FAQs: For The Public

This post has been archived and contains information that may be out of date.

How long does it take for COVID-19 symptoms to appear after exposure to the virus, and what symptoms should I look for?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms, broadening the range from mild to severe illness. In recent guidance, the California Department of Public Health identifies the symptoms in two categories: 1) symptoms — such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell, and 2) emergency warning signs — such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or bluish lips or face ­— that require medical attention immediately. (5/13)

I am interested in contributing my time and expertise within my hospital community. What volunteer opportunities are available?

Many California hospitals have suspended their volunteer programs. Until hospitals begin accepting new volunteers, here are some ways you can make a difference:

  • Sign up with California Volunteers: Governor Gavin Newsom launched the #CaliforniansForAll program to encourage Californians to help their communities during the pandemic.
  • Donate blood: Healthy individuals are encouraged to contact the American Red Cross to schedule an appointment.
  • Deliver meals: Meals on Wheels organizations throughout your community are seeking individuals to deliver food to vulnerable seniors.  
  • Donate to and/or volunteer at your local food bank (5/1)

I’m sick and think I might have coronavirus. What should I do?

Stay home, as most people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 can recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency. If you need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19.  As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands often. And clean high-touch surfaces frequently. Follow care instructions from your health care provider. More information from the CDC. (7/20)

If I have symptoms of COVID-19, should I get tested?

The California Department of Public Health recommends first prioritizing testing of hospitalized individuals with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infection followed by testing of other symptomatic individuals and higher risk asymptomatic individuals and then other asymptomatic individuals when certain conditions exist. (7/20)

I don’t have coronavirus, but I have another health care need. Who should I call?

If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center. If you need to go to the hospital, call ahead so they can prepare for your arrival. If you need to call 911, tell the 911 operator the exact symptoms you are experiencing so the ambulance provider can prepare to treat you safely.

Hospitals have implemented a variety of new safety measures to keep non-COVID and COVID patients from coming into contact. If you’re in need of care, especially for pre-existing or chronic conditions that need follow-up attention, please don’t hesitate to seek it in the appropriate care setting. Delaying care could put you at a higher risk for complications later on.

If possible, health care visits should be done remotely. Contact your health care provider to see what services they are providing through telehealth. More information on the Director of the California Department of Public Health’s stay home order.  (5/12)

What resources are available for family caregivers? 

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has posted to its website a number of resources for family caregivers, including items dealing with COVID-19. AARP is also conducting weekly town hall on this topic.   

The Family Caregiver Alliance has posted several articles and resources to its website, including monthly livestream educational topics that have tips for caregivers about COVID-19, as well as podcasts and multilingual short video caregiving tips and infographics on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. (4/9)

What if I can’t work because I’m ill with COVID-19 or caring for a family member?

In California, if you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance claim. If you’re caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) you can file a Paid Family Leave claim.

To learn more about what to do if you think you’re sick, tips for staying healthy and protecting your family, details on health insurance coverage of different types, and more, here are the COVID-19 websites for these entities:  (4/9)