We know you have lots of questions and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak around the world. That’s why, as a trusted academic health center, we’re providing fact-based information, reliable data and the latest, evidence-based recommendations.

What should I do if I might have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’ve been exposed to someone but aren’t sure they have a confirmed case…
  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure
  • Call your primary care provider if you experience COVID-19 symptoms
If you’ve been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case…
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days (avoid being closer than six feet to others)
  • Call your primary care provider if you experience COVID-19 symptoms
  • If you do not have a primary care provider, call Telehealth Immediate Care at 614-293-3200.

What does it mean to quarantine

Those in quarantine should try to keep six to 10 feet of distance between themselves and another person, and avoid prolonged contact while in an enclosed space. They should also:

  1. sleep in a separate room from others
  2. practice strict cough etiquette (cover sneeze or cough with sleeve)
  3. practice strict hand hygiene
  4. avoid sharing utensils, dishware or drinking cups

As the CDC explains: “Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.”

What should I do if I have no symptoms and want to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Unless you’ve recently traveled to affected countries or have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, there’s no need to change any routine activities or behaviors related to the outbreak.

The CDC advises there’s no need to wear a mask unless you need to avoid spreading your own respiratory illness to others, or are caring for someone with COVID-19. Learn more about why you probably don’t need to wear a surgical mask.

In general, practicing routine hygiene etiquette is the best way to prevent the spread of infection:

  • Stay home when you're sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you sneeze or cough
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds or longer) or use alcohol hand rub if no soap and water are available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces
  • Clean and disinfect "high-touch" surfaces often

If you’re seriously ill, seek medical advice from a doctor or emergency department.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Based on current CDC guidance, person-to-person spread most likely occurs through respiratory droplets between people in close proximity, similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses.

  • Prolonged exposure within six feet of an infected person would put you at risk for getting the virus.
  • The period from exposure to symptom onset is believed to be within 14 days.
    • For example, if a person returned from an outbreak area more than 14 days ago, the person would be outside the window for disease onset.
  • Practicing routine hygiene practices daily is the best way to prevent the spread of infection:
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol hand rub regularly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with people that are sick.
    • Anyone who is ill should keep a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from others to reduce the risk of transmitting germs.
    • Stay home if you don’t feel well. If you’re seriously ill, seek medical attention.

Should I travel out of the country?

If you have international travel scheduled in the coming weeks – especially to affected countries – you should monitor travel warnings carefully prior to departure.

Who is most at risk for experiencing severe symptoms with COVID-19?

Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Other groups typically at higher risk of infectious disease, such as pregnant women and young children, aren’t currently considered high risk.


What should I do if I’m in one of the at-risk groups?

The CDC continues to update recommendations for immunocompromised individuals and those at higher risk for severe COVID-19.


I’m really anxious about the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do to cope?

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center mental health experts advise treating anxiety over COVID-19 the same way you would treat anxiety over any of life’s uncertainties.

They’ve provided a list of 10 tips to address coronavirus fears through mindfulness, reframing your thinking and using other coping strategies.