Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

For detailed, updated FAQs from New York State Department of Health, see this document.

For FAQ on the COVID-19 vaccine click here

What is COVID-19 and what are the symptoms?

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus and may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms including:

  • cough
  • fever
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

How dangerous is COVID-19?

The majority of people will recover on their own without needing hospitalization. Some people who are more at risk, including older individuals, people with compromised immune systems, and people with chronic medical conditions, may develop pneumonia and other breathing complications. People with more significant breathing complications will require hospital care.

What can I do to stay healthy?

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Physical distancing
  • Socialize small and in a safe way

Where can I get medical evaluation?

The CDC and New York State Department of Health are recommending people seek evaluation through virtual care.  The public can access our major local healthcare systems offer virtual care services through these links:

If you are not comfortable with virtual care, then call the office of your healthcare provider or walk-in provider prior to arrival.

When should I call 911 or go to the emergency department?

If you are having severe difficulty breathing, you should call 911 or go to the closest appropriate emergency department. Inform the 911 dispatcher if you are on quarantine or isolation under the Broome County Health Department.

Do I need to be tested?

Testing is recommend for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, people identified as close contacts to a confirmed case and by recommendation by a healthcare provider. 

Where can I get tested?

Any New York resident can get tested at the drive-thru testing site at Binghamton University. Call 1-888-364-3065 or go online at to make an appointment. Appointments are required. Testing is also being conducted through local healthcare providers and pharmacies.

What should I do if I am healthy?

In order to protect your community from the spread of the virus follow these simple steps to help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  •  Avoid close contact with people. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Monitor your health daily.

What should I do if I am sick?

Try to limit your contact with others to prevent spreading the disease. This means staying home from work or other activities if you are able. Limit the amount of people coming to your home while you are sick. Seek medical care if you are concerned. Consider seeking care through a virtual care service provided by one of our healthcare providers. If you are not comfortable with virtual care, then call the office of your healthcare provider or walk-in provider prior to arrival.

What should I do if someone in my home is sick?

Continuously clean surfaces within your home. Avoid touching dirty tissues or other materials that may contain germs. Wash your hands frequently. Try to avoid direct contact with the ill individual.

I was a close contact to a person that tested positive for COVID-19 and was asked to quarantine, what should I do? 

If you were around someone who had COVID-19, it is critical that you stay home and away from others for 10 days from the last day that you were around that person. Staying home and away from others at all times helps our community in the fight against COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family, and your community. Contact the Health Department regarding quarantine documentation, a review of how to quarantine and an assessment of your needs during the quarantine process. 

Do I need still need to quarantine if I am tested and the result is negative?

Yes it is important to still quarantine even if your COVID-19 test is negative. It can take up to 10 days after exposure to the virus for a person to develop COVID-19 symptoms. A negative result before the end of the 10-day quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. By self-quarantining for 10 days, you lower the chance of possibly exposing others to COVID-19.

What do I need to return to work? 

The Broome County Health Department shares employers' interests in keeping workplaces safe for employees, customers, clients and visitors. This can best be accomplished by following current public health recommendations. 

An issue that often arises is when an employee can return to work. In most situations, non-healthcare employees who have had COVID-19 can return safely to all their usual activities, including work duties, once they have been released by the health department from public health isolation. In New York State, release from public health isolation usually takes place when:

  • 10 days have passed from symptom onset (if there were any), or from the date of their positive test (if there were no symptoms), and they have had no fever for the final three consecutive days of those 10 days, and they are feeling subjectively better

A negative COVID-19 test is not required for release from public health isolation and we recommend it not be required by employers for return to work.

This is in line with CDC recommendations. Full details of those CDC recommendations are available here.

There are several problems with requiring a negative test: The typical nasal swab COVID-19 test can detect broken pieces of old, non-infectious virus, sometimes even weeks to months after initial infection. Based on the best available research evidence, people who have recovered but remain with a persistent positive test are not contagious. Waiting for a negative test will exclude these employees from work for an unnecessarily long time. In addition, requiring a pre-return negative test is can be an unnecessary burden on our local testing capacity.

Will wearing a mask prevent me from getting the virus?

Per CDC guidance, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that all individuals should wear a mask in public when unable to social distance (6 feet apart), including public transportation. Wearing a mask prevents individuals from transmitting COVID-19. 

For additional information on COVID-19, visit the CDC COVID-19 website.