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New York City is experiencing rates of COVID-19 cases that we have not seen since April. The Health Department recommends that people who are higher risk stay home and limit contact with others at this time.

People with underlying health conditions, as well as those who live or care for such people, should now take increased precautions.

COVID-19 Vaccines

The first COVID-19 Vaccine was issued emergency approval by the FDA on December 12, created by Pfizer/BioNTech. It is now being administered to healthcare professionals on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 and long term care facility employees and staff. For more information on the vaccine click here

New York City is now in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy, as of Monday, January 11th. Eligible groups now include people 65 and older, grocery workers, first responders and staff of first responders, correctional officers, teachers and childcare providers, public transit employees and homeless shelter employees and residents. For more information on eligibility click here

Follow These Four Strategies To Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Wear a Mask: When you’re out in public and unable to keep six feet of distance between yourself and others, keep your nose and mouth covered. This protects you as well as others who are more vulnerable, since it’s possible you could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus

Wash Your Hands: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands whenever you touch or come into contact with items or surfaces outside of your home. Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Practice Social Distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people as much as possible. Social gatherings are strongly discouraged during this time. If possible, please limit your interactions with others. 

Stay Home if You’re Sick: If you are sick, it’s essential that you stay home to prevent spreading the virus. Do not leave your house unless it’s for essential medical care or essential errands. Since anyone you’ve had close contact with is likely infected as well, it is best to let them know and to advise them to quarantine.

Coronavirus Testing

All New Yorkers should regularly get tested for COVID-19, especially if you’ve been participating in larger social gatherings. New York City has expanded free testing and is increasing the number community testing sites across the city. Visit NYC.gov for more information.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause mild illnesses like a cold, to more serious illnesses like pneumonia.

The disease that is caused by the new coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

The most common reported symptoms are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Most people with COVID-19 will feel like they have a bad cold or the flu. Some people will require hospitalization. People who are at highest risk for severe illness are the elderly or have other health conditions. Commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Fever (temperature over 100.4 degrees F or 38 degrees C)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • Sore throat

Some patients also report:

  • Loss of a sense of taste or smell
  • Feeling achy
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of these symptoms, and they are not due to a preexisting health condition, you may have COVID-19 and you must stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.

All New Yorkers must monitor their health carefully at this time. Even if you are not sick, stay home as much as you can.

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, stay home. If you are over 50 years old or have chronic conditions, consult your doctor. They may want to monitor you more closely.

If your symptoms do not go away or get worse after three to four days, consult with your doctor.

If you need help reaching a health care provider, call 311. Hospital staff will not ask about immigration status. Receiving health care is not a public benefit identified by the public charge test.

Staying home is the best way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, there are basic protective measures you can take to keep yourself and your community safe.

1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.

Washing hands with soap and warm water, or using an alcohol-based hand rub can kill any viruses that might be on your hands. Wash for at least 20 seconds.

2. Monitor your health.

Monitor yourself closely for cold and flu-like symptoms. If you feel sick, stay home and minimize your contact with others.

3. Try not to touch your face.

Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands). Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

4. Create more space between yourself and others

This is called social (or physical) distancing. Avoid all unnecessary events, travel or interactions. Stay at home as much as you can.

5. Connect to your community.

If you can and if it is safe to do so, contact your neighbors and community members to see if they need additional assistance, such as the elderly or people with health conditions.

Social (physical) distancing is a practice to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by minimizing physical contact with others.

When practicing social distancing, you should:

  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Create more physical space between yourself and others
  • Keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others, whenever possible
  • Do not gather in large crowds
  • Work from home, if possible
  • Avoid all nonessential travel

YES. A face covering or mask can significantly reduce your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. A face covering can include anything that covers your nose and mouth, including dust masks, scarves and bandanas.

COVID-19 is airborne, and is more likely to spread among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) with an infected person when that person coughs or sneezes. It may also be more easily transmitted in indoor spaces with low air circulation.

Scientists disagree on how long COVID-19 lives on surfaces, but it can live on surfaces that people frequently touch. The virus can then be spread if someone touches their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Public health officials are still learning about the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is believed that people who are experiencing symptoms (coughing and sneezing) are most likely to transmit the virus to others.

New Yorkers can do the following to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home as much as you can. Avoid all unnecessary events, travel or interactions.
  • When outside, keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when not in your home.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid shaking hands. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
  • If you have family or friends who are elderly, have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues, do not visit them if you feel sick.

Emotional reactions to stressful situations like this are expected. It’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, or have other symptoms of distress, such as trouble sleeping.

If symptoms become worse, last longer than a month or if you struggle to participate in your usual daily activities, reach out for support and help.

You can call NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355) or text “WELL” to 65173. NYC Well is a confidential helpline that is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide brief supportive therapy, crisis counseling, and connections to behavioral health treatment and support in over 200 languages.

The Health Department also has a helpful guide on how to cope with stress and social distancing during this outbreak.

The Health Department updates its data regularly and is determining its count based on the number of positive cases. More information can be found here.

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, which is why it’s important to stay inside to protect those who might be more vulnerable. People who are at most risk for severe illness are the elderly and those who have health conditions including:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • A weakened immune system

The CDC has guidelines for what to do if you are at higher risk.

If you feel sick, stay home.

Most people with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and will not require medical care.

  • Do not leave your home except to get medical care if symptoms become severe.
  • Do not go to school or to work.
  • Do not take public transportation. Do not use ride shares or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from others in your home, as much as possible. Stay in a different room. Use a separate bathroom if available. If you share a bathroom, disinfect frequently touched surfaces after each use.
  • Wear a face mask if available when you need to be in areas with others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hands to cover your sneeze or cough. Throw out tissues and wash your hands afterward.
  • Clean surfaces that are frequently touched, such as counters, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures and phones. Clean them after each use or at least once every day. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Do not share personal household items, such as glasses, cups, eating utensils and towels.
  • Do not have visitors come to your home.

The CDC has comprehensive guidelines on what to do if you are sick and staying at home.

Keep checking back here and review the Health Department’s website. More information, as well as data on public health milestones, can be found here.

For real-time updates, text “COVID” to 692-692. Messages and data rates may apply.

Visit nyc.gov/coronavirus for additional resources and information.

If you need a provider, NYC Health and Hospitals provides care to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, insurance status or ability to pay. Call 844-NYC-4NYC (844-692-4692) or 311.

The COVID-19 diagnostic test is safe, free, and easy. A nasal swab, oral swab or saliva sample may be used. All New Yorkers should get tested.

You will not be asked about immigration status. COVID-19 testing and care services are not a public benefit under the public charge rule

To get tested, find a testing site near you.

You can support NYC’s restaurants but make sure you do it safely! If you feel sick, stay home.

On Monday, December 14th, indoor dining was suspended in all New York City restaurants. Takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining will be allowed to continue.

If you do decide to dine outdoors at a restaurant, be sure you:

Limit your time waiting. Make a reservation in advance, look at the menu online before you go, or order while waiting for your table. Doing so will minimize your chance for exposure.

Wear a face covering at all times when you are not eating or drinking. Remember that you can spread COVID-19 even if you do not have symptoms. Wearing a face covering protects the people around you.

Keep your distance! Stay at least 6 feet away from diners not in your party and from restaurant staff, as much as possible. Be mindful of maintaining distance when waiting to be seated or to use the restroom.

Practice healthy hand hygiene. Use hand sanitizer when entering, just before eating and after leaving the restaurant. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when using the restroom.

Traveling or gathering with anyone outside of your immediate household is strongly discouraged at this time. During this holiday season, it is especially important to take as many precautions if you are still considering traveling or socializing.

When you travel you are putting yourself, your family, and your communities at risk. If you must travel, please take precautions, plan strategically, and be prepared to quarantine. Consider a virtual family party, socially distanced and outdoor activities, or gathering only with immediate household members this year.

More information on traveling during the holidays can be found here.  

A vaccine will likely not be available to the public until sometime in the spring of 2021. When a vaccine is made available, those who will be prioritized for early vaccinations will include nursing home residents, people at high risk of infection, and essential workers. Even once you do get vaccinated, you will still need to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

Ongoing trials of COVID-19 vaccines have reported mostly mild or moderate symptoms after vaccination, including fever, body aches and soreness at the injection site. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.

Make sure you’re getting your information from trusted and accurate sources. All the information included in this guide was sourced from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the New York Times.

Please support your friends, neighbors and colleagues by proactively sharing these messages and countering misinformation. If you have additional questions, you can contact us or visit the trusted information sources above.