Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?


COVID-19 is caused by a new respiratory virus. In December 2019, the virus began circulating in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world, but health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia.


What are the symptoms?


Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.


Where are cases of COVID-19?


Confirmed cases have been documented in the state of Michigan. Information about the number of persons under investigation (PUIs) and specimens tested is updated daily at Also available are the total number of people who may have been exposed to the virus who are referred to local public health for monitoring or assessment.


For the latest reports of where the virus is being documented in the U.S., check the CDC website.  


How does COVID-19 spread?


Health experts are still learning about how this new coronavirus spreads. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:  


  • The air by coughing and sneezing.  
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands. 
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. 
  • In rare cases, contact with feces (poop).    

For more information, visit 


How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19? 


If you are traveling overseas follow the CDC’s guidance at     

There are steps you can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold that will also help prevent coronavirus disease, including: 


  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. 
  • Use hand sanitizer. 
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or your upper arm when you sneeze or cough. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 


Right now, there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public in the United States. 


What is Michigan doing to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 spread in the state?


MDHHS began working with local health departments, healthcare coalitions, hospital and healthcare partners when the novel coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China. Initial focus was working with federal partners to ensure that Michigan’s public health system could support traveler screening and monitoring to limit the entry of coronavirus cases into the United States. 


Hospitals and healthcare partners were also engaged to establish screening procedures for any patients presenting for care with a travel history and symptoms that could be indicative of a possible coronavirus case. These activities have mirrored much of the public health response to recent Ebola outbreaks.


While MDHHS was implementing those activities, there has been considerable effort put into planning for the next phase of this outbreak which would include community mitigation.  


On Feb. 28, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the State Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate the state’s response. 


Visit the Mid-Michigan District Health Department Web site at for updates. 

For more information, visit MDHHS at 


What does it mean if someone is being monitored for COVID-19? 


Public health monitors the health of people who could have been exposed to the virus. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is receiving daily referrals about travelers from the CDC airport quarantine stations. Once MDHHS receives the referral, the information is provided to the local health department in the jurisdiction where the traveler resides. Local health department staff contact the individual, assess their risk and supervise daily for health monitoring (temperature, cough, difficulty breathing) for 14 days after their last day of exposure.    


There is information summarizing the number of individuals referred to Michigan’s public health network for monitoring or assessment available at   


Has anyone been quarantined? 


To date, MDHHS reports that no individuals have been placed in a quarantine facility because the screening process has not identified any individuals as being at “high risk” of infection.  For more information, visit MDHHS at


What determines if someone is tested for coronavirus?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created the following criteria for testing. Currently, that evaluation includes: 


  • Fever or lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath) AND any person, including health care workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Fever and lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath) requiring hospitalization AND a history of travel from affected geographic areas (China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea) within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness (pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without alternative explanatory diagnosis (e.g., influenza) AND no source of exposure has been identified.

This definition will change as we understand more about COVID-19.  


For more information, visit


 Can my health care provider test for coronavirus disease 2019? 


Health care providers collect the specimen to be tested should an individual meet the testing criteria. The CDC has tested samples from Michigan (all were negative). As of Feb. 27, the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories can also perform the test. 


For more information, visit