FAQs

What is the novel coronavirus COVID-19?

A coronavirus is a virus that is common among people and animals.

The coronavirus you are hearing about — COVID-19 — is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. It was first discovered in China in late 2019.

How serious is COVID-19?

The severity of the illness varies from person to person.

For many people, the virus will not lead to any serious complications or hospitalization, but some cases can lead to pneumonia or even acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which requires a patient to be put on a ventilator with oxygen. If the lungs are damaged and insufficient oxygen reaches the rest of the body, respiratory failure can lead to organ failure and death.

People with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions (such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness) and those older than 60 are most at risk of serious infection.

How is COVID-19 spread?

The virus is spread mainly from person-to-person contact – like shaking hands – and through respiratory droplets produced when someone with the virus sneezes or coughs.

The virus can remain on objects or surfaces touched by someone with COVID-19. If you touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the virus can spread to you.

Most early cases of COVID-19 in the United States were associated with travel in countries where the virus was more prevalent. Increasingly, however, the virus is “community-acquired” — caught through close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

How do I keep from catching COVID-19?

Limit close interactions with other people – also known as “social distancing.” Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.

Try not to touch people or surfaces where the virus could be.

Wash your hands – including fingernails and wrists – frequently with soap, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with a paper towel to remove residual germs and use it to turn the faucet handle so you don’t recontaminate your hands. Throw the paper towel away.

If soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) to scrub your hands like you would with soap and water.

Remember to disinfect commonly used surfaces and items frequently, using regular household cleaners or wipes.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw it away. Wash your hands immediately.

Though people are thought to be most contagious when they are showing symptoms, the virus can be spread even when an infected person shows no symptoms.

How often do I need to wash my hands?

Wash your hands before you leave the house, so as not to spread your household germs, and once you arrive at your destination to remove germs picked up on the way, from doors, elevator buttons, or your vehicle.

Wash your hands before and after you prepare food and before and after you eat.

Wash your hands after cleaning objects or surfaces.

Wash your hands before and after tending to your child.

Wash your hands after touching a shopping cart, basket or other common surface; after you use the bathroom, blow your nose, cough or sneeze.

Do I have to wear a face mask to protect myself from COVID-19?

You should only wear a face mask if you are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (especially coughing) or taking care of someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Can masks be reused by an infected person?

Ideally, no. The longer a mask is used, the more damp it becomes, and the less effective it is. If it is the only option, however, it is better than nothing.

Am I protected against COVID-19 if I had a flu vaccine this year?

No. Influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, and the seasonal influenza vaccine does not protect against COVID-19.

Who is at risk for COVID-19?

People with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions (such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness), and those older than 60, are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

That said, all people, regardless of risk factor, should take preventive measures to reduce the spread of illness. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are still learning about it.

Are pregnant women at higher risk?

We do not have enough information to state definitively whether pregnant women are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or experiencing more severe illness as a result of COVID-19. Pregnant women should take usual preventive actions to avoid infection.

Are children at higher risk?

Current information suggests that children are at lower risk for serious illness from COVID-19 than the general population. However, children could inadvertently pass the virus to others, including older adults and people with long-term medical conditions.

Is my pet at risk?

There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. People with pets and people who work with animals should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection, like hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The flu, the common cold, seasonal allergies and COVID-19 may have similar symptoms, so it is important to know what to look for when evaluating how you are feeling. People with COVID-19 may or may not experience all of the common symptoms.

Current symptoms reported with COVID-19 include: fever, cough, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Aches and pains are more commonly associated with the flu but have been reported with COVID-19.

Nearly half of people with COVID-19 report having digestive problems.

If you are sneezing or have a runny nose, it is more likely that you have allergies or a cold, but watch for other symptoms. Maintain good respiratory hygiene: cough or sneeze into a tissue, dispose of it and wash your hands, or cough/sneeze into your upper arm or elbow.

How long does it take for symptoms of the COVID-19 virus to appear?

The CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

What should I do if I am sick?

Do not go to work, school or any other public places.

As with many other viruses, you need to rest, drink fluids and control fever to help relieve symptoms.

If you have symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath), self-quarantine and contact your health care provider or call the Metro Public Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at 615-862-7777 (7 a.m. – 7 p.m., daily).

If you are sick but do not have symptoms associated with COVID-19 (fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath), stay home and rest – unless you need to get medical care. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, self-quarantine and contact your health care provider or Metro’s COVID-19 Hotline.

Separate yourself from other people in your home. Avoid sharing household items with others in your home.

If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, a severe headache or other potentially life-threatening problems, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911.

Can’t I just go to the emergency room?

Do not go to the emergency room unless you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency. If your symptoms are manageable, you are encouraged to self-isolate and rest at home. If you need medical care but it is not a life-threatening emergency, please contact your health care provider.

Can I get re-infected with COVID-19?

This is a new disease, so we’re not certain. Some people in China and Japan have tested positive for COVID-19 after recovering from the illness, but it is possible that low levels of the virus were simply still in their blood. And even if there is immunity, we don’t know if it is only seasonal, as with the flu, or permanent.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

If you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease, self-quarantine at home and contact your health care provider or call the Metro COVID-19 Information Hotline at  615-862-7777, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Health professionals staffing the hotline will determine if you should be further assessed for COVID-19. Those callers who need additional screening will be directed to their health care provider or to one of the drive-through community assessment centers to be screened and, if necessary, tested for COVID-19.

Centers are open at Nissan Stadium, Meharry Medical College and the former Kmart in Antioch. All centers will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Testing is available, free of charge, for Nashville residents.

Nissan Stadium, Lot “N,” 1 Titans Way, Nashville, TN 37213

Meharry Medical College, 918 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37217

Former Kmart, 2491 Murfreesboro Pike, Antioch, TN 37217

How do I get a COVID-19 test?

First, call the Metro Public Health COVID-19 Information Hotline – 615-862-7777, 7 a.m-7 p.m. daily – to speak with a public health professional about your symptoms. If additional assessment is necessary, you will be directed to your provider or one of Metro’s Community Assessment Centers to be screened and, if necessary, tested for COVID-19.

Centers are open at Nissan Stadium, Meharry Medical College and the former Kmart in Antioch. All centers will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Testing is available, free of charge, for Nashville residents.

Nissan Stadium, Lot “N,” 1 Titans Way, Nashville, TN 37213

Meharry Medical College, 918 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37217

Former Kmart, 2491 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217

Please note: These assessment resources are in addition to assessments already provided by health care facilities across the metropolitan area.

What can I expect at the Metro Assessment Sites?

All of Metro’s Community Assessment Centers offer drive-thru testing, so you do not have to get out of your car. Health care providers will come to your car to complete your assessment and, if necessary, your COVID-19 test. 

What is the COVID-19 test like?

The test for COVID-19 is a nasal swab that gathers cells from the nasopharyngeal region. The test takes about 10 seconds from start to finish.

After the test is complete, patients will receive information from their provider as to how results can be accessed.

How long will I have to wait at a Metro Assessment Center?

Wait times will depend upon the number of community members at each site, but lines may be long.

We appreciate your patience as we work to assess all who are seeking care.

Where are the Metro Nashville COVID-19 Assessment Centers?

Community assessment centers are located:

  • Nissan Stadium, Lot “N,” 1 Titans Way, Nashville, TN 37213
  • Meharry Medical College, 918 21st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37217
  • Former Kmart, 2491 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217

I work/live/have visited a building where someone tested positive for COVID-19. Should I get a test?

If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, we do not recommend that you get a COVID-19 test.

What do I do if I can’t miss work or I’m worried about my finances?

There are resources available to assist those experiencing hardship. Please visit covid19.nashville.gov for more information.

If you do not have insurance coverage or you face financial hardship, contact Neighborhood Health at 615-227-3000 or https://www.neighborhoodhealthtn.org/

Will my utilities still be operational during this outbreak?

Yes. NES, Piedmont Gas, Metro Water Services and Metro’s Division of Waste Management Trash Collection will still be in operation and delivering regular services.

Cable/Broadband companies, including Comcast, AT&T, Google Fiber and others, have also reported no break in service.

Can I drink the water in Nashville?

Yes, the water in Nashville is safe to drink. It is not impacted by COVID-19.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?

The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on an airplane?

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?

To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

Is it safe to handle a package/parcel from an area affected by COVID-19? What should I do?

There is no evidence of a risk of contracting COVID-19 from packages that were in areas affected by COVID-19. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. The best way to protect yourself is to use good hand and respiratory hygiene: wash your hands using soap, and cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper arm.

Is it safe to handle money that may have been handled by someone with COVID-19?

There is no evidence of a risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 by handling money. The best way to protect yourself is to use good hand and respiratory hygiene: wash your hands using soap, and cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper arm.

There is no evidence that handling physical money or cash contributes to the spread of COVID-19. To take precaution, the CDC has recommended that individuals wash their hands after touching physical objects and avoid touching their own face, eyes, mouth and nose.

Is it safe to get carry-out food?

Restaurants adhere to strong sanitation guidelines, but the virus can survive on some packaging. Remove the food, dispose of the bag and use clean utensils to transfer food to a clean dish. Wash your hands with soap and water before eating.

Some companies have begun “contactless delivery,” leaving the package on your doorstep, to protect delivery workers and customers practicing “social distancing.”

Is it safe to be outside in my neighborhood - running, riding a bike or walking the dog?

Yes! Exercise is important for a strong immune system and mental health. Just maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity occurs when enough people have contracted a virus and become immune that its spread can be slowed and potentially stopped.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people or avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.

What is flattening the curve?

By taking community isolation measures, we can keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers. A slower infection rate means a less stressed health care system, fewer hospital visits on any given day and fewer sick people being turned away.

What is epidemiology?

Epidemiology is the study of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations.