Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about COVID-19

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information is likely to change.

Cases and Transmission

Q: How many cases do we have here?
A:
 There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in all 8 counties of the Coastal Health District. We provide an updated case count every day at 7 p.m. on the home page of this site.

It is important to keep in mind that lab-confirmed case numbers may not show an accurate picture of the presence of COVID-19 in our community. Some people who have the virus do not have symptoms, or have onlymild symptoms, and may not choose to be tested. There are likely many more cases of infection than are reflected in the report.

To see the number of cases across the state, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website at dph.ga.gov. The case counts are updated 3 times each day at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m. For a national case update, visit the website of the CDC.

Q: How can I protect myself from getting sick?
A: 
We all have to do our part to prevent further spread of illness. There is widespread transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 throughout Georgia.

That means:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water. If you don’t have soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Limit interactions with persons outside your household.
  • When you leave your home, wear a mask or cloth face covering in public places around other people.
  • Regularly clean commonly-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, computer keyboards, and light switches.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue and throw the tissue away or cough into the crook of your elbow.

Q: Is the virus in my community?
A: Yes. Whether a county has one confirmed case or several, the virus is here. Because the virus can be spread by someone with no symptoms, it’s difficult to know who is and is not a carrier of the virus. Rather than focusing on case numbers to assess your risk of exposure, it’s better to take precautions to prevent getting sick.

Testing

Q: Who can get tested and where?
A:
 The Department of Public Health now offers free testing for anyone who would like to be tested, regardless of symptoms.

Some testing sites require an appointment. Call our COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 1-912-230-9744 or visit our testing information page to get information about a testing site near you.

Important note: the testing does not occur at the health department, so please do not come to a clinic in person to request a test.

Q: What is antibody testing?
A: Antibody testing is a type of serology (blood) test that checks for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies are produced when someone has been infected, so a positive result from this test indicates that person was previously infected with the virus.

Q: Is antibody testing available in our area?
A:
Currently, antibody testing is not available through the Coastal Health District, but some private healthcare providers may offer antibody testing. Please be aware: we do not yet know if a positive antibody test means you have immunity to the illness. Scientists are conducting studies to answer those questions.

Also, antibody tests may not be able to tell you if you are currently infected because it typically takes 1 to 3 weeks after infection to develop antibodies to this particular coronavirus. To tell if you are currently infected, you would need a test that identifies the virus in samples from your upper respiratory system, such as a nasal swab.

Q: Do we have drive-through testing in our area?
A:  Yes. The Coastal Health District has 3 drive-through specimen collection centers operating 7 days a week by appointment, and several mobile testing events scheduled. Call our COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 1-912-230-9744 or visit our testing information page to get information about a testing site near you.

Q: What should I do while I wait to be tested?
A: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s very important that you remain under home isolation and away from other family members until you can be tested and you get your test results. This will reduce the risk that you could spread the virus to others while you wait for those results.

The CDC website has information about how you can stay safe and protect your family while isolating at home. Visit the CDC’s web page, “What to do if you are sick.

If your symptoms get worse, call your doctor, or if you have a medical emergency like difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1. Be sure to let them know you are being tested and may have COVID-19; this will help them take the necessary precautions to protect themselves while helping you.

Q: Are there tools to help me decide if I need medical care?
A: Yes. The CDC and Apple have developed an online Coronavirus Self-Checker. The purpose of this tool is to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. This system is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19.

Q: How many people are being tested in our area?
A: We do not have comprehensive data on the number of tests that have been performed since the beginning of the outbreak. In addition to our testing program, private healthcare providers also offer testing. Private providers do not report negative test results to public health, only positive test results.

Q: How will we know if people in our area are positive for COVID-19?
A:
 Laboratories must report positive tests to public health. The Georgia Department of Public Health releases updated case counts 3 times a day for each county in Georgia. We post the updated numbers on the home page of this site every day at 7 p.m.

Please be mindful that the “lab-confirmed” case numbers likely don’t show a completely accurate picture of the presence of COVID-19 in our communities.

Q: Can you tell me if my neighbor/coworker/friend/a healthcare worker has tested positive for COVID-19?
A: No, we cannot disclose any personal information about individuals who have been tested for COVID-19. The only information we release about confirmed cases is county of residence. Rather than focusing on your exposure to a specific individual, it may be more helpful to take appropriate social distancing precautions with everyone right now to lessen your risk of exposure.

Q: Are there home testing kits available?
A:
 At least one at-home testing kit has been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. The commercial laboratory LabCorp is offering the kits to healthcare workers and first responders who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or may be symptomatic, and expects to have the kits available to consumers in the coming weeks.

Q: How many people have recovered from COVID-19?
A: Recovery status is not data we collect. Our investigation focuses on activity histories and contact tracing to limit further spread, and we provide recommendations for patients moving forward, but we do not track patients throughout their clinical presentation.

Social Distancing

Q: What is social distancing?
A:
 Social distancing means minimizing contact with people. It also means that if you are near someone in public, try to stay at least 6 feet away and wear a mask in public. The less contact people have with one another, the less opportunity for the virus to spread. Slowing the spread of the virus means we can keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Precautions

Q: Should I wear a facemask?
A:
 CDC recommends the use of cloth face coverings in community settings (for example, grocery stores and pharmacies) to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. People who are infected can spread the virus before they develop symptoms or in the absence of symptoms. Wearing a cloth face covering or face mask may help prevent the spread of the virus by people are infected and do not know it.

Q: Should I go to my house of worship?
A:
 Online, call-in, or drive-in worship services are still the safest option. However, faith communities can hold in-person services if they follow social distancing protocols. Participants should keep at least six feet of distance from other people who are not from their same household. Face masks or cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged.

Please do not go to church if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or have had direct contact with someone who has COVID-19. If you’re medically fragile or older than 60, you should continue to shelter in place and utilize remote services instead of in-person services.

Q: Should I go out at all?
A:
 We still highly encourage residents to stay home unless they need to go out for essentials. If you do go out, wear a mask or cloth covering over your nose and mouth. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible.

We especially urge those at high risk of complications from COVID-19 to stay home and away from others. That includes those 60 and older, those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, or diabetes, or those who are immunocompromised. As a reminder, the shelter in place rule for the medically fragile and Georgians over age 65 remains in effect through June 12.

Transmission

Q: Can COVID-19 be spread through water?
A: Click here to find out more about drinking water, recreational water, wastewater and COVID-19:
COVID-19 and Water Transmission

Q: How does it spread?
A: It’s thought that the main way COVID-9 spreads is from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes in close contact with someone else – within about 6 feet, in fact. That’s why social distancing and staying at least six feet away from others is so important.

It is important to note that a person can still spread the virus even if they have no symptoms.

Q: Can I get coronavirus if I touch something that an infected person has touched?
A: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Q: How long can the virus live on surfaces?
A: The virus may be able to live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. That’s why it’s important to clean high-touch areas such as counters, doorknobs, light switches, and key boards.

Treatment

Q: Is there a treatment?
A:
 There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.

Q: I heard there is something that can help treat COVID-19.
A: There are no drugs approved to prevent or treat the coronavirus. Be aware that some people may try to sell you a treatment that is unauthorized and not appropriate, and could even be dangerous.
Click here to read more about COVID-19 scams

Chloroquine phosphate, when used without a prescription and supervision of a healthcare provider, can cause serious health consequences, including death. READ MORE.

Q: Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
A: There is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation but it will be some time before a viable vaccine is developed and adequate safety studies have been done.

More Information

Q: Can I go outside?
A: 
If you do go out, wear a mask or cloth covering over your nose and mouth. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible.

Q: Isn’t it mainly older people who get really sick?
A: While older people are at higher risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19, younger adults can also get sick from the virus and develop serious complications.

Q: How does COVID-19 affect children?
A: While children typically have milder illness, they can still become very sick and even die. A recent CDC study suggests that young infants (<1 year of age) and children with underlying health conditions may be at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 compared with older children and those with no underlying conditions.

Even if a child has mild symptoms or no symptoms of COVID-19 infection, children can still spread the virus to others. Everyone should take precautions to protect themselves from this new coronavirus.

Q: I still have questions. Where can I get more information?
A:
  If you have a question about COVID-19 testing, call our COVID-19 Testing Call Center at 1-912-230-9744 or visit our testing information page. For other COVID-19 questions, there is a state of Georgia hotline at 1-844-442-2681.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has the most current and accurate information on COVID-19.