Living with COVID


The New Normal

We, as a community, have more tools to deal with COVID-19 than in the early days of the pandemic.

We have access to free vaccines (and boosters to stay up-to-date to keep immunity at high levels), free testing (including at-home versions), a better understanding of which kinds of masks offer the best protection and treatment options if we do become infected.

The COVID-19 virus remains in our community and on a global scale. (Keep track of data here.) It’s impossible to predict what new – and potentially more transmissible or dangerous – variant will be coming next.

Living with COVID does not mean ignoring COVID.

We all can take steps to understand and mitigate our risks, so we're able to make healthy decisions based on harm-reduction strategies. You can do the things you want to do AND do them as safely as possible.

Bivalent boosters available

The CDC recommends the updated bivalent booster for those 6 months and older if it has been at least two months since the completion of their primary series or since they received a dose of the original booster.

Free COVID-19 treatment

The Pima County Health Department can potentially set you up with an immediate prescription for free COVID-19 antiviral pills.

Call to determine eligibility if you:
  • Have been exposed to someone who may be sick
  • Have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19
You can call us at 520-724-7895 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

You may also be able to get a prescription for COVID-19 oral medication through your health care provider, or other community clinics, but the Health Department is offering this program to improve access for anybody and everybody.

Click here for more info on this program.

What to do if you get COVID-19

The CDC in August changed some of its COVID-19 guidance, including no recommended quarantine if you a close contact with an infected person, even if you are unvaccinated. Why did the CDC update its guidance? High levels of immunity and availability of effective COVID-19 prevention and management tools – vaccines, therapeutics -- have reduced the risk for medically significant illness and death.

Check our page for the best practices for what to do if you are exposed to COVID or test positive.

Quarantine and Isolation Calculator

This online tool from the CDC makes it easy to help you determine how long you need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.

Please note that the Quarantine & Isolation Calculator is not for people with COVID-19 who are moderately or severely ill, or those who have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) -- they should talk to their doctor about when to end isolation.

For your vacation/travel

As of April 18, 2022, masks were no longer required on public transportation and at transportation hubs, such as airports. You may decide that wearing a mask in indoor public transportation settings remains the right decision for you.

The CDC maintains a global map of travel recommendations by destination.

Traveling can increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19. Find guidance about what to do before, during and after travel (including testing):

Living with long COVID

Long COVIDSome people may suffer long-term health effects after a COVID-19 infection. These are conditions that occur four or more weeks following infection and may be called chronic COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-haul COVID, or commonly, long COVID.

Long COVID conditions are found more often in those who had severe COVID-19 illness, but may sometimes affect those who had only mild illness or who had no symptoms.

If you think you or your child has long COVID or a post-COVID condition, please talk to your medical provider. The CDC has tips on how to talk to your doctor about post-COVID conditions.

Although post-COVID conditions appear to be less common in children and adolescents than in adults, long-term effects after COVID-19 do occur in children and adolescents.
More information from the CDC about long COVID

Learn more about preventing long COVID, living with long COVID and support groups that are available

Commonly reported long COVID symptoms include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (known as "post-exertional malaise")
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (heart palpitations)
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes called "brain fog")
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness while standing
  • Changes in smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Diarrhea or stomach pain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Changes in menstrual cycles

Be COVID smart about ...

Long COVID icon

Mask Up ... if you want to

Part of the new normal is some people are going to wear masks in public -- especially indoors when six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained -- for any number of reasons: They may have cancer, be immune-compromised, have asthma symptoms that are alleviated by wearing a mask. Or they may be trying to protect loved ones who are at high risk ... or they actually have symptoms of illness and don't want to spread that to you.

The highest quality filtration and fitting masks, are, in order:
  • N95, KN95 and KF94 are the most effective at filtering the virus and fitting to the face. These masks are disposable and will need to be replaced depending how often you wear the mask. You should dispose of the mask if it becomes soiled due to sneezing and/or coughing. N95 and KN95 can be more expensive. The website assists people to find credible sources for buying these type of masks.
  • Surgical Masks are easier to wear than N95 and KN95, are also disposable, and need to be replaced when soiled. Surgical masks act as a barrier to your mouth and nose from large-particle droplets, and also provide protection to those around you.
  • Cloth masks are the least effective and should have at least two layers. It is recommended that you wear a disposable mask under a cloth mask if you wear a cloth mask.
For more information on best practices for masking, visit

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Don't miss your shot(s)

Since COVID-19 isn't going away, the best way to live with COVID around you is to be up to date on your vaccines. That gives you the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

And don't miss your booster(s)

Being up to date on your vaccine means getting your booster dose when you are eligible.

Pfizer, Moderna boosters for youth now available

Dec. 16, 2022: Bivalent boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) for children 6 months and older are available at Pima County Health Clinics (Theresa Lee, East, North).

The CDC recommends the updated booster for those 6 months and older if it has been at least two months since you completed your primary series or received a dose of the original booster.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

  • Anyone with symptoms.
  • Anyone who has had close contact with an infected person should test at least five days after contact.
  • Anyone planning to spend time with someone at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
What is a close contact?

Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a two-day period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

How to get free at-home tests

It's important to report the results of your self-test -- positive or negative -- so we can get the most accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 in our community and make decisions about where to direct more resources.

Graphic with faces showing different emotions

For Immediate Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing:
  • suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 
  • an overdose, call 9-1-1
  • a mental health crisis, call (520) 622-6000
OR if you would rather text...
  • Text TALK to 741741. Text with a counselor 24/7/365
COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways, and people are dealing with lots of hard feelings and emotions. Help is available, and we are here for you.

We’ve collected some tools to help with the emotional tolls of the pandemic. Check them out! And sometimes it’s easier to learn from an expert. When you’re ready, connect with a Mental Health Pro to help you practice skills to take care of your mental health.

Not ready to talk? Check out some of these links...

I am a young person I am a caregiver
I work at a school
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Worried about COVID-19 and pregnancy?

People who are pregnant or recently pregnant are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to people who are not pregnant.

People who have COVID-19 during pregnancy have increased risk for preterm birth and stillbirth. They may also have increased risk for other pregnancy complications.

Click for more resources on COVID-19 and pregnancy (English/Spanish).

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, were recently pregnant, or may become pregnant in the future.

Healthy pregnancy and COVID-19: What you need to know

On Feb. 2, 2022, Pima County and Tucson Medical Center hosted a town hall on healthy pregnancy and COVID-19, answering many questions from the public. Watch it here:

Un embarazo saludable y el COVID-19: Lo que necesita saber

Healthy pregnancy graphic
‘There’s no one long Covid’: Experts struggle to make sense of the continuing mystery (Stat, 7/22)
Virologists gathered recently to discuss what might cause long COVID, and its prediction and treatment. Epidemiologist Sairam Parthasarathy of the University of Arizona described the prevalence as 43% of all COVID cases based on pooled evidence of 50 studies.

How Better Ventilation Can Help 'COVID Proof' Your Home (KHN, 5/18)
Despite your best mitigation efforts, you, your child, or someone else in your home has come down with COVID-19, and the last thing you want is for the virus to spread to everyone in your family or household. But how do you prevent it from circulating when you live in close quarters? The best strategy for avoiding the virus is to make your indoor environment as much like the outdoors as possible, which means improving ventilation.

‘That’s Just Part of Aging’: Long COVID Symptoms Are Often Overlooked in Seniors (KHN, 5/18)
Millions of older adults are struggling with long COVID — a population that has received little attention even though research suggests seniors are more likely to develop the poorly understood condition than younger or middle-aged adults. Only now is long COVID’s impact on older adults beginning to be documented.

3 ways to get COVID pills, if you've just tested positive (NPR, 5/11)
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, and have risk factors for progression to serious illness, there are now ample treatments available that could help you avoid the worst and recover more quickly from a mild or moderate case of illness. Here are three ways to access COVID-19 antiviral pills, if you're eligible to receive them.

Here's why you might still want to wear masks on public transport (NPR, 4/22)
Scientists say certain forms of transportation pose more risk than others, and even different legs of a journey can present different risks. Understanding these differences can help guide your own personal decisions about what risks you can and cannot afford to take.
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