COVID-19 (coronavirus 19) is a disease that attacks your respiratory system and lungs. It may also affect other areas of your body.

If you have COVID-19, it can feel like a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. The virus can spread quickly, even among people who have no symptoms. Most people with COVID-19 have minor or moderate symptoms and can recover on their own, but some people can become very sick.

COVID-19 is still around and poses a risk to New Yorkers. You are at most risk for severe illness if you have health conditions, including:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • A weakened immune system
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

An infection can result in death, but that is rare.

Learn more about COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You should also take the same precautions that you would during cold and flu season.


  • Stay home if you are sick. If you’re not feeling any better after 3 to 4 days, contact your health care provider.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • 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.
  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Consider telecommuting, biking, or walking to work if possible.
  • Consider staggering working hours. For example, instead of 9 AM to 5 PM, change some work hours to 10 AM to 6 PM or 8 AM to 4 PM.


  • Touch your face with unwashed hands.
  • Shake hands. Instead, wave.
  • Go to the emergency room or other places to seek health care if you are not severely ill.
  • Visit family or friends who are elderly or have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues if you feel sick.

Workplace Safety

Employers can reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in their workplace by following these tips:

  • Reduce exposure through staggered and flexible schedules, and virtual meetings and events instead of in-person activities
  • Encourage employees to get tested for COVID-19
  • Remind employees to stay home if they are sick or test positive
  • Require masks at all times
  • Help employees stay distanced from each other and the public while working
  • Promote COVID-19 vaccination

The virus is most likely to spread to people who are within about 6 feet of an infected person. The virus is in droplets that are sprayed when a person coughs or sneezes, and possibly when they talk. Staying 6 feet away helps protect you from that spray.

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

Scientists believe that people who have no symptoms can spread the virus. However, you are probably more likely to spread the virus to others if you have symptoms like coughing or sore throat.

Risk of Exposure

You are considered in close contact for exposure if you:

  • Are about 6 feet from an infected person for a long time. For example, sitting within 6 feet of a patient in a healthcare waiting area.
  • Have direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. For example, being coughed on or touching used tissues with a bare hand.

Get tested as soon as possible if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Spent at least 10 minutes within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19
  • Just returned from a state with a high level of COVID-19
  • Recently went to a large indoor gathering of 10 or more people


There is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, play a major role in spreading COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be spread only from person to person.

The CDC is aware of a small number of pets becoming sick with COVID-19, including both cats and dogs. Only a few of the animals who tested positive showed signs of illness, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Until more is known about transmission, the CDC recommends that people with symptoms restrict contact with their pets.

Learn more about COVID-19 and animals.

If you are sick, restrict contact with your pets and have another member of your household care for your animals.

Face masks are required at public hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes run by NYC Health + Hospitals. The City does not require face coverings or masks in other public places. In some cases, City Agencies require face coverings for their employees in some situations. Learn about face covering rules for City workers.

Businesses, workplaces, and other private establishments are allowed to require them for employees or customers.

Who Should Wear a Face Covering

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recommends you wear a high-quality mask:

This is especially important if you are at greater risk.

People at high-risk include those who:

  • Are 65 or older
  • Have an underlying medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19
  • Care for someone who is sick
  • Are in prolonged close contact with non-household members while indoors (such as people who regularly work in person with the members of the public)

Choosing a Face Covering

  • Use a face covering with two or three layers of material to better prevent unfiltered air from passing through.
  • Use face coverings made of tightly-woven fabric (fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source). Face coverings should be made of breathable fabric (like cotton), and not leather, plastic, or other materials that make it hard to breathe.
  • Don't use a face covering with an exhalation valve as it allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape.

For New Yorkers at greater risk, consider higher-grade masks, such as a KN95 mask, which is similar in design and function to N95 masks used by healthcare workers.

Wearing a Face Covering

Make sure the face covering fits snugly against the sides of the face and fully covers both the nose and mouth, without slipping. Face coverings that fit loosely allow respiratory droplets to enter and leak out.

Tips to help you ensure a snug fit:

  • Wear a cloth face covering over a disposable mask.
  • Wear a face covering with a nose wire.
  • Wear a face mask fitter or brace.
  • Knot the ear loops and fold or tuck extra material.

Consider wearing two face coverings at once. This may better protect you and others by adding layers and helping ensure a snug fit. If you decide to wear two face coverings, wear a cloth face covering over a disposable mask. Do not wear two disposable masks or a face covering over a higher-grade mask like a KN95, KF94, or N95.

Face Coverings at Home

Wear a face covering at home:

  • If you live with others and are sick, recently tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 (unless you are alone in a separate room). You should also wear a mask when around pets because people can spread COVID-19 to their pets.
  • If someone else in your household is sick, recently tested positive for COVID-19, or was recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 (unless you are in a separate room from them).

You should also consider wearing a mask around visitors if you or any visitors are unvaccinated or at high risk for severe COVID-19. You should ask your visitors to wear masks, too. 

Face Covering Care

Wash cloth face coverings daily by hand or machine using detergent. Wear only when dry.

Paper face coverings are reusable until they become damaged, dirty, or wet.

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some people do not have any symptoms. Most people will have mild to moderate symptoms and recover on their own.

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath (trouble breathing)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Older adults may be confused or disoriented and fall down.

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.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested now – regardless of your age, chronic conditions, or job – and then stay home.

Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms and they do not improve in 3 to 4 days:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms

If you can't get in contact with or don't have a health care provider, visit the Find a Doctor page.

Learn more about what to do if you are sick.


Oral antiviral pills such as Paxlovid are effective at reducing severe outcomes, like hospitalization and death. They are available for those who test positive for COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms. Treatments are prioritized for those who have tested positive and are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

  • Agency: NYC Health + Hospitals
  • Division: COVID Hotline
  • Phone Number: (212) 268-4319
  • Business Hours: Daily: 9 AM - 5 PM


If you have respiratory virus symptoms, the CDC recommends you stay home and away from others.

You can go back to your normal activities if, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

  • Your symptoms are getting better overall
  • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medicine)

When you return to your normal activities, take added precaution over the next 5 days. This includes masks, physical distancing, or testing. If you start to feel worse or develop a fever, stay home and away from others again.


Learn more about when and how to self-isolate.

By Phone

  • Agency: NYC Health + Hospitals
  • Division: COVID Hotline
  • Phone Number: (212) 268-4319
  • Business Hours: Daily: 9 AM - 5 PM

Most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, but some do not. "Long COVID" refers to health problems that last more than four weeks after COVID infection. 

Common symptoms of Long COVID are: 

  • Tiredness or fatigue 
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”) 
  • Headache 
  • Loss of smell or taste 
  • Dizziness on standing 
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations) 
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Cough
  • Joint or muscle pain 
  • Depression or anxiety 
  • Fever 
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities 
  • Chest pain 

Learn more about Long COVID and care options.

Long COVID AfterCare Program

NYC Health + Hospitals offers the AfterCare program for patients with Long COVID. If you would like medical care for Long COVID, you should contact your medical provider. 

Learn more about the Long COVID Aftercare program.

If you don’t have a medical provider, or if you want more information about the AfterCare program, you can get assistance by phone. Press 0 to get information on the Long COVID AfterCare program.

  • Agency: NYC Health + Hospitals
  • Division: COVID Hotline
  • Phone Number: (212) 268-4319
  • Business Hours: Daily: 9 AM - 5 PM

COVID-19 Centers of Excellence

NYC Health and Hospital’s Community Health Centers are dedicated to those recovering from COVID-19. They offer a wide range of services to keep families healthy. Short and long-term follow-up care for includes:

  • COVID-19 testing
  • Lung care and supplemental oxygen
  • Heart care
  • Diagnostic radiology services
  • Mental health services for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychological distress
  • Rooms with special technology to safely isolate patients who may have COVID-19 and are being tested

The locations are:

  • Tremont Community Health Center
    1920 Webster Avenue
    Bronx, NY
    • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 8:30 AM - 7 PM
    • Tuesday and Friday: 8:30 AM - 5 PM
    • Saturday: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Gotham Health, Broadway
    815 Broadway
    Brooklyn, NY 11206
    • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 8:30 AM – 7 PM
    • Tuesday and Friday: 8:30 AM – 5 PM
    • Saturday: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Gotham Health, Roosevelt
    37-50 72 Street
    Jackson Heights, NY
    • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 8:30 AM - 7 PM
    • Tuesday and Friday: 8:30 AM - 5 PM
    • Saturday: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Learn more about COVID-19 Centers of Excellence.

You can schedule an appointment by phone.

  • Agency: NYC Health + Hospitals
  • Phone Number: (844) 692-4692
  • Business Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a health condition linked to COVID-19. Most children have a fever lasting several days, along with other symptoms, including:

  • Irritability or sluggishness
  • Abdominal pain without another explanation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis, or red or pink eyes
  • Enlarged gland on one side of the neck
  • Red, cracked lips or red tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red

If your child is sick and has had a continued fever, call your doctor immediately. Getting treatment early is critical to preventing long-term complications from MIS-C.

If you do not have a doctor, go to the Find a Doctor page to learn how to connect with an NYC Health + Hospitals clinician.

Pregnancy, Newborns, and Breastfeeding

You can get information about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, newborn babies, and breastfeeding. You can also learn about ways to protect your and your baby’s health before, during, and after birth.

Learn about COVID-19 and pregnancy, breastfeeding, and newborns.

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