Frequently Asked Questions

All public health professionals who conduct contact tracing are highly trained in confidentiality. When they talk to people who have been in contact with a patient, they do not share any information about that person under any circumstance.

The Department’s COVID-19 contact tracing fact sheet is a great source of information about how contact tracing works. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides in depth information about the principles and importance of contact tracing.

For contact tracing to be most effective, it should be carried out as soon after diagnosis as possible. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will likely be contacted quickly by a public health professional to initiate contact tracing. It is important to remember, though, that not being contacted for contact tracing does not mean you did not test positive or that you cannot transmit COVID-19. Proper precautions, such as social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing a mask, should still be taken.

Many communicable diseases, including COVID-19, can be spread by people who do not appear to be sick. Since these people feel well, they are unlikely to get tested and may not know they are carrying a virus. Contact tracing can help public health officials learn who these asymptomatic carriers are so they can be informed about appropriate prevention measures, to include testing and self-isolation. This helps keep disease at bay.

When a person tests positive for a disease or condition, a public health case investigator will work with the patient to create a list of people they’ve been in contact with during a given time frame. The contact tracing expert then contacts each of those people so that they can take appropriate precautions (getting tested, self-isolation, monitor for symptoms, etc.) and, in turn, create a list of people they’ve been in contact with as necessary. By using this strategy, public health professionals can get ahead of infectious diseases and prevent further spread.

Contact tracing is done by specially trained public health professionals. In general, these trained staff study patterns and causes of diseases in humans. Public health professionals tasked with contact tracing are experts in protecting client confidentiality, counseling, cultural competency, and more.

Contact tracing is a disease control measure. Public health professionals work with patients to develop a list of everyone they have been in close contact with during a certain period. The staff will then contact those people to let them know about their possible exposure so that they can take proper precautions.

Pursuant to Executive Order 20-123, effective May 18, gyms and fitness centers that were previously closed by Executive Order can reopen, in all Florida counties They must limit capacity to no more than 50 percent of building occupancy and must maintain appropriate social distancing and sanitizing protocols.

In-store retail sales establishments may open storefronts if they operate at no more than 50 percent building occupancy. Museums and libraries may open at no more than 50 percent of their building occupancy. Note that local public museums and local public libraries may only operate if permitted by local government.

Pursuant to Executive Order 20-123 effective May 18, counties may seek approval to operate vacation rentals with a written request from the County Administrator and the county’s safety plan for vacation rental operations submitted to the DBPR Secretary. DBPR will post and update guidance on its website. Contact your County Administrator for the status of your county.

For more information on vacation rentals, please visit: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/vacation-rental-status/

Holders of state-issued barber or cosmetology licenses may provide services at establishments that adopt appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures, as directed in Executive Order 20-120, except holders of a barbering or cosmetology license located in Broward or Miami-Dade are not authorized to provide services until May 18th (EO 20-122).

Barbershops and salons must manage capacity of the premises based on an appointment-only schedule and must allow at least 15 minutes between the conclusion of an appointment and the beginning of the next appointment for proper disinfecting practices. A mask must be worn by an employee while providing personal services in the barbershop or salon.

Effective Monday, May 4, DEP has implemented phase one to reopen the Florida State Parks. As these parks are re-opening, DEP will be taking measures to ensure the protection of staff and the public. During this early phase of re-opening, visitors should expect limited hours, capacity and amenities. Portions of these parks and trails have been identified that can be reopened for day-use with limited risk to visitors and staff. To reduce risk, cash transactions are limited to exact change. Visit https://www.floridastateparks.org/learn/safety-updates for details on specific park openings

Many Florida beaches are open, but with restricted hours and limitations on certain activities.
• List of county by county beach closures: https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/currenttravel-safety-information.html
• Marinas and boat ramps are on a county by county basis, must confirm with each individual county.
People accessing open public beaches should follow CDC guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 people and distancing themselves from other parties by at least 6 feet.

Pursuant to Executive Order 20-123, effective May 18, licensed restaurants and food establishments in all Florida counties may allow on-premises consumption of food and beverage so long as they adopt appropriate social distancing measures and limit their indoor occupancy to no more than 50 percent of their building occupancy. In addition, outdoor seating is permissible with appropriate social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet between parties, only seating parties of 10 or fewer people and keeping bar counters closed to seating.

For information regarding your test, contact the provider/facility that ordered and/or collected the test. The COVID-19 Call Center cannot provide results, tell you exactly when or how you’ll get your results, or expedite results.

The Florida Department of Health follows CDC guidance on testing for COVID-19. This means that when a person goes to their local health care provider they will be asked the following questions:

  1. Did you have close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms?
  2. Are you located in an area where there is confirmed community spread?
  3. Are you experiencing unexplained respiratory illness that requires hospitalization?
  4. Have you traveled to or from an affected geographic area with community transmission in the last 14 days and have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness?

If the answer is yes to any of those questions, that person will be tested. Additionally, a person can be tested at the discretion of their local health care provider if they do not meet the above criteria.

The Florida Department of Health has three labs open in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa that will continue to operate to provide results as quickly as possible.

COVID-19 is caused by a previously unrecognized coronavirus, called COVID-19.For more information about COVID-19 please visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment can change daily. For the latest national situation report please visit the CDC’s website. For current information concerning Florida visit the Florida Department of Health website.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.

The Florida Department of Health is working with private and public partners to actively be involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Florida Department of Health Epidemiologists are partnering with providers to follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur.

The Florida Department of Health is communicating regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. The COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121.

This virus most likely originally emerged from an animal source and now appears to be spreading from person-to-person. Currently, COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. 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.

No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged COVID-19 is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. The Florida Department of Health and CDC recommend that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus (and avoid exposing other people).  Here’s how:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear a cloth face cover in public
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect “high-tough” surfaces

See more about preventing and preparing for COVID-19

The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically 2 to 14 days, although in some cases it may be longer.

If you are returning from an area with an outbreak of COVID-19 the CDC is recommending you self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon returning from your travels, even if asymptomatic. If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath during those 14 days contact your health care professional and mention your recent travel. Your provider will work with your county public health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from an impacted area, you should call a health care professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel.  For the most updated travel advisories regarding COVID-19, visit: U.S. Travel Advisories and CDC Information for Travel.

There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection available online.

Respiratory swabs (nose and throat) are collected by a health care provider and sent to a private laboratory or one of the state public health laboratories for COVID-19 testing.

To be tested for COVID-19 an order from a healthcare provider is usually required. Your healthcare provider can either collect a sample for testing in their office or provide an order to obtain testing at an alternative testing site. Most testing sites require an order from a healthcare provider, and for an appointment to be scheduled in advance, though there a number of sites that will test regardless of symptoms and without an appointment. The locations of COVID-19 testing is decided and coordinated at the local community level. Visit this website for more information concerning state supported testing sites. For additional testing sites, the best option is to do an online search for “COVID-19 test sites” in your city or county.

The provider/facility that ordered and/or collected the test will provide the results. The COVID19 Call Center cannot provide results, tell you exactly when or how you’ll get your results, or expedite results. For information regarding your test contact the provider/facility that ordered and/or collected the test.

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Learn about COVID-19 Treatment.

The length of time that the virus survives likely depends on factors. These factors could include the type of material or body fluid containing the virus and various environmental conditions such as temperature or humidity. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions are designing standardized experiments to measure how long COVID-19 can survive in situations that simulate natural environmental conditions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The list of disinfectant products can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from areas with widespread community transmission pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
The CDC, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play distinct but complementary roles in regulating the importation of live animals and animal products into the United States.

Domestic Travel: The COVID-19 outbreak in United States is a rapidly evolving situation. The status of the outbreak varies by location and state and local authorities are updating their guidance frequently. The White House’s Opening Up America Again plan means some parts of the country may have different guidance than other areas. Check with the state or local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.

International Travel: The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial travel options remain available, U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite length of time. For more information, visit the Department of State website.

For more detailed information: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/travelers/

Each company establishes its own refund policies, and any decision regarding refunds are between the traveler and the individual company.

According to Executive order 20-112 starting May 4, all persons in Florida should avoid congregating in large groups. Groups of greater than 10 are not permitted to congregate in any public space that does not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.

Per the Safe. Smart. Step-by Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery all individuals should continue to maximize physical distance from others in public, particularly in enclosed environments. Individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet.

The decision concerning a specific event or location is made by local authorities, please review your local government website or contact your local government for local information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are excellent sources of information about this evolving outbreak.

You can access their websites here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus

For Florida specific information, please consult The Florida Department of Health website:
http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/