About Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a virus not previously seen in humans. COVID-19 is highly contagious. People with COVID-19 who don't have any symptoms can spread the virus to other people. Learn how to protect yourself and others, and what to do if you are sick.

Masks are now required to help prevent spread of COVID-19"I wear my mask to keep my family safe" young woman putting mask on older man

In Vermont you are required to wear a face mask or covering in public spaces any time it is not possible to keep 6-feet apart from others who are not part of your household. This includes both indoor and outdoor public spaces and group living settings (for example, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, apartment and condo complexes).

Face masks or coverings are not required when you are doing strenuous exercise or activities. They are also not required for - and should not be worn - by:

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance
  • Anyone who has a medical or behavioral reason for not wearing a face mask

If you have a medical or developmental condition or have difficulty breathing, you are not required to show evidence or documentation of your condition.

Businesses and other entities may also post signage explaining the mask requirements and can deny entry or service to people who are not wearing a mask. However, businesses must offer another way for people who are unable to wear a mask to access the business (for example, curbside pick-up or other creative solutions.

    Mask Resources

    Wearing a Mask

    Bring a mask with you when you leave home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 can spread before a person has any symptoms. A mask helps protect others around you if you are infected and don’t know it. You still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with, even when wearing a mask.

    Examples of when a face mask is required
    • Trips to any store, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital
    • At a gathering in the park with friends and family who do not live in your household
    • At any indoor or outdoor public event, such as a rally, protest, farmer’s market, or campaign event
    • Riding the bus, taxi, or ride share
    • Walking on a busy and crowded street
    • Before and after a yoga or exercise class
    Face Mask Resources
    Prevention

    There are things we can all do to protect ourselves and the people around us. Here some ways to avoid getting or spreading the disease:

    • Stay at home and away from others if you are sick. 
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • When you leave home or visit with people, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don't live with.
    • Wear a mask or face covering public when you cannot keep a 6-foot distance from other people, for example, at a grocery store, a friend's house, or on a crowded sidewalk.
    • Keep gatherings small and have them outside whenever possible.
    • Wherever you meet up with other people, get everyone on the same page with the ground rules (masks, distance, hygiene). If that's not possible, it may not be worth doing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands look dirty.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (like tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remote controllers, handles, desks, toilets, sinks) using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. See guidance for people traveling to Vermont, and read CDC's guidance on travel in the United States.

    People at high risk for more severe illness

    The risk for a more severe illness increases with age and is higher for people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions. People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility are also at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. If you are in one of these groups, take these extra precautions in addition to general prevention steps:

    • Stay close to home as much as possible. Traveling out of state is not recommended since the virus is still widespread in neighboring states and across the country.
    • Choose outdoor activities whenever possible and keep indoor contact brief.
    • Pay attention to the size of the space, crowding, the number of people there, and whether they are wearing face coverings and keeping a 6-foot distance. 
    • Select activities that don't require close contact. Minimize close contact while talking or doing anything that requires exertion like shouting or singing.
    • Keep your social circle small. Choose a few other trusted households that are also taking health and safety precautions.
    • Continue your medications and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your health care provider. 
    • Have at least a two-week supply of prescription and non-prescription medications. Consider having your medications delivered.
    • Talk to your health care provider about whether your vaccinations are up to date. 
    • Do not delay getting emergency care for any underlying medical condition because of COVID-19. 
    • Call your health care provider if you have concerns about underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19.

    Families  with Children

    • Encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.
    • It's important for parents (and children over two who are able) to wear a face mask when you're around people you do not live with. Learn more about face coverings for children.
    • Use technology to play games or keep in touch with friends and family who you are not meeting up with in person. 
    • Wash toys regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry the toys completely.
    • Keep activities as close to home as possible.
    • Choose outdoor activities and Be Tick Smart and prevent tick bites.
    • If you choose to socialize with family, friends and neighbors, keep groups small and choose other trusted households that are also taking health and safety precautions. A trusted household is one that follows these general precautions: wearing face masks, keeping a 6-foot distance from others, washing their hands often and staying home if they are sick.
    • Learn how to safely connect with friends and family

    See guidance about COVID-19 for pregnant and breastfeeding parents (CDC)
    Find resources for Families with Children

    families with pets

    We are still learning about the virus that causes COVID-19, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations. Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from possible infection. Because there is a small risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, CDC recommends that pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with people outside their household.

    • Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam free outside.
    • Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.
    • Avoid public places where a large number of people gather.
    • Do not put face coverings on pets. Covering a pet’s face could harm them.

    There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use.

    Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health. Read the COVID-19 FAQs for pet owners from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

    Resources

    Tips to Help Keep Illness from Spreading
    Arabic | Burmese | Chinese | English | French | Kirundi | Nepali | Somali | Spanish | Swahili | Vietnamese

    Safely Connect with Friends and Family
    Using Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
    Guidance for Large or Extended Families Living in the Same Household (CDC)
    Video that illustrates COVID-19 virus transmission and prevention with visuals, not words (from Stanford Medicine)

    Symptoms

    All Vermonters with even mild symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider to get tested. This includes parents of children who have symptoms that could be related to COVID-19. Your provider will refer you to a hospital or health center near you that can perform the test at no cost. If you don’t have a health care provider, call 2-1-1 to connect to care or contact the nearest federally qualified health center or one of Vermont's free & referral clinics.

    Symptoms include:
    phone icon, reads "Symptoms"

    Help us contain the spread of COVID-19 by signing up for symptom check reminders!

    • Fever (100.4 F or higher)
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle pain or aches
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    Symptoms may start 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. If you are having any symptoms of COVID-19, call your provider. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.

    Check your symptoms with CDC's Self Checker Tool. Not everyone infected with the COVID-19 virus has symptoms.

    People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions

    People at Increased Risk for Severe Illness

    People Who may be more vulnerable

    Our opportunities for better health begin in our families, neighborhoods, schools and jobs. Things like lack of access to medical care, healthy food or quality housing, are inequities that can make people more vulnerable for getting COVID-19 or having a more severe illness. 

    People Who Need Extra Precautions

    Supporting people who may be more vuluneralbe

    If you are diagnosed with COVID-19

    Most people with mild illness can recover at home. While there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, you should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take fever-reducing medication if needed.

    If you or a family member are sick, follow these steps to care for your self and to help protect other people in your home and your community:

    Isolate at home

    • Stay home, except to get medical care. Call ahead before visiting your health care provider. Anyone who does not have a health care provider can call 2-1-1 to be connected to care or contact the nearest federally qualified health center or one of Vermont's free & referral clinics.
    • Separate yourself from other people and pets. 
    • Monitor your symptoms. 
    • Wear a cloth face mask or covering when you're around people and pets.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water aren't available. 
    • Avoid sharing personal household items.
    • Clean all high-touch surfaces in your home daily. 
    • Get support from others. Stay in touch with family and friends by phone, email or online platform.

    We strongly encourage you to enroll in Sara Alert, a secure monitoring and reporting text-based system to help you monitor symptoms.

    CONTACT TRACING

    If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the Health Department will contact you to ask for your help with contact tracing. Contact tracing is used to provide education, support and guidance to people who are diagnosed with an infectious disease. It’s also used to identify people who have been in close contact with them, so they can take steps to stop the disease from spreading to others. Learn how contact tracing for COVID-19 works in Vermont.

    Resources

    Caring for Yourself at Home (CDC)
    10 Ways to Manage Respiratory Symptoms at Home  (CDC)
    Information on Breastfeeding if you Have COVID-19 (CDC)
    What is isolation, quarantine and self-observation

    How to Self-isolate for COVID-19
    Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Somali | Spanish | Vietnamese

    What to do if you are diagnosed with COVID-19
    Arabic | Burmese | Chinese | English | French | Kirundi | Nepali | Somali | Spanish | Swahili | Vietnamese

    Caring for someone with COVID-19

    Most people with mild illness can recover at home. While there is no specific treatment, someone sick with COVID-19 should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take fever-reducing medication if needed.

    Resources

    Caring for Someone at Home (link is external) (CDC)
    Caring for Yourself at Home (link is external)(CDC)
    Guidance for Large or Extended Families Living in the Same Household (CDC)
    What is isolation, quarantine and self-observation

    Close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19

    COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person. If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 you will need to take steps to prevent possible spread in case you also have COVID-19.

    Close contact means being within six feet for 15 minutes or more, of someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their infectious period. The infectious period starts two days before any symptoms began, or for people who didn't have symptoms, two days before they got tested, and continues until they are recovered. Close contact does not mean: being more than six feet away in the same indoor environment for a short period of time, walking by, or briefly being in the same room.

    Here are some examples:

    Examples of close contacts     Examples of not close contacts
    You live in the same home     You were their cashier at the grocery store
    You are intimate partners You are a pharmacist who gave the person medication
    You rode in the same car while the person was infectious You were in front of the person in line at the store
    You had dinner together while the person was infectious  You’re a coworker who briefly walked by to ask a question

    What to do if you are a close contact of someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19
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    If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Health Department works them to identify their close contacts. Timeframe, nature of contact and other factors can influence who is determined a close contact. This is called contact tracing. The contact tracers call each close contact to offer health guidance and recommendations for self-isolation or other restrictions. Learn how contact tracing for COVID-19 works in Vermont.

    Contact Tracing

    Contact tracing is used to provide education, support and guidance to people who are diagnosed with an infectious disease. It’s also used to identify people who have been in close contact with them, so they can take steps to stop the disease from spreading to others. Here's how contact tracing for COVID-19 works in Vermont.

    If you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a call from the Health Department. A trained public health worker, called a contact tracer, will give you guidance to stay home and away from other people until you recover. This stops the virus from spreading to other people. They will answer any questions you may have and see if you need help getting resources to stay home.

    They will ask you questions about your symptoms, activities, and who you may have come into contact with during a specific period of time. This information is only used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Based on your answers, the contact tracer will help you identify any close contacts. Generally, these are people you were within 6 feet of, for at least 15 minutes, during the time you were infectious (contagious). Those people may have been exposed to the virus, which means they have a greater chance of getting it themselves, and then of spreading it to others.

    Here are some examples:

    Examples of close contacts     Examples of not close contacts
    You live in the same home     You were their cashier at the grocery store
    You are intimate partners You are a pharmacist who gave the person medication
    You rode in the same car while the person was infectious You were in front of the person in line at the store
    You had dinner together while the person was infectious  You’re a coworker who briefly walked by to ask a question

    If you are identified as a close contact, a contact tracer will call you and tell you the date when you may have been exposed. They will give you guidance to stay home and away from others for a certain amount of time. They will ask you to watch for symptoms and ask if you need any help while staying home.

    It can be stressful and overwhelming to learn you may have been exposed to COVID-19, but you can make sure your questions are answered and follow the health guidance to help prevent the virus from spreading. Here are more details on what to do if you’re a close contact.

    If you think that you might be a close contact but didn't get a call from the Health Department, you may take precautions by quarantining for 14 days since the last day you were in contact with that person, and get tested on day 7 or after if you have not had any symptoms.

    It’s important to answer any call from the Health Department and to answer questions as completely as possible to make sure everyone knows whatA contact tracer calling a person exposed to COVID-19 steps to take to prevent further spread of the virus.

    The Health Department only uses a live person for contact tracing and never uses anything that sounds like a “robo” (computer-generated voice) call for this service.

    If you have tested positive or are a close contact, contact tracers will ask if you want to enroll in our Sara Alert program during the phone call. Sara Alert is a free and secure system that sends daily reminders to check for common symptoms of COVID-19 by email, text or automated or live person phone call. Depending on the symptoms you report, the Health Department may reach out to you to give guidance and next steps. Sara Alert is a symptom monitoring tool. It is not GPS-based, so it does not monitor your movements.

    Using Key Dates to Determine Isolation and Quarantine Timeline

    Contact tracers use key dates to determine the amount of time you need to stay home. It can sound complicated and everyone’s situation is different. Your contact tracer will walk you through it.

    For people who test positive:

    • Symptom onset date – the first day you noticed symptoms. This is the date contact tracers will use to determine your timeline. (If you didn’t have symptoms, contact tracers will use the date you got tested.)
    • Date of exposure – the date you were exposed to COVID-19. Contact tracers may not be able to know the exact date you were exposed, but they will narrow down the time period.
    • Incubation period – the amount of time it takes after being exposed, to when you first notice symptoms. If you didn’t get symptoms, the incubation is the period of time between exposure and when you test positive for COVID-19. The incubation period can range from 2-14 days after being exposed. Contact tracers will ask about your activities in the last 14 days to get an idea of where and when you may have been exposed.
    • Infectious period – the period of time where you have a high chance of spreading the virus to others. The infectious period starts two days before you get symptoms (or if you don’t have symptoms, the two days before you got tested) and continues until you have recovered. People you had close interactions with during this time are at risk and may be considered ‘close contacts.’
    • Isolation – the period of time where you will stay home and away from other people until you recover. Isolation starts as soon as you notice symptoms (or if you didn’t have symptoms, it starts as soon as you get a positive test result).
    • End isolation – you can end home isolation when you have recovered. Generally, this means at least 10 days have passed since first noticed symptoms, symptoms have improved, and you are fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication. If you didn’t have symptoms, generally, you can end isolation 10 days after you were tested.

    For close contacts:

    • Date of exposure – the date you were exposed to COVID-19. This is when you were last in contact with someone who tested positive while they were infectious.
    • Quarantine – this means staying home and away from others for 14 days to stop the virus from spreading to other people. Day 0 is the last day you were in close contact with the person who tested positive.
    • End quarantine – close contacts can end quarantine after 14 days if they didn’t get sick. See scenarios from the CDC to determine when you can end quarantine and be around others. In Vermont, you may get tested during your quarantine period if you never had any symptoms. Call your provider to arrange for testing on or after day 7. Stay in quarantine until you get your results. If the results are negative, and you still don’t have any symptoms, you can end your quarantine.

    Want to learn more about contact tracing?

    Contact tracing is a proven public health tool that has been used for decades to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases.

    Recovery

    Someone has recovered from COVID-19 when all three of these have happened:

    1. It has been at least 24 hours of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication, and
    2. Other symptoms have improved, and
    3. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.   

    We don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 can be infected again because the immune response is not yet understood. We know that people with another type of coronavirus, MERS-CoV, are not likely to be re-infected shortly after they recover. But we don’t know yet if this is true for COVID-19.

    People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their blood plasma. This is the body’s immune response to the virus. Plasma may be helpful to people sick with COVID-19. But currently, plasma donations are only being done experimentally. In the future, plasma could be used to treat serious cases of COVID-19.

    The Red Cross is looking for people who are fully recovered from COVID-19 and may be able to donate plasma. If you are fully recovered from a COVID-19 diagnosis that was confirmed by a lab test and would like to donate your plasma, fill out the form on the Red Cross website.

    Background on COVID-19

    Coronaviruses are a type of virus that are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are many kinds of coronaviruses including some that cause respiratory illnesses, like the common cold.

    Sometimes, coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick – and become a new human coronavirus. An example is the newly discovered coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

    The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Another person can become infected if the droplets land in their mouth or nose and possibly if the droplets are inhaled into the lungs. The virus might also spread to a person’s hands from a contaminated surface and then to their nose, mouth, or possibly their eyes. Not everyone infected with the virus has symptoms.

    There is growing scientific evidence that smaller particles of the COVID-19 virus in the air indoors can infect people. These lighter, finer droplets — that we all exhale from coughing or talking — may stay in the air for several hours, especially when there’s poor ventilation or overcrowding. You could become infected if you have indoor contact with those aerosols for an extended period of time.

    COVID-19 is spreading easily and sustainably in our communities. This community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The risk of getting a more severe illness increases with age and underlying medical conditions.