COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Information is current as of 1/12/2024 and is subject to change.

View a downloadable version of the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

Text highlighted in yellow indicates most recently updated information.

About COVID-19

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and when do they appear? (Updated 12/16/2020)

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • 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

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips, face, or unpigmented skin (gums, around the eyes, nail beds)

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Can a person spread the COVID-19 virus even if they have no symptoms? (Updated 9/17/2021)

  • Some people infected with COVID-19 may be infectious before showing symptoms.  They can also be infectious and not show any symptoms (asymptomatic spread).

How long can someone test positive for COVID-19 after being released from isolation? (Updated 8/12/2022)

What is the medical treatment for people affected by COVID-19? (Updated 1/12/2024)

  • Talk to a health care provider about what treatment options may be right for you. They can give you a prescription.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread from contaminated surfaces? (Updated 4/27/2023)

  • Spread may sometimes happen through contact with contaminated surfaces, but this route is less likely. Spread from droplets when peoples cough, sneeze, sing, or talk is more likely.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.  Wash your hands frequently.

Where can I find information about COVID-19 variants in the United States? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Find information on COVID-19 variants in the United States here.

Prevention and Vaccines

When should I wear a face covering? (Updated 9/5/2023)

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine in Maine? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Call a health care provider or local pharmacy to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you. You can also visit this locator.

How do I know if I am up to date on COVID-19 vaccine? (Updated 4/27/2023)

Where can I get my child vaccinated? (Updated 9/5/2023)

Will I have to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • You may be charged for a COVID-19 vaccine. They may charge you directly or bill your insurance.
  • If you are uninsured or underinsured, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about options that might be available to you. You can also visit a local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

Where can I report a business that is not enforcing COVID-19 prevention recommendations? (12/10/2021)

  • Please contact the management of the business with concerns about COVID-19 prevention.
  • If you believe the situation poses a public health risk, contact your local health officer.

Where can I find information on COVID-19 levels in my area? (9/5/2023)

  • Find US CDC’s COVID-19 Hospital Admission Levels here.
  • You can find COVID-19 wastewater data in Maine on the BioBot, WastewaterSCAN, and U.S. CDC data dashboards.

Are there any cleaning recommendations to prevent COVID-19? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Find cleaning recommendations here.


Where can I find a COVID-19 test in Maine? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Many health care providers and pharmacies offer testing. Call ahead to ask if testing is available before visiting.
  • Many insurance companies offer reimbursements when you purchase at-home COVID-19 tests. Check with your insurance company to find out about their policy.
  • Find updated guidance for at-home, self-collected tests for COVID-19 here

Do I need to report my at-home, self-collected COVID-19 test result to Maine CDC? (Updated 1/24/2022)

  • You do not need to call Maine CDC to report your positive test result. Maine CDC does not collect results from at-home, self-collection tests.
  • For questions about what to do after a positive test, call your health care provider or Maine 211.

Where can I find information on updated expiration dates for at-home COVID-19 tests? (Updated 12/5/2022)

  • Some at-home COVID-19 tests have extended expiration dates. To check the current expiration date of your at-home COVID-19 test, click here.
  • If your at-home COVID-19 tests are expired based on the information from this website, do not use the tests and dispose of them.

If you are exposed to COVID-19

What should I do if I am exposed to someone with COVID-19? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19:
    • Wear a high-quality face mask when around others at home and indoors in public for 10 days from your last exposure. During this time, monitor yourself for symptoms. You do not need to quarantine.
    • Get tested on day 6. If you test negative, continue monitoring for symptoms and masking through day 10. If you test positive, isolate immediately. Find more information here.
      • If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, please find specific guidance for post-exposure testing here.
  • If you are a health care worker, work with your employer to determine if you need to stay out of work based on this guidance.

Do I have to stay out of work if I live with a COVID-positive person? (Health care workers) (Updated 4/27/2023)

  • Work with your employer using this guidance to find out what you should do.

Isolation and Treatment (for people who have COVID-19)

What is isolation? (Updated 8/12/2022)

  • Isolation separates people with COVID-19 from those without COVID-19. Isolating means you should stay at home and stay away from others in your home as much as possible.

How do I know if I need to isolate? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Isolate immediately if you have COVID-19. This includes:
    • If you test positive on a COVID-19 viral test (molecular or antigen, including at-home antigen tests)
    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, including while you are waiting for test results.

I tested positive for COVID-19. Now what should I do? (Updated 1/12/2024)

  • Isolate as soon as:
    • You find out about your positive test result OR
    • You start experiencing symptoms (whichever is sooner).
  • Early treatment can help prevent severe disease. Even if your symptoms are mild, talk with a health care provider to see if COVID-19 treatment is right for you. Find more information here.
  • If you are a health care worker, contact your employer. They will help you figure out when you can leave isolation and return to work using this guidance.
  • If you are not a health care worker, stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home as much as possible. Follow this guidance.

Where can I find information on getting COVID-19 treatment (Paxlovid, etc.)? (Updated 1/12/2024)

  • Talk to a health care provider for information on COVID-19 treatment. Find more information here.

How do I isolate? (Updated 8/12/2022)

  • Stay home and separate from others. As much as possible, stay in a specific “sick room” or area of the house. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • If you must be around others in your home, wear a well-fitting face mask at all times when around others.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately. You can leave isolation for emergency and necessary medical care. Let them know that you have COVID-19, if possible.
  • Do not share personal household items, like cups, towels, or utensils.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.

When can I leave isolation? (not a health care worker) (Updated 4/27/2023)

  • This guidance is for people who are not health care workers.
  • Follow this guidance on when to leave isolation..

When can I leave isolation? (health care worker) (Updated 12/29/2021)

  • This guidance is for people who are health care workers.
  • Work with your employer to figure out when you can return to work. Use this guidance.

How long do I need to wear a mask after leaving isolation? (Updated 4/27/2023)

What should I do if I already had COVID-19 within 90 days and became symptomatic again? (Updated 8/12/2022)

  • If you start to feel symptoms again during the 90-days following your first positive result, isolate immediately. Get an antigen test.  
    • If the test comes back positive, continue to isolate.
    • If the test comes back negative, isolate until 24 hours after symptoms resolve without fever-reducing medication.  Contact a health care provider to see if there are any other steps to take.

COVID-19 Information for Businesses, Schools, Childcare Facilities, and Daily Life

Where can I find information about the COVID-19 response in schools? (Updated 8/12/2022)

  • Find updated K-12 school guidance here.

What do I need to do if one of my employees tests positive for COVID-19? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • The employee needs to immediately isolate at home.
  • Disinfect the workplace around the employee’s workstation. Make sure to clean high-touch shared surfaces.
  • In most cases, closing the facility is not necessary. Remain open as long as you can maintain staffing needs while employees isolate appropriately.
    • Have a policy in place to support employees who must isolate or care for sick family members.
  • If the employee is a health care worker, use this guidance to determine isolation guidance for your employee.

If one of my employees tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to report it to Maine CDC? (Updated 4/27/2023)

  • The places and people required to report any reportable disease are listed on the bottom of the Notifiable Diseases and Conditions List.
  • If you do not fall into one of these categories, you are not required to report COVID-19 cases to Maine CDC.

I run a childcare facility. What do I need to do if a staff member, child, or parent tests positive for COVID-19? (Updated 4/27/2023)

I need help connecting with health programs and resources in Maine. How can I connect with these resources? (Updated 1/10/2023)

  • Maine DHHS Community Care Program helps Mainers connect to health programs, social services, and other resources across the state. This program is for everyone and is designed to help people who may experience barriers in accessing resources that they are eligible for.
  • Fill out this referral form to get started.
  • Note: This program does not provide access to emergency resources or services. If you have an urgent medical need or emergency situation, please call a health care provider, dial 911, or dial 988 for a mental health emergency.

Where can I find resources for stress management and mental wellness? (Updated 9/5/2023)

  • Visit Strengthen ME for free stress management, resiliency, and mental wellness resources available to anyone in Maine.
  • Dial 988 if in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


Where can I find information about travel (domestic or international) if I have concerns about COVID-19? (Updated 1/12/2024)

  • Find information for travel here.

What are masking recommendations for travel? (Updated 1/12/2024)

  • Visit U.S. CDC for information on when to consider wearing a mask when traveling or using public transportation.