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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to develop and new information is available every day. New York City has significantly increased its efforts to combat this epidemic.

All New Yorkers are urged to stay home.

Starting Sunday, March 22, every New Yorker must stay at home from work, unless they are an essential worker. Exemptions include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.

All non-essential businesses must remain closed. Bars and restaurants may provide takeout.

Also, all non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason are banned.


There are some basic facts that all New Yorkers should know to keep themselves and their communities safe. Here we break down some of the most common questions on the coronavirus.

If you’d like to join New York City’s fight against the coronavirus, please consider giving to our Epidemics Fund.

Please continue to check back for more updates as information becomes available.

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

If you have any of these symptoms, and they are not due to a preexisting health condition like asthma or emphysema, 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.

If you feel sick, stay home. Only seek healthcare if you are very sick.

Community transmission means that COVID-19 is circulating in NYC and that we should act as if we are all exposed.

All New Yorkers must monitor their health carefully at this time. Only seek health care if you are very sick. We need to make sure people with severe illness will be able to stay in a hospital or intensive care unit if they need to.

Even if you are not sick, stay home as much as you can: work from home, study from home and avoid all unnecessary interactions and events.

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, stay home. You should not seek medical care or try to get tested. By staying home, you reduce the possibility of transmission to others, including health care workers who are needed to care for the more seriously ill.

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. Stay home for at least seven days after your symptoms started.

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.

By staying home, you reduce the possibility of transmission to others, including health care workers who are needed to care for the more seriously ill.

The Health Department has clear guidelines on what to do if you are home self-monitoring.

Right now, healthy or sick, all New Yorkers must stay home unless they are essential workers or need urgent health care.

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. If you have mild or moderate symptoms, please do not seek health care. This will let New Yorkers who are more sick access the care that they need

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
  • Avoid all nonessential social interactions

You do not need to wear a face mask if you are not sick.

Face masks are only recommended if you are sick, are going to visit your doctor, or are visiting someone who is in a high risk category for coronavirus.

Please note that people may wear protective face masks for many reasons, including seasonal allergies, pollution or protecting those around them from a common cold. They should not be harassed or targeted for wearing one.

Do not hoard face masks.

Our health care providers need face masks to stay healthy and to care for the most critically ill.

The virus is spreading between people with no link to travel or to another positive case.

The virus is a new disease and we are still learning how it is spread. It looks like the virus can spread to people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) with an infected person when that person coughs or sneezes.

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.
  • 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. Stay home and keep your loved ones safe.

If you can work from home you should do so. If you cannot work from home, consider telecommuting, biking, or walking to work if possible. Consider staggering working hours. For example, instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., change some work hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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.

As of April 5, 2020, at 5:00 pm, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the following number of people are under investigation for cases of COVID-19:

 People Tested Positive in NYC
Positive64,955*

*This count does not include people with COVID-19 related illness who have not been tested.

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 seek a COVID-19 test unless you are sick and do not feel better after three to four days. A positive test will not change what a doctor tells you to do to get better. The best course of action is to stay at home.

If you have mild or moderate symptoms, do not seek health care. This will let New Yorkers who are more sick access the care that they need.

If you do have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the following precautions:

  • 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.

If you recently returned to New York from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy or Japan and you do not have symptoms, the Health Department requires that you home self-monitor. You must stay home from work or school for 14 days since the day you left one of these countries. See here for guidance on what you must do.

New York City has enacted new restrictions and guidance for limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Starting Sunday, March 22, every New Yorker must stay at home from work, unless they are an essential worker. Exemptions include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.

All non-essential businesses must remain closed. Bars and restaurants may provide takeout. Also, all non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason are banned.

New York City public schools will be closed to students and staff on Monday, March 16. Starting Tuesday, March 17, schools have moved toward a new Remote Learning Model for all school days until Spring Recess. More information can be accessed here.

Most of the information below comes from a helpful guide created by the New York Times.

Stimulus Payments

Thanks to the $2 trillion economic relief plan, many people are now able to receive $1,200 to cover losses due to COVID-19. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, people will receive an extra $500. Currently only one payment is scheduled.

Single adults with Social Security numbers and a 2019 income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400.  You can’t get this payment if someone claims you as a dependent.

You do not have to apply to get these funds. If the I.R.S. has your tax and banking information, they will transfer the money to you via direct deposit. Payments are expected to arrive by mid-April.

Unemployment

Those who are unemployed, partly unemployed or cannot work due to COVID-19 will likely be able to receive benefits. Eligible workers will get an additional $600 on top of their state benefits.

For example, if someone made made $1,100 per week in New York, she’d be eligible for the maximum state unemployment benefit of $504 per week. Under the new COVID-19 expansion, she would get an extra $600, for a total of $1,104.

Self-employed people and part-time workers are eligible for unemployment benefits, depending on their state.

Eligible workers will receive 13 weeks of benefits on top of their state benefits. The extra $600 will last for up to four months.

Student Loans

The federal government has already waived two months of payments and interest for many of its loans.

Housing

There’s a good chance you can delay your mortgage payment if the outbreak has left you short of money. For more information, visit this comprehensive guide.

Keep checking back here and review the Health Department’s website.

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.

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.