Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus

Health and Wellness

According to the CDC, novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronavirus that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Read more from the CDC about COVID-19 Symptoms.

Reviewed Aug. 27,2021.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). 

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Reviewed Aug. 27,2021.

If you are sick, stay home.

Practice good hygiene.

  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Monitor your symptoms closely. Take your temperature daily.

Stay home from school and work until at least 72 hours after your fever ends, without the use of fever-reducing medications. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around people who have compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions or are age 60 and older.

Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection — such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath — please take the steps listed below:

First: Call your health provider in advance. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic. Telemedicine may also be available, enabling you to consult a provider from home.

  • Students on the UM campus may contact Curry Health Center at 406-243-2122.
  • Students who have a primary health care provider should contact that doctor.
  • Faculty, other academic personnel and staff should contact their primary care provider.
Reviewed Aug. 27,2021

If you had close contact* with a person with confirmed COVID-19, but you do not have any symptoms (fever, coughing, shortness of breath):

 If you are fully vaccinated:

  • You will be asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, but are not required to quarantine unless symptoms develop. Depending on testing availability, an MCCHD-verified close contact can seek a COVID test three to five days after exposure.**

If you are partially or unvaccinated:

  • You will be given orders to quarantine by MCCHD for up to 14 days, depending on the details of your exposure. If testing is available, individuals in quarantine may be able to be released from quarantine with a negative COVID test taken after seven days.**

** Note that testing availability varies and testing may not be available for asymptomatic individuals.

According to Missoula City-County Health Department:

  • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. These can be symptoms of other respiratory illnesses as well as COVID-19.
  • If you are in a high-risk category, and have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider for advice. If you are at risk for serious illness, your health care provider may arrange a test for COVID-19.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Avoid sharing personal household items. Clean your hands often. Clean all high-touch surfaces like doorknobs often.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay home and avoid others for 72 hours after your fever goes down and symptoms get better.
  • Visiting the Missoula City-County Health Department Testing and Screening Resources website for information on testing.
Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.

Testing is typically conducted at a health care provider’s office or at the Missoula City-County Health Department testing site. Always call ahead before visiting your health care provider or testing site.

UM students who have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who tested positive or believe they have COVID-19 symptoms should call Curry Health Center at 406-243-2122. 

Curry Health Center is using a point-of-care COVID test that we run in our lab. Curry Health Center coordinates all COVID testing services with ongoing guidance from the local health department.

At this time, Curry Health Center is prioritizing the testing of symptomatic students. Employees should contact their own health care provider or the health department for testing. If you have symptoms and would like to schedule a test at the county testing facility, call 406-258-INFO and select Option 2 to speak to a nurse. Tests are free and by appointment only. 

Updated Aug. 27, 2021.

Your health care provider will contact you to notify you of your test results. That information is not shared with UM. If you test positive, your results will be provided to the Missoula City-County Health Department.

Updated Aug. 27, 2021.

All contact tracing is handled by employees of the Missoula City-County Health Department. UM cooperates with the health department to provide relevant information, but the University does not conduct its own contact tracing. UM students who are participating in contact tracing as part of their academic experience are hired and employed by the health department. 

Per CDC guidelines, all efforts to locate and communicate with COVID-19 patients and close contacts must be carried out in a manner that preserves the confidentiality and privacy of all involved. This includes never revealing the name of the client to a close contact unless permission has been given (preferably in writing), and not giving confidential information to third parties (e.g., roommates, neighbors, family members).

Updated Aug. 27, 2021.

If you are sick, stay home. You should take steps you normally would when sick, including focusing on caring for your health, contacting your health care provider if you feel you need and don’t attend social events. 

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.

People with preexisting health conditions are at higher risk to develop complications from a COVID-19 infection. People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and stay away from people as much as possible.

People at higher risk include people:

  • More than 60 years of age.
  • With underlying health conditions, including include heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.
  • With weakened immune systems.
  • Who are pregnant.

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:

  • Stock up on supplies
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick
  • Limit close contact and wash your hands often
  • Avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel

If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. 

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.

The novel coronavirus outbreak presents stress and worry for members of our UM community. This is a critically important time for all of us to reinforce a community of care on our campus and support one another.

If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to students through through Curry Health Center Counseling

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.

MCCHD has a COVID-19 website which provided information on case data, testing, vaccines and other resources.  The county also has a COVID-19 website. Local government leaders are providing regular video updates on the Missoula County YouTube channelVisit the Safer Missoula website for information about our community response.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services staffs the Nurse First Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reach it by calling 1-800-330-7847.

Missoula's Community Medical Center provides a Nurse-on-Call hotline 24 hours a day, seven days at week. Call 406-327-4770 to speak with a nurse.

If you are in need of immediate emergency assistance, call 9-1-1.

Updated Aug. 27, 2021


The best way to prevent a COVID-19 infection or illness is to be vaccinated. The Health Services Pharmacy offers free COVID-19 vaccines during regular business hours, with no appointment necessary. Beyond vaccines follow the CDC-recommended precautions to reduce your risk of exposure, including proper hand washing; covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, covering coughs and sneezes and then throwing the tissue in a trash receptacle; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021.

You can reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus by taking the same steps as you would to prevent infection from the flu and the common cold:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for a least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer, with 60-95% alcohol if water is not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately dispose of the used tissue.
Reviewed Aug. 27, 2021