Coronavirus: What You Need to Know
Our experts from the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, in conjunction with other infectious disease colleagues, explain how coronavirus spreads, its symptoms, if you should travel and what you should do if you suspect you have coronavirus.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus that are common in animals and, rarely, infect humans. A newly identified coronavirus emerged in humans in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It’s called coronavirus because it is covered with pointed structures that look like a corona, or crown. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
- What Are Coronavirus Symptoms?
People with the virus have reported symptoms that range from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. Mild cases may be difficult to distinguish from colds or flu.
Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure. They can include:
- Shortness of breath
“Most patients will get symptoms like fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough,” says Elie Saade, MD, UH Director for Infection Control. “In a minority of patients, that will progress to cause severe pneumonia and that can lead to death.”
If you have been to infected countries or U.S. states within the past 30 days and develop symptoms, call your doctor.
- Is It COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? How to Tell
- How Does Coronavirus Spread?
The coronavirus is a respiratory disease that appears to spread like the flu virus – person-to-person and through the air. Virus-containing droplets from coughs or sneezes land in the mouth or nose of another person. You also can pick up the virus by touching an infected surface with your hand, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
People with the virus may be able to spread it before symptoms appear but, in general, people are thought to be most contagious when they are the most symptomatic.
People have little or no immunity to the virus because it is new. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person around the world. It may be months before an effective vaccine is developed.
- How Does Coronavirus Affect People Differently?
People who have a higher chance of getting very sick from COVID-19 are:
- Older adults
- People with a serious chronic health problem such as: cancer, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease
- People with sickle cell disease
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 exposure to the disease.
- What You Can Do To Avoid Getting and Spreading Coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick. If you have a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without having used fever-reducing medicines.
- Avoid crowds and close contact with people who are sick. If you are taking care of someone who is sick, try to stay 6 feet away – this is the distance virus-containing droplets can travel through a sneeze or cough.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol hand gel that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your coughs; Sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects at home like door knobs with soap and water.
- Avoid frequently touched surfaces in public places, like elevator buttons, door handles and handrails. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch such a surface.
- What To Do If You Suspect You Have Coronavirus
About 80 percent of people who are infected with the coronavirus will have mild symptoms and can recover at home without seeing a doctor for treatment, Dr. Saade says.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps:
Call your physician. Call your physician as the first step in your care. We do not recommend coming into your physician’s office, urgent care or a health care facility without a doctor’s directive. Follow your physician’s advice for treatment at home. Your doctor will determine if you need to be tested. If you don’t have a physician, you can speak with a physician via UH Virtual Visit.
Stay home. Try to stay in one room and away from other people. Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, towels or bedding, and wash them after use. Use a separate bathroom, if possible. Do not go into public places, such as a grocery store, or use public transportation or ride-sharing services.
Monitor and treat your symptoms. Take your temperature. You can take acetaminophen (sold under brand names such as Tylenol®) to reduce fever and relieve body aches. Drink plenty of fluids and rest.
Watch for severe signs. If you develop trouble breathing, seek medical attention. Be sure to call your doctor or emergency room before going in and tell them your symptoms.
- How Can I Get Tested?
If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule a Virtual Visit. If your health care provider thinks that you need to get tested for coronavirus, he or she will provide you with a physician’s order, which is needed for testing at one of our UH testing locations.
Treat Common Symptoms Virtually
Use UH Virtual Visit to immediately consult with a doctor using a computer or mobile device for everything from colds to infections.
To create an account, text UHVirtualVisit to 635483 or visit UHhospitals.org/VirtualVisit.
Coronavirus: Expert Medical Advice & Information
What Does It Do to the Body?University Hospitals pediatric infectious disease specialist, Amy Edwards, MD talks about what COVID-19 (coronavirus) does to the body.
Why should we wear masks?UH Rainbow pediatric infectious disease specialist Amy Edwards, MD explains why the CDC now recommends wearing a mask.
What Treatments Are Being Developed?Robert Salata, Program Director of University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, talks about what treatments are being developed for COVID-19 (coronavirus).
When Will There Be a Vaccine?Efforts are under way, but researchers must make sure it’s safe, says Robert Salata, MD, program director of the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health.
The Impact on KidsChildren seem to be experiencing the illness in a different way than adults. UH Rainbow pediatric infectious disease specialist Amy Edwards, MD, in conjunction with the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, explains.
What Will Happen to Me if I Get Coronavirus?Elie Saade, MD, UH Director for Infection Control, in conjunction with UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, discusses what to expect if you become infected with coronavirus.
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University Hospitals Is Prepared to Handle Coronavirus
University Hospitals is taking steps to respond if needed:
UH’s emergency response plan has been updated for the coronavirus outbreak and to meet any rapid increase in healthcare needs. We also are in touch with the local health department and the Ohio Department of Health to monitor the situation and respond to new events or recommendations by the CDC.
We screen all patients who come to our facilities, such as emergency departments, urgent care centers, outpatient clinics and others, by asking appropriate questions about travel to areas of concern as defined by the CDC, contact with persons known to have contracted coronavirus, and about fever and symptoms of respiratory illnesses. The infection control team is available 24/7 to assist at all of our sites.
All UH facilities have access to rooms that meet the standard of isolation for patients with coronavirus as recommended by the CDC, and we can rapidly recruit more rooms throughout our facilities.
UH Emergency Departments are erecting tents for use as alternate screening sites. This will allow us to keep patients separated and optimize hospital capacity for the community.
All UH employees must undergo mandatory screening for symptoms of COVID-19 as they arrive at work. Before entering the facility, each employee will have their temperature taken and be asked about recent travel history and the presence of flu-like symptoms. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees F or higher or exhibiting flu-like symptoms will not be permitted to enter our facilities. We are also advising employees to follow Gov. Mike DeWine's directive to take their temperature before coming to work.
UH Among First in Nation to Test Investigational Antiviral Drug
University Hospitals has secured two clinical trials that will provide the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir to hospitalized adults with pneumonia due to the novel coronavirus.
One trial will focus on COVID-19 patients with moderate illness. The second will focus on patients with more severe illness who may require care in the intensive care unit (ICU). Learn more about these studies.