George Mason University

Coronavirus: FAQs about COVID-19

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, aches and pains, and a sore throat. A few people have reported diarrhea, nausea, or a runny nose. Symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. 

If you have symptoms and think you've been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider for guidance.

If you develop emergency warning symptoms* for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Call your health care provider about severe symptoms, or call 911 for a medical emergency.

Who's at risk for infection?

Currently, the immediate risk of being exposed is low for most Americans, but as the disease spreads, this could change.

People with weakened immune systems, older people, those with chronic medical conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) or those with a respiratory illness might have a higher chance of contracting COVID-19 and additional trouble recovering.

The latest updates on risk factors are available on the CDC’s Coronavirus site

Who should I notify at Mason if I feel ill?

Mason has set up notification guidelines for students, faculty and staff, and contracters (PDF).

These guidelines will tell you what to do if:

  • You have mild symptoms.
  • Your symptoms are more serious.
  • You are awating test results.
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19. 
What if I've tested positive for COVID-19 or had contact with someone who has?

Mason has set up guidelines for members of our community who have tested positive or been in contact with someone who has (PDF).

Find guidance on:

  • Returning to campus
  • Getting tested
  • Where to go for care.
Do I need to wear a mask?

Members of the public who are not ill or not symptomatic (asymptomatic) can wear cloth masks/bandanas to help prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others. Continue to practice social distancing even if wearing a cloth mask/bandanna. 

If you are asymptomatic, you do NOT need to wear a surgical or N95 mask. Use of these masks should be limited to patients to prevent transmission and to health care staff who are interacting with sick individuals at close range. The rush of individuals to purchase masks has decreased the supply available to the medical community, increasing the risk of infection for health care workers.

Mason does not encourage the use of respiratory protection and does not provide masks to students unless they're being cared for at Student Health Services, where they might get one to prevent the spread of an illness among other patients.

What are the most effective methods to clean surfaces?

While COVID-19 is commonly transmitted through respiratory droplets, it can also be picked up through contact with contaminated inanimate objects. The virus might remain viable on surfaces for hours or days.

Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces with soap and water, followed by disinfection with an EPA-registered disinfectant, is a best-practice measure to prevent transmission of any viral respiratory illness in households and community settings.

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Use unexpired diluted household bleach solutions (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water), alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
  • Follow product directions.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas such as tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, counters, desks, toilets, and sinks.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
What is the difference between self-isolation and quarantine?

Self-isolation is the precaution recommended to people who are sick or exhibit coronavirus symptoms.

Quarantine is the precaution that is taken if a healthy person may have been in contact with some who is sick with the coronavirus.

If you live with someone who has been directed to self-isolate, you should quarantine in the same residence for 14 days with the person in self-isolation.

If you live with someone who has been instructed to quarantine, you may go about your business; however, you and the person who is quarantined should monitor  yourselves for signs of illness and remain home if you become ill.