Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Basics

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, since December 2019.

Health experts are closely monitoring the situation because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms?

A: COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected; people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Q: How long does it take for symptoms of the COVID-19 to appear?

A: CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of viruses. There are isolated reports of individuals transmitting the infection to others before they develop symptoms. To be cautious, many governments are requiring an isolation period of 14 days for people returning from endemic areas.

Q: Should I be tested for COVID-19?

A: Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Q: How is COVID-19 treated?

A: There is currently no FDA approved medication for COVID-19. People infected with this virus should receive supportive care such as rest, fluids and fever control, to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

Prevention

Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: Currently, there is no vaccine available.

Q: How can I best protect myself and patients?

A: Practice the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Standard household cleansers and wipes are effective in cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions   to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antiviral if prescribed.

Q: Should I wear a face mask? Will that help protect me?

A: Masks do help to stop the spread of infection, so they can help if someone who is actively sick wears them. However, when it comes to COVID-19, it is unclear how effective protective masks are. Currently the CDC does not recommend masks for healthy individuals. If you are not sick and do not have symptoms, maintaining proper infection control such as frequent hand washing and cough etiquette is the best form of protection.

Cleveland Clinic’s Response and Preparedness for COVID-19

Q: How is Cleveland Clinic preparing for COVID-19?

A: We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and our clinicians are meeting regularly to continue to prepare. We are following CDC guidance. As part of this, we have added a screening question to identify patients who have recently traveled from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan. We are preparing should the need arise, following CDC and World Health Organization’s recommendations and protocols.

Q: Has Cleveland Clinic treated any patients with COVID-19?

A: As of March 2, 2020, Cleveland Clinic has not treated any patients with COVID-19. This applies to all Cleveland Clinic locations across the enterprise.

Q: Is Cleveland Clinic screening patients for COVID-19?

A: Yes, Cleveland Clinic is following CDC guidelines and asking all patients about recent international travel. As part of the intake process, questions regarding international travel have been added to outpatient visits. Travel screenings are part of the standard process for inpatients.

Travel

For the latest information on travel information, alerts and warnings, please visit the CDC’s   Travel website.

Q: What should I do if I have symptoms and have recently traveled from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan?

A: If you traveled from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Q: Should I travel internationally?

A: CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan at this time.

If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.

This document has been updated as of March 2, 2020, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the latest information about COVID-19 including how it spreads, prevention, treatment, and symptoms.