COVID-19: Frequently asked questions

By Saige Miller on March 16, 2020
antibody tests
COVID-19 – Novel coronavirus. Surgical mask protective mask with COVID-19 text. Red background. Photo credit: Getty Images

COVID-19 coronavirus is shaking the nation and leaving citizens with a lot of unanswered questions.

So, the team is here to answer all your questions to keep you rockin’ and rollin’.

Some of the questions come right from you, other questions coming from social media platforms.

If we are missing something, or you would like to ask us a question, please email


How does the coronavirus spread? 

According to the CDC, there are two ways the virus spreads.

Most commonly, COVID-19 spreads person-t0-person. You have the possibility of catching the virus if you’re standing too close to an infected person or through respiratory droplets, such as coughing or sneezing.

The other way virus lives in on contaminated surfaces and objects. If an infected person touches their face and then another surface. This is why it’s important to disinfect frequently used spaces, such as tables, counters, and shared objects. However, the CDC does say coronavirus on surfaces is not the main way the virus spreads.

How come people are stocking up and taking everything before the less fortunate can?

We can’t be sure in all instances, but this could be a reflection of ‘panic buying,’ defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which people suddenly buy as much food, fuel, etc., as they can because they are worried about something bad that may happen.”

This could also be in response to widely-reported supply shortages in countries like China.

Why is everyone panicking over something that is just like the flu?

You’ve probably heard this virus referred to as novel coronavirus, and the ‘novel’ part is what’s driving panic in some people. It is a new strain of coronavirus (similar to SARS and MERS). According to an infectious disease specialist interviewed by Axios, pandemic viruses cause more anxiety because there’s no warning, or things like vaccines and diagnostic testing, beforehand.

What is a safe distance to keep when around other people?

Anywhere from three to six feet, if you or that other person is coughing.

If you can, please limit your exposure to public places. If you can work from home, please do. If you can avoid that trip to the bank, please do.

What is social distancing?

It’s the practice of staying away from other people to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. This means not attending large gatherings, including concerts, churches, schools, and so forth.

Governor Gary Herbert and Lutenient Governor Spencer Cox are encouraging all Utah residents to practice social distancing.

Stay home if you can.

Why are there limited quantities of COVID-19 test kits?

The CDC admits there was a problem with some of their original COVID-19 test kits, sent to laboratories in the first week of February. One of the chemicals used to conduct the test needed to be remanufactured.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) “as of the evening of March 12, 81 state and local public health laboratories in 50 states and the District of Columbia have successfully verified COVID-19 diagnostic tests and are offering testing.”

In other words, more people have made more tests, which should help.

Is it really as bad as it is being portrayed?

There isn’t an objective answer to this question. Based on the numbers provided by the CDC, COVID-19 coronavirus is at least 10 times more deadly than the flu.

How many confirmed cases are actually in Utah?

As of March 16, 2020, there are 29 confirmed cases in the state of Utah.

Ten tourists tested positive for COVID-19 who contracted the virus outside of Utah. With those ten cases, the total people with coronavirus in Utah is 39.

How long do symptoms last?

COVID-19 symptoms can take 2-14 days to show after coming in contact with an infected person.

How sick a person might become if they contract COVID-19 is dependent upon their age, and their health. The CDC tell us that people aged 65 and over are more at risk.

If you contract COVID-19, the symptoms of fever, tiredness, and dry cough will most likely be mild.  In this instance, the disease is much like the common cold or flu.

Should I go to a hospital if I’m experiencing symptoms? 

No. You should not go directly to a hospital if you are experiencing symptoms. The Utah Department of Health advises those experiencing symptoms to seek out their local doctor first before visiting a hospital. In some cases, you can speak to a doctor via telecommunication.

If you visit a hospital, there’s a good chance you will be turned away. In order for healthcare facilities to treat patients, they cannot be overwhelmed with people who believe they have contracted COVID-19. Visiting a hospital when sick could also harm those currently being treated.

Is there any information about how it affects pregnant women or unborn children?

The CDC says they do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of becoming sick from COVID-19. They agree that pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.

With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.

They stress that it remains important for pregnant women to do everything they can to protect themselves from this illness. So wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, and consider social distancing if people in your work/school/church circles become sick.

When will grocery stores be able to restock food?

There are currently no shortages of food in the United States, and there have been no disruptions to supply distribution. However, due to panic buying, some stores have sold out of supplies like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

Retail employees are working diligently to keep shelves stocked. Many grocery stores are re-stocking throughout the day and in some cases, closing early to restock.

Please be patient and courteous to those in the retail industry. They are doing their absolute best to keep up with demand.

Can I still go out to eat? 

It depends on where you live in Utah.

As of March, 16th 2020, Salt Lake City and Park City are limiting restaurant services to strictly takeout and delivery only. In these places, you can only pre-pay as well. No service worker will handle cash or a credit card in person.

I have travel plans, can I get tested to show I don’t have COVID-19 before I leave?

The CDC says that only people who have the symptoms, those who have traveled to countries with tons of cases like Italy and China, or who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, should be tested.

Are airlines canceling domestic flights?

Many U.S. airlines are cutting back on the number of flights they offer domestically to reduce their overhead costs and the money they are losing because of restricted international travel.

Some have announced that they will waive change fees for domestic travel if the ticket was purchased before a certain date.

You should check with your airline to learn more about your domestic flight options.

My international flight has been canceled. What do I do?

Contact the airline you bought your ticket from.

Is this a hoax?


Could you please share a chart comparing symptoms to cold and flu and coronavirus?

According to Johns Hopkins University, the similarities between influenza and COVID 19 are symptoms, treatment, *possibly transmission (this is still being determined), and prevention.

The differences boil down to what causes the illnesses. COVID-19 is caused by one virus, influenza can be caused by several types and strains of influenza virus. As a result, influenza can sometimes be treated by anti-viral medications while no such medication yet exists for COVID-19. Further, no vaccine is yet available for COVID-19, and finally, at the publication date, there were far fewer people infected with or dying from COVID-19 this year than has been the case with the influenza virus in years past.

Why are schools closed?

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced a “soft closure” of all public schools in Utah. This is temporary and will last two weeks until the state can reevaluate the spread of the virus.

School is still in session but all instruction will be available online.

Gov. Herbert said he is closing all public schools out of an abundance of caution.

What if my children don’t have access to the internet or a computer? 

Thankfully, state officials thought ahead. If your child/children do not have access to a computer or the internet, your school district should have resources for your family to utilize. Contact your school directly to see how they are handling the situation.

Many schools are also offering free lunch for students who rely on it.

Is there a cure?

No, but we’ll eventually have a vaccine. Health officials have begun human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine. However, medical testing does not happen quickly, so it could be a while before a vaccine is available to the public.

Do you build up antibodies so you only get it once?

A German study found that people who are infected with COVID-19 created anti-bodies quickly, typically within six to 12 days. The rapid rise of antibodies may explain why about 80% of people infected with the virus do not develop severe disease.

Will essential oils cure my coronavirus?


As of March 6, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued seven warning letters to companies marketing products to prevent or cure COVID-19 infections, offering false claims for prevention or cure. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that they will take action against these companies if necessary.

Will toilet paper cure the coronavirus?


Why toilet paper?

This is a question for the ages! This trend could be another indication of ‘panic buying,’ where people buy a lot of a certain product because they are worried that something bad is going to happen. This could also be in response to widely-reported supply shortages in countries like China.

What are state officials and health experts saying about COVID-19? 

State officials and the Utah Department of Health have been holding daily press briefings every day.  On Wednesday, health experts in Utah and state officials held a town hall answering a lot of the public’s questions and concerns.

Resources for more information: 


State of Utah: 

Utah State Board of Education 

Utah Hospital Association 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707 

National Links 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization 

Cases in the United States 

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