COVID-19: General Information
Basic information, commonly asked questions, and popular resources for COVID-19.
On this page:
Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Most patients experience relatively mild symptoms and can recuperate at home, but others, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, may experience more severe respiratory illness. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.
The virus appears to spread in similar ways to influenza (flu) and the common cold. This may include spreading through:
- Respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes
The virus can spread from person-to-person. It is possible that people infected with COVID-19 may be infectious before showing symptoms. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic/the sickest. Find out more about how COVID-19 spreads.
Simple steps to reduce the spread
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay home while you're sick and avoid close contact with others
Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent the spread of COVID‑19.
Wear a cloth face covering when in public
The Governor’s order requires Maine people to wear cloth face coverings in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, as recommended by the U.S. CDC. The order identifies public settings as:
- Indoor spaces that are accessible to the public such as grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies and healthcare facilities
- Outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, busy parking lots, and other areas such as lines for takeout service where the public typically gathers in a smaller area
- Public transportation such as a taxi, Uber, Lyft, ride-sharing or similar service
- Ferry, bus, or train
- Any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area
Under the order, cloth face coverings are not required for children under age 2, a child in a child care setting, or for anyone who has trouble breathing or related medical conditions, or who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing. Tell your health care professional about any recent contact with people infected with COVID‑19. Your healthcare professional will work with Maine CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID‑19.
If you are sick or would like to be tested for COVID-19 but do not have a primary care provider, you can visit an urgent care or walk-in facility for care and testing. Always call before you arrive to let them know you are coming. Please reserve Emergency Rooms for patients whose symptoms require emergency care.
What if I am under-insured?
Mainers who may have lost their job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to visit www.coverme.gov to find insurance options. This website can also assist Mainers who never had insurance coverage.
Maine residents who are uninsured are entitled to receive coverage for testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 at no cost, administered through the MaineCare program. Coverage includes testing for the COVID-19 diagnosis as well as limited related services, including office visits and evaluations, telehealth triage and screening, but does not include coverage for services for treatment.
What happens when Maine CDC identifies someone with COVID-19?
- When a person is identified as having COVID-19, they are asked to self-isolate at home if they are well enough or are isolated in hospital if required. This continues until they meet criteria for release from isolation.
- When Maine CDC is notified of a positive result, an epidemiologist reaches out to the patient to conduct an investigation. Close contacts of the positive person who may have been exposed are identified and contacted. These individuals are instructed to quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Self-quarantine means that you need to separate yourself from others because you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus but are not currently symptomatic. Individuals asked to quarantine should do so for 14 days from their last exposure to the individual with COVID-19. Self-isolation means that you need to separate yourself from others because you either 1) you are infected with the COVID-19 virus and you had a positive PCR test for COVID-19; or, 2) you are probably infected because you are a close contact of a confirmed case and have symptoms, although you have not been tested. The length of time an individual self-isolates depends on the course of their illness.
For both self-quarantine and self-isolation:
- Stay home.
- You cannot go to public places even for essential reasons, including grocery stores. Plan to have enough food available or arrange to have it delivered to you to complete your quarantine/isolation.
- Do not have visitors in your home.
- Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
During self-quarantine, you can have contact with other members of your household. During self-isolation, you should avoid having contact with other members of your household as much as possible.
How can a person be released from isolation at home?
People who test positive or people who Maine CDC ask to self isolate should do so until:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
- At least 1 day (24 hrs) has passed since recovery (no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications), AND
- Improvement in symptoms.
All close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 must stay home (self-quarantine) for 14 days from the time of their last exposure.
U.S. CDC provides specific release from isolation guidance for healthcare workers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Read more about isolation for healthcare providers.
Full list of Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Tips for Safely Engaging in Outdoor Exercise Activities
COVID‑19 Factsheet (PDF): Acoli | عربي | Français | Kreyòl Ayisyen | ខ្មែរ | Ikirundi | Lingala | Português | Soomaali | Español | Kiswahili | Tiếng Việt
Stop the Spread of Germs Factsheet (PDF): عربي | فارسی | Français | پښتو | pусский | Español | Kiswahili | Українська
Read and Listen to Translated Maine COVID‑19 News Updates: عربي | >فارسی | Français | ខ្មែរ | پښتو | pусский | Lingala | Soomaali | Español | Kiswahili | Tiếng Việt
COVID-19 Resources in American Sign Language (YouTube)
Ending COVID‐19 Isolation in Non‐Healthcare Settings (PDF) عربي | Français | Português | Soomaali | Español
Ending Quarantine and Return to Work if You Are Exposed to a COVID‐19 Case (PDF) عربي | Français | Português | Soomaali | Español
What Happens if I Have Contact with a COVID-19 Case? (PDF)
When Maine CDC May Call About COVID-19 (PDF) عربي | Français | Português | Soomaali | Español
Mental Health Resources During COVID-19 (PDF)
What Is Isolation? (PDF)
What Is Quarantine? (PDF)
COVID-19 Testing Coverage for Uninsured Individuals (PDF): العربية | ភាសាខ្មែរ | français | íkiRǔndi | lingála | português | español | af Soomaali | tiếng việt
Standing Order for COVID-19 Testing (PDF)
Standing Order FAQs for COVID-19 Testing (PDF)
Interpreting a Negative COVID-19 Test Result (PDF)
I think I have COVID-19 but do not have a healthcare provider. What should I do? (PDF)
FDA Coronavirus Testing Basics (PDF)