Louisville Metro COVID-19 Response: Facts, Symptoms and Prevention
What is COVID-19?
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person that has not been previously identified. It is currently in the United States and most other countries in the world. Health experts are concerned because this new virus spreads easily and has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people — especially people over age 60 or who have weakened immune systems.
How is COVID-19 Spread?
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. It can be spread:
• Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet);
• Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, laughs, sings, coughs, or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and be inhaled into the lungs;
• By people who are not showing symptoms.
See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), How COVID-19 Spreads.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms include:
• Fever or chills
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• New loss of taste or smell
• Congestion or runny nose
• Sore throat
• Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about
COVID-19. See CDC, Symptoms of Coronavirus.
More information and detailed guidance
What are the best ways to prevent being infected with COVID-19?
The best ways to prevent COVID-19 are:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others;
• Avoid gatherings of multiple people who do not live with you;
• Wash your hands often;
• Maintain distancing of at least 6 feet from others when in public;
• Clean AND disinfect, including disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily; and
• Monitor your health daily
See CDC, How to Protect Yourself & Others.
When should I stay at home?
First and foremost, anyone who has had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or who has symptoms of COVID-19, should self-quarantine or self-isolate. See Quarantine & Isolation, below, for more information.
Second, remember that the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction is, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or longer. Remember to avoid the three C’s: Closed Spaces, Crowded Places, and Close Contact Situations.
See CDC, Deciding to Go Out.
When should I avoid close contact?
You should always avoid close contact with those outside of your household. Put at least six feet of distance (two arms’ length) between you and anyone outside your household. Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces, as it may be harder to keep your distance from other people and there is less ventilation indoors. Even when wearing a mask, you should minimize the amount of contact you have with others who do not live with you.
If you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, is showing symptoms, or has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, try to have that individual stay in one room by themselves and use a separate bathroom.
How often should I wash my hands?
Wash your hands:
• Before eating or preparing food
• After using the restroom
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After changing a diaper
• After touching animals or pets
• Before touching your face
• After leaving a public place
• After handling your mask
• After caring for someone sick
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
When should I wear a mask or face covering?
You should wear a mask or face covering that covers your mouth and nose any time you are around people from outside your household. See Masks, below, for more information.
How often should I clean and disinfect surfaces?
• Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
• More frequent cleaning is required for businesses and public facilities, depending on level of use. Have a cleaning & disinfection plan, and practice routine cleaning and disinfecting, following CDC Guidance.
• If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
• Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
How should I monitor my health?
Monitor Your Health Daily
• Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
• It is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet. If you are sick, please stay home.
• Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
• Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising as the activity may increase your temperature, or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
• Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. See Quarantine & Isolation, below, for more information.
What should I do if I see businesses not complying with COVID-19 requirements? Noncompliance with business requirements can be reported by calling 311, or online at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro311.
Do masks work to slow the spread of COVID-19?
Yes. Wearing masks and other face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who do not know they are infected, from spreading the virus to others. Evidence for effectiveness of masks can be found here.
See CDC, About Masks.
Am I Required to Wear a Mask?
Yes. Governor Andy Beshear has mandated the use of face coverings. This applies to anyone in a public space where it is difficult to maintain safe distancing of at least 6 feet from all individuals who are not members of that person’s household. Everyone is required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth. This includes but is not
limited to indoor spaces such as retail establishments, as well as public transit, and any outdoor space where it is difficult to maintain safe distancing.
How do I wear a mask correctly?
Masks should be worn so that they cover your entire mouth and nose.
• Wash your hands before putting on your mask
• Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
• Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face
• Make sure you can breathe easily See, CDC, How to Wear Masks.
How do I take care of my mask?
• Masks should be washed regularly or disposed of if they become visibly dirty.
• If you are reusing a mask, make sure to fold it so that the part that touches your face is protected, and place it in a brown paper bag.
See CDC, How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask.
How should I select a mask?
• Have two or more layers of fabric,
• Completely cover your nose and mouth, and
• Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have any gaps.
How can I report businesses not requiring employees to wear masks?
Noncompliance with business requirements can be reported by calling 311, or online at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro311.
When should I get tested?
You should get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 even if you are not aware of previous exposure to someone with the virus, or if you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
• Anyone who has symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, sore throat, congestion or runny nose. Contact your healthcare provider about scheduling a test.
• Certain people who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) including:
• Asymptomatic individuals with recent known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2
• Asymptomatic individuals in special settings without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 for early identification
• Individuals who tested positive before but are asymptomatic now (to determine if their infection is gone)
• Individuals being tested for purposes of public health surveillance for SARS-CoV-2
Information on where and how you can get tested is available at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/louisville-covid-19… or kycovid19.ky.gov.
What kind of tests are there? What kind of test should I get?
There are two commonly available types of tests for COVID-19, viral tests and antibody tests. Viral tests (also known as diagnostic, molecular or antigen tests) tell you if you have a current infection. Antibody tests (also known as serology tests) might tell you if you had a past infection. Viral tests are more useful for determining whether you are currently infected with COVID-19.
See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html for more information on the differences. For information on which tests have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration see https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/coronavirus-testing-basi….
What should I do if I’ve tested positive?
If you test positive for COVID-19 you should self-isolate and monitor yourself for symptoms. If symptoms develop, call your healthcare provider. Stay away from others for at least 10 days after a positive test. This means you should stay in your home, and away from others who live with you. If you have had symptoms, you should isolate until you’ve had 1 day (24 hours) with no fever AND improvement of other symptoms AND at least 10 days since symptoms started. See Caring for yourself at home.
What should I do while waiting for test results?
If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 you should quarantine (stay at home) for 14 days from your last contact. If you are not aware of having close contact with someone who has COVID-19, and don’t have any symptoms, but were tested for precautionary purposes, you should reduce your movements outside your home as much as possible while awaiting results, in case you do get a positive result. While waiting for your test results, call the LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline at 502.912.8598.
What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, but I test negative?
If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 you should quarantine (stay at home) for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person. A negative test does not guarantee that you may not develop symptoms or become positive sometime later during that 14-day period.
Having a negative test does not allow one to stop quarantining or isolating. One must finish the entire isolation or quarantine period. You may also call the LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline at 502.912.8598.
Where can I get tested?
For additional information on testing locations please visit our Testing page.
What is a “close contact?”
Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes cumulatively starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for a case who does not have symptoms, 2 days prior to getting their test) until the time the patient is isolated. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-t…. html#contact for more information.
What should I do if I believe I’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 you should quarantine (stay at home) for 14 days from the last time you had contact with that person. Contact your healthcare provider if you begin to develop symptoms. You may also consider getting a test at one of the locations listed at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/ louisville-covid-19-response-testing or kycovid19.ky.gov. However, even a negative test does not guarantee that you may not develop symptoms or become positive sometime later during that 14-day period.
What is Quarantine?
Quarantine (not yet symptomatic) is the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a contagious disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been exposed to prevent the possible spread of the disease. Quarantine if you have been exposed and might become sick.
Quarantine means staying home and monitoring your health. Do not leave your home except to seek emergency medical care. This includes not going to essential businesses, or any other place where you may have any contact with others.
What is Isolation?
Isolation (symptomatic or lab positive) is the separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a contagious disease and potentially infectious, from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the disease. Isolate if you are sick.
Isolation means to stay home except for seeking medical care if symptoms worsen, and to avoid contact with others,
including those in your own household. Sleep in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible. If not possible, wear a cloth face mask any time you will be within 6 feet of others, including in your home, and frequently disinfect any shared surfaces immediately after use.
See CDC, Isolate If You Are Sick.
How long should I quarantine?
If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 you should self-quarantine for 14 full days from your last contact. See CDC, When to Quarantine for more information, including various scenarios and how long to quarantine in each.
How long should I isolate?
You can be with others after:
• 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
• 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
• Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
Can I stop quarantining if I test negative for COVID-19 after being exposed?
No. Just because you have tested negative before the end of quarantine does not mean that you may not develop symptoms or become positive later in your quarantine. It is important that you quarantine for a full 14 days after having been exposed or potentially exposed.
Can I stop self-isolating if I test negative for COVID-19 after testing positive or having symptoms?
No. You can be around others only after meeting the requirements above.
Do I need to have a negative test before ending quarantine or isolation?
No. If you meet the other requirements for ending your quarantine or isolation you do not need to be tested again or receive a negative test before ending your quarantine or isolation. Some people may continue to test positive after their period of contagiousness.
Do I need to quarantine or isolate if I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered?
Yes, if you have symptoms again or it has been more than three months since you were initially infected.
At this time, we do not know if someone can be re-infected with COVID-19. Data to date shows that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of the virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if the person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within 3 months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19.
There are no confirmed reports to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within 3 months of initial infection.
However, additional research is ongoing.
CDC recommends that all people, whether they have had COVID-19, or not, take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Wash hands regularly, stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible, and wear masks.
May I return to work after returning from traveling within Kentucky?
Yes, currently there are no restrictions or advisories regarding travel within the state. As with any situation where you are exposed to new people, places, or situations, anyone traveling should follow all Healthy-at-Work requirements at a minimum and use extra caution and be alert for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
May I return to work after returning from traveling out of state?
It depends. On July 20, 2020 the Kentucky Department for Public Health issued a travel advisory with the recommendation of a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers who went to any of the states reporting positive testing rate equal to or greater than 15 percent-of COVID-19 testing. A list of current states meeting this threshold can be found at https://kycovid19.ky.gov/.
Kentucky Public Health has advised avoiding these areas if possible. Anyone returning from one of these areas should self-quarantine for 14-days before contact with others, including in-person work. Employers should allow employees returning from travel to one of these areas to work from home or take leave to stay home.
There are currently no advisories regarding other areas within the United States, but all people returning from out-of-state should follow all Healthy-at-Work requirements at a minimum, and use extra caution and be alert for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or monitor any changes in situations from areas previously traveled.
See Team Kentucky, https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19 & Kentucky Department for Public Health Issues Advisory for
Recent Travelers to States, One U.S. Territory Reporting High Rates of COVID-19, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, WHICH U.S. STATES MEET WHO RECOMMENDED TESTING CRITERIA?
May I return to work after returning from traveling out of the country?
International travel is highly discouraged at this time, and U.S. travelers may face quarantine orders or be completely prohibited from certain destinations. For those who must travel internationally, see U.S. Department of State, COVID-19 Traveler Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19….
See also the list of country-specific Travel Advisories at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ traveladvisories.html/.