such as water, sports drinks and electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from becoming dehydrated.
  • Frequently clean your living quarters.
  • Get a flu vaccine. Learn more about vaccination options in your area.

The CDC recommends the use of simple cloth face coverings (covering the mouth and nose) to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This will also help those who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. These face coverings can be created from household items or common low-cost materials.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those items are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Visit the CDC for more information.

Additionally, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued an Executive Order, effective April 17, requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation.

While there is still much to be learned about the coronavirus, there is a fair amount of misinformation circulating about the virus. The World Health Organization has dispelled several myths related to the virus by answering questions that include:

  • Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?
  • Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?
  • Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus?
  • Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?
  • Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Read the full list and learn more.