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 do not wear a mask.

    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

    Here is how you can protect yourself from COVID-19, and avoid spreading the disease to others:

    • Stay at home and away from others if you are sick. 
    • Keep gatherings small and have them outside whenever possible.
    • When you leave home, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don't live with.
    • Wear a mask or covering in public when you cannot keep a 6-foot distance from other people, for example, at a grocery store or on a crowded sidewalk or bike path. Masks may be required in some places like on public transportation.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • 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 a 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 freely 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.

    Resources

    Tips to Help Keep Illness from Spreading
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    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"

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    • 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 a strategy used to determine the source of an infection and how it is spreading. Finding people who are close contacts to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore at higher risk of becoming infected themselves, can help prevent further spread of the virus. You'll be asked questions about your activities – within a certain timeframe – to help identify anyone you had close contact with. (Close contact means being closer than six feet apart for 15 minutes or more while you were infectious.) Those contacts might include family members, co-workers or health care providers. The team then gets in touch with those contacts and provides health guidance. A close contact is asked to stay home for 14 days and watch for symptoms.

    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.

    We are using Sara Alert, a secure monitoring and reporting system for public health that is being used in other states. Sara Alert allows us to offer enrollment in a text-based system to help us keep in touch and monitor symptoms, for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, their close contacts, as well as travelers to Vermont.

    A close contact under quarantine who has had no symptoms during the first 7 days of quarantine can be tested at their primary care provider's office, a pop-up testing site, or at a local pharmacy or Walmart location that may be offering a PCR type of COVID-19 test.

    If you think 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 seek testing on day 7 or after, if you have not had any symptoms.  

    As the state reopens, Vermonters should consider keeping a contact journal – a list of other people who you have been in close contact with each day. If you do get sick, this would make it easier to get in touch with those people and so they can take proper precautions to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

    The chart describing What is isolation, quarantine and self-observation has details about what you should do and not do, depending on your exposure risk.

    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.