Coronavirus FAQ: Everything you need to know

NEW YORK (WABC) -- What's an essential activity that permits me to go outside? What kind of stores will stay open? Can I go for a walk? What if I think I'm sick?

As the tri-state area copes with the unprecedented consequences of the novel coronavirus outbreak, we all have so many questions about what to do, especially now that the "New York state on Pause" program will deepen its shutdown starting on Sunday to stem the spread of COVID-19. And New Jersey's governor said Friday that the Garden State was likely to "tighten the screws" in the same way on Saturday.

We've tried to answer some of those questions below with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state agencies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The situation is evolving, so we'll keep updating these FAQs are events change.

New York City updates
Long Island updates
New Jersey updates
Connecticut updates

What are considered "essential activities?"

You can leave your home during this period for reasons including:

Tasks vital to health and safety. These include purchasing food at grocery stores, supermarkets or picking up takeout from restaurants. You can also gather medical supplies, medication, household items, cleaning products and items needed to work from home now that everyone but workers "essential" to the COCID-19 response has to in New York state

Outdoor activity is allowed -- you can go for a walk or a jog, say, but residents must comply with social distancing requirements of keeping at least six feet between you and another person

Caring for a family member or a pet

Performing work for an essential business

What kind of jobs are considered essential?

They includes working in a health care, infrastructure and emergency responder capacities in places or roles such as:
Hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical, biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care services providers, mental health providers, ancillary healthcare services and veterinary facilities that care for animals
Airports, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems
Dispatchers, emergency responders, court personnel, law enforcement personnel

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What is considered an "essential business?"'

Health care
Infrastructure (utilities, transportation, etc)
Grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores
Liquor stores
Hardware stores
Farming, livestock and fishing
Restaurants -- only for delivery or take out
Businesses that delivery or ship food or groceries
Gas stations, auto supply and repair facilities
Manufacturing (food processing, paper products, etc)
Trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal
Mass transit
Mail and shipping services
Laundromats/dry cleaning (NYC Mayor de Blasio said Friday he was deliberating about this category)
Building cleaning and maintenance
Auto repair
Warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
Funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
Storage for essential businesses
Animal shelters or animal care or management
Newspapers, television, radio and other media
Banks and financial institutions

Homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
Food banks
Mailing and shipping businesses
Home care for seniors, adults and kids
Legal and accounting services
Childcare -- must be groups of 12 or fewer
Liquor stores

If I become unemployed during the crisis, what should I do?

The federal government enacted the Familes First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes extended unemployment benefits. Check your state's website for information on how to apply for unemployment insurance.

New York Department of Labor
New Jersey Department of Labor
Connecticut Department of Labor

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What is considered 'essential travel?'

Travel related to essential activities
Travel to care for elderly, children, minors, those with disabilities or other "vulnerable" people
Travel to schools or universities to receive meals
Travel to home residence from an outside area
Travel required by law or court order

Can I go outside?

These are some simple ways you can protect you and your family from COVID-19 while enjoying the outdoors.

Everyone must:
Avoid close contact with people, even when outside. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Avoid games and activities that require close contact.
Avoid frequently touched surfaces and objects. This includes playground equipment like slides and swings.
Don't share equipment such as bicycles, helmets, balls or frisbees.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard the tissue in a closed container.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol: When you return indoors,
before and after eating, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after touching surfaces or items that may be contaminated.

If you are sick or had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days:
You should stay home.
You may enjoy spending time in your own backyard or other personal outdoor space but should not go into public outdoor spaces.

Can I visit privately with friends or family?

The answer is no. Gatherings of any kind or size that are not essential are no longer allowed in New York. It's all about social distancing. And Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has condemned underground parties that flout the recommendations. This is not the time to socialize or visit relatives. Stay home and "flatten the curve.

Is mass transit running?

Yes, trains, buses and subways are running across the region, but most are running on modified schedules. Links below for the latest information.

MTA Subways and Buses
Long Island Rail Road


Do I need a plan?

Create plans for school, work, and home.

Make a list of people and organizations who can help if you become sick. Consider: family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, healthcare services, and other resources like mental health services.
Join a neighborhood website or social media page to stay connected to neighbors, information, and resources.
Plan ways to care for family members at risk for serious complications, such as older people and people with chronic health conditions.

Do I need to buy a lot of food and supplies?

There is no But it's a good idea to pick up a few extra items each time you go to the market or pharmacy. That way, you're prepared and can avoid crowds.
Pick up some extra foods like canned goods, dry pasta, and peanut butter.
Have soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen on hand.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like:
Trouble breathing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

How do I prevent coronavirus?

Everyone should:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before you eat.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard it in a closed container.
Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.

For people who are sick:
Stay home.
If you have a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines, such as acetaminophen.
Keep sick household members away from others. If you have a separate room that is best.
Use soap and water, a bleach and water solution, or EPA-approved household products. You can make your own cleanser with a mixture of 1 cup of liquid unscented chlorine bleach in 5 gallons of water.
Avoid sharing personal items.
Anyone at high risk for complications should talk to their healthcare provider for more information.

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Where is coronavirus today?


How coronavirus is leaving ghost towns in its path
Coronavirus prevention: how clean are your hands?
Social distancing: What is it and how does it stop the spread of coronavirus?
Coronavirus closures and cancelations
Coronavirus tips: What Americans need to know
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