COVID-19 updates, including vaccine information, for our patients and visitors Learn More

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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

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COVID-19 Vaccines

For all questions about vaccination, please see COVID-19 Vaccine Information.

Getting a COVID-19 Test at UC San Diego Health

For all questions about testing, please see COVID-19 Testing.

Getting Care at UC San Diego Health

How is UC San Diego Health keeping patients and visitors safe?

Be assured that we have strict infection-prevention protocols and systems in place — including masking, health screening protocols and physical distancing practices. Learn more about our safety measures.

Should I keep my routine appointment or scheduled procedure at UC San Diego Health? Is it safe to go to the ER?

Yes. Our hospitals and clinics have strict infection-prevention protocols and systems in place to keep patients, visitors and health care workers safe at all times. If it's time for an annual visit with your primary care provider or are overdue for a cancer screening, we encourage you to get the care you need. Early detection could save your life, or the life of someone you love.

If you have a life-threatening injury or severe illness, please go to an Emergency Department or call 911. Don't delay getting emergency care. Our ER locations in San Diego County are open 24 hours every day.

Protecting Yourself and Others from COVID-19

When do I need to wear a mask?

As of June 15, 2021, California requires face masks for:

  • Unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses
  • Everyone when indoors in K-12 schools, childcare and other youth settings
  • Health care settings (this includes all UC San Diego Health facilities)
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers
  • Public transit

See more tips on mask use, or for the latest information on requirements for face masks, please see the California Department of Public Health's guidance for face coverings.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Most people with mild symptoms and no underlying health conditions can recover at home, as they would with the flu or a cold. Others may need hospitalization for supportive care to help relieve symptoms and prevent potentially serious complications, such as respiratory failure.

UC San Diego Health offers a telemedicine clinic for those with mild and moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and care for long-term post-COVID complications.

How can I protect my mental health and manage my anxiety?

It is normal to feel anxious and unsettled during this crisis. You are not alone. Have compassion for yourself.

Free online mindfulness and compassion sessions are provided by UC San Diego’s Sanford Institute, Center for Mindfulness, and the Compassion Institute.

COVID-19 Basics

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses, like the common cold and pneumonia. Learn more about coronaviruses.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC.

Most people infected with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 have mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms, including a new fever, cough, shortness of breath or recent loss of taste or smell. For a complete and updated list, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 symptoms page.

Some people, often those with other medical complications, may develop more severe respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia.

Not everyone experiences symptoms, though. Some people could be asymptomatic. This means they are infected with the novel coronavirus, but they feel fine and have no symptoms, so they may never know they are infected. Nonetheless, these asymptomatic patients can shed and spread the virus and infect others.

How does the virus spread?

Based on what is currently known, SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person like other respiratory viruses, mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Transmission is more likely when people are close (within 6 feet) to one another and aren't masked.

Learn more about how the virus is transmitted and about community spread.

COVID-19 Resources and Other Information

What can I do if I have more concerns?

  • Appointments: If you have questions about an upcoming appointment, please call your doctor’s office.
  • Resources: You can read frequently updated COVID-19 information about UC San Diego Health care and services.
  • General questions: If you have general questions about UC San Diego Health and the pandemic, please call our Patient Experience team at 619-543-5678.
  • Videos: You can watch coronavirus videos to learn more about the disease and the issues surrounding it.
  • Emergencies: If you have a life-threatening injury or severe illness, please call 911 or go to an Emergency Department. Our ER locations in San Diego County are open 24 hours every day.

You can also find more information about COVID-19 from these websites:

For Specific Patient Populations or Conditions