1. What do we know about COVID-19 variants?

Variants of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are expected. Viruses change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. CDC and other public health organizations monitor SARS-CoV-2 variants in the United States and globally.

Some variants may spread more easily than others, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Even if a variant causes less severe illness, an increase in the overall number of cases could cause an increase in hospitalizations, which could put more strain on healthcare resources and potentially lead to more deaths.

To find the latest updates about variants being monitored, variants of interest, variants of concern, and variants of high consequence, visit the CDC website.

  1. Who gets sick from the COVID-19 variants?
  1. Is the COVID-19 vaccine working if people are still getting sick with COVID-19?
  1. What should I do to protect myself and loved ones from COVID-19, including variants?
  1. Will routine COVID-19 testing tell me what variant I have?
  1. Why can’t Public Health tell me which variant I have?
  1. What is Public Health doing to track variants in Maricopa County?


  1. I took a home test for COVID-19 and it came back positive. What should I do next?
  • Review CDC isolation guidance to determine how long you need to isolate at home for and CDC exposure guidance for any persons you may have had close contact with recently.
  • For any questions regarding your illness or test result, please contact your healthcare/primary care provider.
  • If you are a K-12 student or staff member, please inform your school of your test result for further guidance.
  1. What is the difference between antibody (or serology) tests and diagnostic tests?
  1. Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
  1. What options are there for COVID-19 diagnostic testing?
  1. Are antibody tests or serology (blood) tests OK to use for diagnostic testing?
  1. What is the likelihood of getting a false positive COVID-19 PCR test result?

Infected Individuals and Isolation

If you have tested positive, please visit the COVID Positive section to find out what you should do next.

Not sure how long you should isolate once you’ve tested positive? Use the CDC Isolation Calculator to find out.

Close Contacts and Quarantine

  1. What does it mean to be a 'close contact' of someone infected with COVID-19?

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) follow CDC guidelines and define a close contact of a COVID-19 case as being:

  • You were within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19, regardless of whether masks were worn, for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before symptoms began (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated, OR;
  • You had physical contact with a person with COVID-19 while they were infectious.
    • Exception: In the K-12 school setting, a student who was within 3-6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact if both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting masks at all times.
    • This exception does not apply to teachers, staff or other adults in the classroom setting.
      *Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

Masks and Other Prevention Tools

  1. When should I wear a face mask?

Visit the CDC website for the latest updates on mask recommendations. You should follow CDC’s recommendations based on our current COVID-19 Community Level.

Layered prevention strategies — like staying up to date on vaccines and wearing masks — can help prevent severe illness and reduce the potential for strain on the healthcare system. Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.

  1. Should I wear a mask if I was vaccinated?
  1. Do masks actually prevent the spread of COVID-19?


For information about disease prevention and COVID-19 in schools, visit our schools page.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Questions about vaccine locations, vaccine safety, and more? See the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.


  1. What is the coronavirus disease or COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

Visit the CDC’s How COVID-19 Spreads page to learn how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself.

  1. What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
  1. Who is at risk for having severe disease related to COVID-19?
  1. What is the treatment for COVID-19?
  1. Why is getting a flu shot important?
  1. Can pets spread COVID-19 to people?
  1. How does COVID-19 affect children?

Still Have Questions?

If you have questions, please submit your question here or call us at 602-506-6767.