Find Answers & FAQ's

1. What to Know about Testing for COVID-19

COVID-19 tests are important tools for diagnosing COVID-19 infection. There are limitations to any test and these tests work best in diagnosing people who have symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

When & How to Get Tested

I don’t have symptoms and wasn’t exposed, should I get tested?

If you are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you are considered asymptomatic. Limited asymptomatic testing is available for free at the locations listed above. Results are available usually within 24 hours but may take longer; check with the provider.

I might have been exposed to COVID-19, should I get tested?

The CDC has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance. People who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine anymore, but do still need to take precautions and test on day 5.

What kind of test should I get?

Testing locations listed here use the recommended test, which is a nasal swab or a coughing and throat self-swab. Blood tests cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19.

How much does testing cost?

The cost for testing should be covered by most insurance plans or through government-sponsored programs.

  • For private pay patients, please contact your health care provider for cost to administer a COVID-19 test.
  • If you do not have insurance, you can receive a test at no cost through multiple testing sites. View a list of free testing sites.
Beware fake COVID-19 testing sites

Metro Health has been made aware of fake COVID-19 testing sites operating around the city. To report a suspected fake testing site, people can report to the Federal Trade Commission.

Scammers are not running the tests correctly, and their main interest is in your personal information from your ID card. So even though you might be positive for COVID, they could tell you that you tested negative. Remember that the cost-free testing sites listed on our website have been vetted and are legitimate.

Look for these signs to determine if a testing location might be a scam site:

  • There’s no logo on any of the organizer’s materials.
  • The pop-up tent is in the middle of the sidewalk or an unusual location.
  • It’s not affiliated with the storefront or building where it’s set up or any local healthcare organization or medical provider.
  • There’s an up-front cost.
  • They ask for your Social Security number.
What should I do if I suspect I'm at a fake testing site?
  • Ask what lab or medical organization they are affiliated with and then call that facility or check out their website.
  • Report fraudulent testing.

Again, we encourage you to view our list of Testing Locations for legitimate, no-cost testing locations.

Waiting for Test Results

How will I receive my test results?

If you are tested at a private clinic or by your doctor, they will provide you with results. Results are not available from the COVID Hotline or through the Testing Hotline.

What if my result isn’t back, and it has already been 5 days?

If you were tested at a doctor’s office, contact them for guidance. Otherwise, the safer course is to follow the guidance for people who tested positive (just in case). Note that shortened isolation is only for people with no symptoms or mild symptoms that are resolving by day 5, and only if the person can consistently mask in public spaces for the remaining 5 days.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about 5+5 rule. It doesn’t apply if you can’t mask, or if your symptoms are moderate or severe, or if you’re immunosuppressed. The 5+5 rule came about because most transmission occurs in the 1-2 days before people have symptoms, and in the 2-3 days after.

What should I do while waiting for test results?
  • Act as if you were told you have a positive test. This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other people.
  • Stay at home in a specific room away from other people; use a separate bathroom, if possible. Avoid sharing personal items like dishes, glasses, food, towels and bedding. People you live with should also stay home, if possible.
  • Wear a mask around other people, including people inside your home. Wash your mask daily with hot water and soap. You can dry it on high heat. Only touch the ties/ear loops because the inside and outside of the mask may be contaminated.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure you have clean hands before and after putting on your mask. Use cleaning sprays or wipes to disinfect things you touch regularly, including your phone.
  • Monitor your symptoms and take your temperature twice a day. If you have difficulty breathing, confusion, slurred speech, severe dizziness or severe chest pain, then call 911.
  • Make a list of the people who were within 6 feet of you for at least 10-15 minutes (close contacts) from 2 days before you started feeling sick until the time you were tested. If you never had symptoms, list the people you have been close to for 2 days before today’s test. This will help us know who may need to be tested and slow the spread.
  • If applicable, notify your supervisor at work and note the day of testing.

After Receiving Test Results

I was exposed and tested negative, now what?

The CDC has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance. People who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine anymore, but do still need to take precautions and test on day 5.

I was exposed and tested positive, now what?

Metro Health will call you to begin your case investigation. The call will come from a 210-207-xxxx number and will read “SA Health Dept” on your caller ID. Please answer the call or return the call to help public health workers contain the virus. They may ask additional questions to complete the contact tracing process and the information that is shared is 100% confidential. They will never ask your bank account number or social security number. Call your close contacts to notify them of the exposure and make them aware of appropriate quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, stay separated (in “isolation”) from other people in your household for at least 5 days in accordance with the CDC guidelines, and contact your employer’s Human Resources department for other directions. See a medical provider if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, trouble staying awake, or other warning signs.

When can I go back to work? 
  • If you were tested because of an exposure to someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19:
    • For people who are exposed and who are unvaccinated or are more than 5 months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.
    • Individuals who have received their booster shot or have recently completed their primary series should wear a mask around others for 10 days after the exposure.
  • If you were tested because of symptoms and tested positive:
    • Wait to return to work until all of the following have been met:
      • It has been 5 days since your symptoms started,
      • Your symptoms are better, and
      • You haven’t had a fever for 24 hours even without taking fever reducing medicines
    • Follow the CDC guidelines to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Most people don’t need a negative test to be cleared for work.

What else should I be doing?

Avoid crowds, keep a 6-foot distance, wear a face covering, and avoid touching your face without cleaning your hands first.

Remember that people can pass on COVID-19 in the days before they feel sick, or without feeling sick at all. Monitor yourself for symptoms, and get tested if you have any — especially if you have obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease or other chronic conditions.

Follow CDC and Metro Health guidance and for real-time updates, follow @SAMetroHealth on social media, or text COSAGOV to 55000.

For Employers

Employers should follow CDC guidance.

Employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.

  • Under the American’s with Disabilities Act, employers are permitted to require a medical provider’s note from your employees to verify that they are healthy and able to return to work. However, as a practical matter, be aware that healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and can follow CDC recommendations to determine when to discontinue home isolation and return to work.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established guidance regarding Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidance enables employers to take steps to protect workers consistent with CDC guidance, including requiring workers to stay home when necessary to address the direct threat of spreading COVID-19 to others.

2. COVID-19 Vaccine

Why should I get the vaccine?

  • All available COVID-19 vaccines prevent moderate cases of COVID-19 and are extremely effective at preventing more severe cases that can lead to hospitalization and death.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you by creating an immunity response in your body without you having to become sick with COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated also might help protect people around you from COVID-19, especially those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

 

If I can still catch COVID-19 after being vaccinated, then why get vaccinated?

Would you not wear a seat belt because you could still die in a car crash while wearing one? Would you not use condoms because they’re not 100% effective? People who are vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized, especially if boosted, and they are less likely to transmit the virus to others. There’s one other reason: Variants will continue to evolve (sorry). Having almost everyone vaccinated against COVID-19, here and abroad, is the best weapon against variants. Variants can occur only when the virus is free to spread and mutate.

Who can get the vaccine?

Who is eligible?
All adults and children 6 months and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant?
Yes. Pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe illness, death, and pregnancy complications. The CDC issued Health Advisory for Pregnant People to increase COVID-19 vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future to prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Do I need to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have recently received a different vaccine, such as the flu shot?
No, you do not need to wait to get the vaccine. Updated guidance states vaccines can/should be co-administered. Read the CDC's Coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines for more information.
What should I consider if I am having a medical procedure?
Discuss with your doctor if you should delay a vaccination or a medical procedure due to a recent COVID-19 vaccination. For example, if you are getting a mammogram, the vaccine could cause swelling in the lymph nodes as part of the normal immune response, resulting in a false reading. Some experts recommend getting your mammogram before being vaccinated or waiting four to six weeks after getting your vaccine. Learn more about medical procedures and the COVID-19 vaccine on the CDC's website.
Do I need to show proof of Citizenship?
No. You will not need to prove citizenship to get a vaccine and public health will never share your information with any immigration or law enforcement agencies.
If I already had COVID-19 do I still take the vaccine?
Yes, people may get vaccinated after recovering from their COVID-19 infection.
Who should NOT get the vaccine?
  • Anyone with a previous severe or immediate allergic reaction should consult with their doctor first.
  • Those younger than 6 months of age.
  • People currently isolating or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; these people can get vaccinated once they have finished 10-day isolation and symptoms have resolved.

Vaccine information for children

Can children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is approved for individuals who are 6 months of age or older. No vaccines are approved for anyone under 6 months of age at this time.
Is parental/guardian consent needed for minors to receive the vaccine?
Yes. Parental consent (written or verbal) is required prior to vaccination for anyone under the age of 18.
Are parents/guardians required to accompany the child?
Yes. A parent/guardian are required to accompany children between the ages of 6 months – 17 years old to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.
What supporting paperwork will be needed to get my child the COVID-19 vaccine?
Children ages 6 months and up are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with parental consent.. A photo ID (for the parent/guardian; & for the child if available) is preferred but not required. We are not requiring other supporting documentations such as birth certificates. The parent/guardian who accompanies the minor to the appointment can self-attest to the child’s age and identity.

Where can we go to get a vaccine?

People can get vaccinated at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals and other “usual” sites.

Search for a vaccine pop-up clinic near you.

Other Vaccine Providers

Locations may be subject to change.

Additional providers within San Antonio can be located via the DSHS Vaccination page.

How much does the vaccine cost?

There is no charge for the vaccine or administration.  You do NOT need health insurance.

Will vaccines work against Omicron?

Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.

Find out more about the Omicron variant.

Vaccine Safety

Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. Severe side effects are rare. Severe allergic reactions seem to be occurring about 1 for every 100,000 injections.
How were the vaccines developed so quickly?
Every study, every phase, and every trial was reviewed by the FDA and a safety board. Scientists have been working since the start of the pandemic to make COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

Myths about the Vaccine

Will the government be tracking me?
No. Individuals can decide to sign up with the State’s C immunization registry so individuals can have a record of receiving their COVID vaccine.
Is the vaccine made from fetuses?
No. The vaccines do not contain human fetal cells.
Does the vaccine have any blood cells in it?
No. The mRNA vaccines do not contain any blood products.
Is there enough vaccine for everyone?
Yes. There is enough vaccine available for everyone.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
The vaccine is safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are pregnant, lactating, or planning to get pregnant.See Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients for more information.

COVID-19 Post Vaccine FAQs

Side Effects

What are the possible side effects?
Side effects to the vaccine are normal. The most common side effects are:
  • On the arm where you got the shot:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
  • Throughout the rest of your body:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache
Helpful Tips
To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot:
  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
  • Use or exercise your arm.
To reduce discomfort from fever:
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress Lightly.

You can take an over-the-counter medication (like acetaminophen [Tylenol]) after your vaccine to help with side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

Will I get as sick receiving the vaccine as I would from the virus?
No. You cannot become infected, or infect others, from receiving the vaccine because it does not contain any live virus.
Are the side effects after the 2nd dose different?
Many people report more side effects after their second dose compared to their first one. The most common side effects include fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. Side effects typically occur 24-48 hours after the injection, but they should go away in a few days.
Do I need to quarantine if I start experiencing side effects from the vaccine?
No. The side effects do not mean that you are sick with the virus. Side effects occur because the vaccine is preparing your body for if/when it comes into contact with COVID-19.
What do I do if I become sick between injections?
Discuss your side effects with a health practitioner to evaluate whether your side effects might be from COVID-19 infection, vaccine side effects, or another cause.

Second Dose

Do I need to get my 2nd dose at the same location as my 1st dose?
Due to widely available access to COVID-19 vaccine, it is no longer necessary to return to the location where the first dose was received: A second dose can be obtained at any location currently offering COVID-19 vaccines.
Do I need to get my 2nd dose from the same brand as my 1st dose?
Yes.
What happens if I don’t get the second dose?
It is highly recommended to complete both doses (Moderna/Pfizer) to receive the full benefit.
When should I get my 2nd dose?
Make every effort to get your second dose on schedule. If you miss your second dose appointment, try to get it as soon as possible.
What happens if I miss my appointment for my 2nd dose?
Your second dose may be given up to 6 weeks after the first dose, if necessary.

Post Vaccine Concerns

Do I still need to wear a mask and physically distance after receiving the vaccine?
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
  • In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
  • In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • If you are fully vaccinated and have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may need to keep taking steps to protect yourself, like wearing a mask. Talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your health and risks.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, see When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
How long does the protection from the vaccine last?
We do not yet know how long protection lasts after vaccination. Research does show that administration of a booster shot may result in increases in antibody levels and may result in increased effectiveness compared to primary vaccination.
Do I need to keep a record of my vaccination?
It is highly encouraged to keep a record of your vaccination in the event you need proof of vaccination in the future. It may be needed for things such as future travel. You are encouraged to take a picture of both the front and back of your vaccination card once you receive it.
Is there a record of my vaccination being kept?
Yes. If you want a copy of your vaccination record, start by contacting the clinic, doctor, or healthcare provider that administered the vaccination. If your provider has the record on file, this will be the fastest way of obtaining your records. Or you could request it from Texas DSHS by completing a record request form and mailing it to: Texas Department of State Health Services ImmTrac Group MC-1946 P.O. Box 149347 Austin, TX 78714-9347 OR Fax the record request form to: 512.776.7790512.776.7288. You can access this information by visiting https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize
Will I need an annual shot?
This is currently unknown. Research does show that administration of a booster shot may result in increases in antibody levels and may result in increased effectiveness compared to primary vaccination.
What do I do if I have been vaccinated but others around me have not?
You should continue practicing COVID prevention measures to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. These measures (such as wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing your hands) are the best way to avoid spreading the virus. The vaccine is NOT a cure and even when you are vaccinated, there is still a possibility that you could contract COVID-19 or spread it to others.
What do I do if others around me have been vaccinated but I have not?
You should continue practicing COVID prevention measures to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. These measures (such as wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing your hands) are the best way to avoid spreading the virus.
What happens if I am exposed to someone with COVID19 after I have received both doses of the vaccine?
You should still get tested if you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 5-7 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • If your test result is positive, isolate at home for 10 days.
What can I do now that I have been fully vaccinated?

You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. To reduce the risk of being infected with the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if:

  • you have a weakened immune system
  • your age or an underlying medical condition puts you at increased risk for severe disease
  • a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated

You can travel. If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.

You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.

  • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
  • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
  • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).

How do I replace my lost COVID-19 vaccine card?

  • Request vaccine card from your provider.
  • If Metro Health was your vaccine provider (including at the Alamodome), call the Metro Health Immunizations Clinic at 210.207.8894 to make an appointment to request your immunization record.
    • You will pick up your record in person:
      210 N. Mel Waiters Way
      San Antonio, TX 78202
    • There will be a $5 administrative fee.
  • If you’re unable to get a copy from your provider, you can request your vaccine information from the Texas Department of State Health Services:

Find more information about requesting an immunization record.

Booster Vaccinations

NOTE: Metro Health Clinics offers the updated (bivalent) booster vaccine to those 5 years of age and older as long as it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. Learn more about COVID-19 boosters and being up to date with vaccinations from the CDC website.

3. Vaccine Appointment

Is there a cost for the COVID-19 vaccine?

No.

Will I need an appointment?

No appointment is required. You can walk in to any pop-up clinic.

What do I need to bring with me to my appointment?

You need to bring an ID and wear a face mask.

How will I schedule my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

You do not need an appointment to receive the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or booster dose of any vaccine. If you pass the recommended interval for your second dose, you can still receive your second dose without restarting your vaccine series.

How long do I need to wait to get my second dose?

The timing between your first and second shot depends on which vaccine you received. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

  • If you received the Moderna vaccine, you will need to wait at least 24 days after your first dose.
  • If you received the Pfizer vaccine, you will need to wait at least 21 days after your first dose.

You will need to complete the series of the 2 shots in order for them to work. Get the second shot even if you have side effects after receiving the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot.

If you pass the recommended interval for your second dose, you can still receive your second dose without restarting your vaccine series.

 

Do you have to be a San Antonio resident to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

No.

What should I expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

I got my vaccine, now what?

View the CDC's guidance on When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated for information on what you can do after you are fully vaccinated.

4. Omicron Variant

How easily does Omicron spread?

The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.

Will Omicron cause more severe illness?

More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.

Will vaccines work against Omicron?

Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.

Will treatments work against Omicron?

Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.

If omicron is milder, maybe I should catch it on purpose, to get it over with?

This is a gamble because:

  • There’s no guarantee you won’t catch COVID-19 again after Omicron, the same way some people have caught both Delta and Omicron.
  • When we say “milder,” we mean that fewer people need to be hospitalized - but plenty of people still feel knocked out for days, and some will develop long COVID.
  • If you do end up hospitalized, there’s a shortage of COVID-19 treatments and hospital staff right now.
  • Even if you don’t get very sick, you could transmit the virus to others who do.

It’s an even bigger gamble if you are unvaccinated, or older, or have multiple medical conditions. A sad, cautionary tale.

CDC's information on the Omicron variant

5. Face Coverings

Should I wear a face covering when I go out in public?

The CDC advises all people over the age of two wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when:

  • in a public place
  • patronizing businesses
  • it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people such as visiting a grocery store/pharmacy or working in areas that involve close proximity with other coworkers 

Residents should continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while outside their residence.

Employers are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings to employees who are working in an area or activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet separation from other individuals is not feasible.

What type of face covering should I use?

The best mask is the one that conforms well to your face. Depending on the mask and shape of your face, you might achieve this with a

  • KN95 (here are some tips to avoid counterfeits)
  • well-fitting surgical mask (maybe with elastic fitters or a brace to help close up the sides)
  • cloth mask over a surgical mask
  • tight cloth mask in lower risk settings

The main thing is to not have gaps/leakage around the edges of the mask. A cloth mask should have at least two layers and be heavy enough to block light. Cloth will filter less than the other kinds, while the difference in filtration between a surgical mask and an N95 for influenza is minimal.

The CDC offers two good web pages on masks:

NOTE: IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU NOT OBTAIN OR WEAR MEDICAL MASKS or N-95 RESPIRATORS AS THEY ARE A NEEDED RESOURCE FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS. Our healthcare workers and first responders on the front­line combating COVID-19 must have priority access to medical masks or other personal protective equipment.

Is there a correct way wear a face covering?

Yes, according to the CDC, face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

Should I wash my face covering?

Yes, the CDC recommends that reusable face coverings be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering or mask.

6. Case Counts, Symptoms, Prevention

How do I stay updated on COVID-19?

We encourage you to download the Ready South Texas app, available in the iTunes and Google Play stores, to receive updates on the COVID-19 situation in San Antonio. We also encourage you to text COSAGOV to 55000 to receive SMS text message updates from the City of San Antonio. Please follow the Metro Health and City of San Antonio social media pages. We post updates frequently.

Find more information about how you can Stay Informed.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • 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

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Find more information about Symptoms & Testing.

How do I prevent the spread of COVID-19?

We need your help in keeping our community safe. We’re asking everyone in San Antonio to help us by:

  • Staying home if you are sick
  • Practicing social distancing by avoiding crowded areas
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and disposing of used tissues in a lined trash can
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.

Find more information about what you can do to Stop the Spread of COVID-19.

Where can I get personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Medical personnel/first responders inquiring about how to get PPE should send an email to: rmoc213request@strac.org

Can the virus be spread by touching your eyes or changing your contacts?

Human coronaviruses like COVID-19 most commonly spread from an infected person to others through “respiratory droplets” which are expelled when someone coughs or sneezes. So, wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face, eyes and especially before taking out or putting in contact lenses!

Can COVID-19 only be spread when the person is symptomatic?

Human coronaviruses like COVID-19 most commonly spread from an infected person to others through “respiratory droplets” which are expelled when someone coughs or sneezes. In some cases, infected persons may not show any symptoms or may have very mild symptoms and can pass the infection on through contact and respiratory droplets.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath please contact your health care provider. It is important to call before going into a clinic, urgent care, or emergency department, to prevent any potential spread.

How many people are confirmed cases in San Antonio?

For current information on confirmed cases in Bexar County or in the City of San Antonio, please view the COVID-19 Surveillance dashboard.

7. Childcare

What is the guidance for childcare providers?

Texas Child Care Licensing (CCL) urges all current providers to immediately implement the following guidance:

  • Prohibit any person except the following from accessing an operation: operation staff; persons with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, HHSC Child Care Licensing staff, and Department of Family and Protective Services staff; professionals providing services to children; children enrolled at the operation; and parents who have children enrolled and present at the operation.
  • Before allowing entry into the operation, screen all of the individuals listed above, including taking the temperature of each person upon arrival at the operation each day, and deny entry to any person who meets any of the following criteria:
    • A temperature of 100.4°F or above;
    • Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and low-grade fever;
    • In the previous 14 days has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness; or
    • In the previous 14 days has travelled internationally to countries with widespread, sustained community transmission.
  • Require pick up and drop off of children outside of the operation, unless you determine that there is a legitimate need for the parent to enter an operation.
  • Ensure that each child is provided individual meals and snacks. Do not serve family style meals.
  • Please remember to sanitize your operations, wash hands diligently, and have staff members stay home if they are sick.

8. Employees/Employers

I can’t work because of COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

On 3/17/20, Texas Governor Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Workforce Commission to waive the waiting week, for Unemployment Benefits. In addition to waiving the waiting week, the Texas Workforce Commission is exercising its authority under the Governor’s declaration of a Statewide Disaster to waive Unemployment Insurance work search requirements effective immediately.

Please visit WorkforceSolutions Alamo for resources. They are updating their website daily to reflect job seeker, business and community resources:

Can my employer require me to get a negative COVID-19 test before I return to work?

It is always important that employees who feel ill stay home from work until fully recovered. At this time, Metro Health encourages employers to allow employees to return to work without getting a doctor's note. We cannot test employees without symptoms who have been absent from work. Only individuals who meet certain criteria for COVID-19 are tested. If you do not meet the requirements, you will not be able to be tested and provide a negative test.

9. Housing & Evictions

Bills

I need assistance paying my bills or relocating. Where can I go for help?

The City has programs to assist qualifying households with rent, mortgage, utility, and relocation expenses.

Fair Housing and Emergency Assistance
Effective March 18, 2020, the City's Fair Housing Division is accepting emergency rent and mortgage assistance referrals
Risk Mitigation Program
Rent, mortgage, utility, and relocation assistance for low to income households. Visit the website or call 210.207.5910.
Utility Assistance Program
Utility assistance administered through the Department of Human Services for low income households. Visit the website or call 210.207.7830.

The following resources are also available.

The Salvation Army Rental Assistance
The Salvation Army assists individuals and families who are struggling to pay their rent. They are also able to assist those facing eviction.
SAMMinistries
Offers rental assistance, utility support and long-term housing assistance.
Fair Housing Council
The Council's programs and services, such as complaint investigation, advocacy, and education & outreach are available to consumers living in this South Texas service area.

I am unable to pay my utility bills during this time, will they get shut off?

CPS Energy & SAWS are suspending disconnections during the COVID-19 crisis. If you need help paying utility bills apply online or call 210.207.7830. The Texas Public Utility Commission may also provide assistance by calling 866.454.8387.

Will I still receive a utility bill for my water and electricity payments?

Yes, you will continue to receive bills from the utility companies. For help paying your bills, go to:

I need help paying my rent or mortgage. Where can I go for help?

You can get help paying your rent from the City’s Emergency Housing Assistance program online or by calling 210.207.5910.

I am unable to pay my property taxes. What can I do?

The Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector canceled foreclosure sales. For more information, call 210.242.2432 or go to Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector.

I am unable to pay my mortgage payment. What can I do?

Federally-backed loans and mortgages come from HUD, USDA, FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Your lender may not foreclose on you until after July 31, 2021 for federally backed loans.

If you experience financial hardship due to COVID-19, you can request forbearance for up to 180 days. Call your mortgage lender to find out if you qualify.

What is forbearance?

Forbearance is an agreement to pause your regular mortgage payments for a set period of time. Forbearance does not erase the amount you owe on a mortgage. During forbearance, your mortgage lender will not charge late fees. Ask your mortgage lender for more information on this type of agreement.

I am having trouble managing my money and need help.

For free help with budgeting or debt management, contact The City of San Antonio Financial Empowerment Center or call 210.206.5372

Evictions

What is an eviction?

An eviction is a legal process where a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. Many evictions happen because the tenant has not paid rent, or even because the tenant is often late on the rent. Your lease may outline other reasons for eviction.

Is a Notice to Vacate the same as an eviction notice?

A Notice to Vacate is the first step in the eviction process, but it is not an eviction. By comparison, an eviction is a court order to vacate the unit.

A Notice to Vacate does not mean you must move out immediately. You still have time to resolve the issue. You should not move out without talking to your landlord.

Is there an eviction moratorium?

On September 1st, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announced a national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020. The moratorium covers almost all renters. The moratorium has been extended through July 31, 2021.

Landlords may not evict renters for non-payment of rent during the moratorium. Renters may still be evicted for violating other terms of their lease, such as engaging in criminal activity on the premises, threatening the health or safety of other residents, damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property, violating any applicable building code, health ordinance or similar regulations relating to health and safety or violating any other contractual obligation.

I got a Notice to Vacate or am being charged late fees, but I think I live at a property covered by the CARES Act. What should I do?

The CARES Act's protections expired on July 24th, 2020. Your landlord can file a petition for eviction and issue a Notice to Vacate. The County court judge will handle your case and may dismiss the case due to the moratorium or postpone your hearing.

The CDC Moratorium protects many renters financially impacted by the pandemic from eviction for non-payment of rent. To qualify, a signed form must be submitted to the landlord. The form can be found on the Housing & Evictions page.

The CDC Moratorium does not mean renters no longer owe rent. Landlords can still charge and collect fees if rent is not paid on a timely basis.

I am an off-campus college student but have moved home because my campus is closed. Is my lease binding? What can I do?

Yes, most off-campus student housing leases are binding. Leases are effective even with colleges switching to online classes. They also cannot be broken due to financial loss or mental distress. Leases with force majeure or ‘frustration of purpose’ clauses may not be binding.

Available Relief Options
  • The CARES Act gave money to colleges and universities. The funding helps students with unexpected COVID-19 related expenses. Eligible expenses include food, housing, health care, online class materials, and childcare. The aid can help:
    1. U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens
    2. Students eligible to file a FASFA
    3. Students enrolled in the Second Chance Pell experiment
    How each school distributes these funds is largely at their discretion. Contact your school for details about available aid.
  • You can try to sublet your apartment.
  • You can try to work out an individual arrangement/payment plan with the landlord.

Please note, the Bexar County moratorium on eviction and late fees includes students. More information can be found in Executive Order NW-03.

I use a voucher to pay my rent. Am I protected under the CARES Act?

Yes. For more information, visit:

I am unable to pay my rent during this crisis. Can my landlord evict me? What steps should I take?

If you are unable to pay rent, talk to your landlord. They may help you make a payment plan or even change your lease.

If you are unable to pay rent due to pandemic-related loss of income or medical expenses you may be protected from eviction until July 31, 2021 by the CDC Eviction Moratorium. You must complete a Declaration and submit it to your landlord.

You can also get help paying your rent from the City’s Emergency Housing Assistance program online or by calling 210.207.5910.

Your landlord can still give you a Notice to Vacate (NTV.) A NTV is not an eviction but is the first step in the process. If you get one, you do not need to leave immediately. Talk to your landlord and apply for help.

If you would like to talk to an attorney, you can request one through the link or phone number above.

Some programs that may help you pay rent are available on the Housing & Evictions page or see Rent & Mortgage Help.

I am a San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) resident or voucher holder. Can I be evicted?

SAHA is following the CDC order stopping evictions for non-payment. SAHA is not charging fees or penalties to Public Housing residents, other landlords may still charge and collect rent, fees and penalties. Get more information at SAHA or call 210.477.6999

Related Questions

I am a landlord, what should I do if I am not able to collect rent from my residents?

It’s important to remember that we are facing this crisis as a community and it will have an impact on all of us. Industry groups are encouraging their landlord members to waive late fees for those residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as urging members to work with those residents on any needed payment arrangements.

I think that I am being discriminated against for housing. Where can I get assistance?

If you are experiencing housing discrimination or have a fair housing issue contact:

I have a legal issue related to my housing. Where can I get assistance?

For legal assistance contact the Neighborhood and Housing Services Fair Housing Team online or call 210.207.5910.

10. Schools

Virtual Town Hall FAQ

View the City's virtual town hall that took place on Wednesday, August 5. The meeting discussed concerns and safety measures for the upcoming school year.

Can children receive COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals who are 5 years of age or older. No vaccines are approved for anyone under 5 years of age at this time.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

COVID is primarily spread person to person. Everyday actions to prevent transmission include:

  • Maintaining a 6-foot distance from people outside your household.
  • Frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using a face covering that covers the mouth and nose.
  • Avoid sharing utensils, face coverings, musical instruments, drinks, or other high touch personal items.

COVID may be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. Surfaces that people frequently touch such as doorknobs, faucets and handrails should be frequently cleaned.

A cloth face covering should have two or more layers. A face shield is not considered a face covering.

People exposed in an outdoor setting have less risk of acquiring COVID-19. Yelling, singing, and playing wind instruments can increase risk of spread.

What are symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID symptoms may include:

  • 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

Fever is defined as 100.4 or higher (a cutoff of 100.0 is recommended for screening at workplaces).

People with these symptoms should be excluded immediately from the school environment, evaluated by a medical professional and tested to rule out COVID. Find free testing sites here.

If no test is performed, then a symptomatic person should remain in isolation until at least 10 days after symptom onset, symptom improvement, and 24 hours fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicines.

Is it true that children are more contagious than adults?

Children can definitely get COVID-19, but we still do not know much about children and their contagiousness. We need more information about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it (SARS-CoV-2) to know how much children spread the virus. From some studies it appears that children, particularly children under 10, might be less contagious than adults.

How long does COVID-19 live on a surface?

The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, can survive for between hours to days on some surfaces. It survives longer on glass, wood, plastic and stainless steel (3-5 days) than on cardboard or fabric (less than a day). The amount of virus on a surface decreases over time, so risk of infection goes down. Risk of infection from touching a surface also decreases if that surface is in the sun. The virus is easily killed by commonly used disinfectants.

The CDC recommends cleaning (with soap and water) and disinfecting high touch surfaces regularly. This list of disinfectants that work to kill SARS-CoV-2 includes many standard household disinfectants (like bleach).

Should young kids be able to use the playground? I just think of how many kids are touching the equipment. Should we be worried about that?

All playground equipment should be cleaned regularly, according to school protocols. Children should try not to touch their eyes or mouth and wash their hands before and after playing, and hand hygiene should be used frequently. The CDC has guidance on the cleaning of outdoor spaces.

Should all students and staff be tested before returning to school?

The current guidelines do not recommend testing students and staff who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 before they return to school. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should be isolated and tested immediately. Find information about symptoms and how to get tested.

How long can you test positive for COVID after an RT PCR positive with symptoms?

People who are sick with COVID-19, but not sick enough to be hospitalized, are infectious/contagious for 5 to 10 days after they start to feel ill (develop symptoms).

However, the COVID-19 test for infection (the RT PCR, NAAT or antigen test, not the antibody test) can stay positive for longer than someone is infectious. In some cases for the RT PCR test, people have tested positive for 8 weeks after their symptoms are over and they are no longer infectious. This is why the CDC and we do not recommend re-testing to find out if someone is still infectious.

What is the process if a student tested positive? What happens if a teacher gets COVID-19?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers specific guidance for this in their guidebook and in their responses to various scenarios within schools.

An overview is that, if a teacher or student tests positive:

  • They should isolate themselves from others immediately and inform the school.
  • The school should notify the local health authority by calling 210.207.8876.
  • The school is required to notify student families, teachers, and staff in writing.
  • The school should follow appropriate cleaning protocols and collaborate with the local health authority for following up potential contacts of the person with COVID-19 (case investigation and contact tracing).

Much more detail and guidance on these individual steps is available from the TEA:

When can someone who had COVID-19 return to school?

People with COVID-19 can return to work or school after it has been 5 days since their symptoms started and can return as long as they wear a mask for an additional 5 days, symptoms are better, and they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours even without taking fever reducing medicines. A negative test should not be required. If they are unable to wear a mask for the additional 5 days, then they should stay home until day 10.

Recovered persons should not be retested for COVID-19 for at least 3 months after their initial positive test, even if exposed to COVID-19 again during those 3 months.

How do I report a case to Metro Health?

Within 24 hours of notification of the positive result, report to Metro Health by calling 210.207.8876. You will be asked to provide:

  • Person’s Name
  • Person’s Date of Birth (DOB)
  • Person’s Address
  • Person’s/Guardian Contact Information
  • Testing Location
  • Symptom Onset Date (if known)
  • Grade or Job Position
  • Class Schedule/Teacher’s Name(s), if the case is a student
  • Last Date at School
  • Extracurricular Activities 

What are some considerations when contact tracing at a school?

Consider potential exposures from:

  • Transportation to/from school
  • Afterschool programs, extracurricular activities
  • Tutoring, specialized classes
  • Affiliations, close friendships, romantic relationships
  • Meal times and break times

People with underlying health conditions are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. This includes:

  • older adults
  • people of any age with
    • obesity
    • type 2 diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • cancer
    • history of a solid organ transplant
    • serious heart conditions
    • sickle cell disease

Read more here.

What should be done after an exposure in a daycare, school, college or university?

Please see CDC guidance.

What kind of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) does a school nurse need?

Recommendations for school nurses caring for people with suspected COVID-19 include: a fresh, fit-tested N95 mask each day and eye protection (face shield or goggles). Fit testing is an OSHA requirement, and a user seal check should be performed each time a mask is used.

For hands-on care of a symptomatic person, gloves should be worn, and an impermeable gown if there is splash or spray risk.

Nurses should have thermometers, biohazard disposal, at least a 2-week supply of PPE and a handwashing station.

Please advise on the use of face shields vs face masks.

All children should be encouraged to use face masks while indoors, particularly when they are within 6 feet of others. Face shields add protection for the eyes and the rest of the face in addition to face masks. We do not know how much using a face shield without a face mask protects you.

If one of my children is told to stay home because they have been exposed to COVID19, do I keep my other school aged children home as well? What about the rest of my family? Should the exposed child quarantine or be isolated?

The child should be separated as much as possible from the rest of the family. The rest of the family does not need to quarantine unless the child develops symptoms. However, one adult may need to stay home to supervise the child.

What are requirements for a school isolation care room?

Each school should have one or more isolation care rooms, which is a designated place to safely evaluate and hold a person awaiting transportation. Students should be escorted to the isolation space. The area should be away from other students and staff, allow privacy of the evaluation, and have a clear sight line for a supervising adult. It is best for this space to include a cot that can be wiped down and cleaned easily, a dedicated bathroom, and exterior exits to prevent sick individuals from mixing with healthy staff and students. Ideally, isolation care areas are located on an exterior wall to maximize ventilation options. Anyone who enters a designated isolation care room must use appropriate PPE and should be logged to facilitate contact tracing.

Bear in mind that isolation is not a diagnosis; it is a recognition that someone is sick, and needs extra care. Take steps to reduce fear, anxiety, and stigma related to isolation.

After the individual leaves isolation care, the room must be closed and cleaned before it can be used again. The CDC recommends waiting 24 hours before cleaning; if that is not possible, then wait as long as feasible. The area where the individual was originally showing symptoms also must be cleaned and disinfected.

Preguntas de Salud Publica del Foro de Escuelas Virtual - español(PDF, 156KB)

11. Seniors

I’m over 65 or immunocompromised. How do I keep myself safe?

Take Action

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

  • 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 as much as possible.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

Be Prepared

Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions, such as lung or heart disease, diabetes seem to be particularly susceptible to COVID-19. Older adults should take the following precautions:

  • Make a plan to prepare yourself if you get sick.
  • Know who will take care of you if your caregiver gets sick.
  • Talk to your doctor to have enough medication on hand if you get sick.
  • Stay informed on what is happening locally and avoid crowds.
  • Call your doctor immediately if you develop warning signs such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, or blueness of the lips or face.

I’m a senior. Where do I go for help?

Senior Centers

Reopening City Services: Find which Senior Centers are open - Centers are operated by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

All center members enrolled in the Senior Nutrition Program and the San Antonio Food Bank Commodity Program will receive meal distributions and food commodities via curbside at the Senior Centers.

Older adults wanting to enroll in the Senior Nutrition Program can contact the Department of Human Services Senior Center nearest them for services:

For more information: City of San Antonio Senior Services Division: 210.207.7172 or call 311

More Resources