COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

January 26, 2021

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COVID-19 symptoms, spread and reducing risk of exposure

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus. Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and have at times caused more severe respiratory illnesses such as MERS and SARS. We continue to learn more about COVID-19. We know that COVID-19 affects people in different ways. Infected people have reported a wide range of symptoms, including no symptoms (asymptomatic), mild to moderate symptoms, or severe illness.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or a combination of symptoms may have COVID-19: 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, or diarrhea. This list doesn’t include all possible symptoms. Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. Visit cdc.gov/coronavirus to learn more about people at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

What’s the difference between COVID-19 and influenza (flu)?
COVID-19 and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Many symptoms of COVID-19 and flu overlap, which could cause concern if you or a loved one become sick. According to the CDC, one symptom of COVID-19 that’s not usually present with flu is a new loss of taste or smell.

You can reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 and the flu by social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands. Also get your flu vaccine to reduce your risk of getting the flu. Learn how to tell the difference between COVID-19 and flu, and what to do if you get sick.

How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is a contagious infectious disease that seems to spread easily from person to person. People who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact with an infected person, and by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. The CDC defines close contact as being within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission. This means a person may catch COVID-19 if they are exposed to droplets and particles produced by an infected person that linger in the air for minutes to hours. The virus may be able to infect people who are further than six feet away from the infected person or after that person has left the space.

It may also be possible to catch COVID-19 by touching a surface (like a kitchen counter) or object (like a door handle) that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What can I do to reduce the risk of possible exposure to COVID-19 and protect myself and my family?
We’re continuing to learn more about how COVID-19 spreads, and how it affects people in different ways. That’s why it’s important to follow these guidelines to keep yourself and your family, friends, and community safe from possible exposure to COVID-19:

Wear a face mask when out in public: Wear a face mask in public settings, such as the grocery store, to slow the spread of COVID-19. You should not wear a mask with a valve because these only offer protection for those wearing the mask, and not others.

Limit possible exposure to COVID-19: The best way to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 is to limit possible exposure to the virus. Limit group gatherings and practice social distancing, which means staying at least six feet away from non-household members when in public.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. This includes caring for, visiting or sitting within six feet of an infected person, being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person, or touching used tissues with a bare hand.

Practice proper hygiene: Because we know COVID-19 is primarily spread from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, it’s important that we all practice proper hygiene.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with the bend of your arm — even when you’re wearing a mask
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds at a time. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) with your hands
  • When greeting people, avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing
  • Regularly clean often-touched surfaces with disinfectant. These types of surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Follow public health guidelines: Please follow public health guidelines for group gatherings and travel in addition to the above safety steps:


COVID-19 Testing

What should I do if I think I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
If you think you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important for you to stay home and limit your interactions with other people as much as possible. Then, call your doctor for medical advice. At Nuvance Health, you can schedule a Virtual Visit and have a remote consultation with your doctor. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a doctor, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Please don’t go directly to your doctor’s office, emergency department, or another medical facility without calling ahead first to let them know about your symptoms. Only go to the emergency department if you need emergency care.

Can I be tested for COVID-19?
Criteria for COVID-19 testing continues to evolve as testing capacity expands. Please call your doctor to determine if you meet criteria for a COVID-19 test based on the latest guidelines. For more information about the COVID-19 testing at Nuvance Health, please visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus.


Getting safe care at Nuvance Health

What’s Nuvance Health doing to ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic?|
We understand you may be concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 when you come to our hospitals and medical offices. Rest assured — safe care is our top priority. Please expect these positive changes during your next visit to a Nuvance Health hospital or medical office:

  • Screening protocols: Patients will be pre-screened for COVID-19 risk factors over the phone before their appointment. Patients and staff will be screened before entering any Nuvance Health facility.
  • Check-in/out processes: To limit the number of people in our facilities and ensure proper social distancing, patients may be asked to wait in their vehicles until their appointment begins, or in waiting areas with fewer chairs set more than six feet apart. Pre-registration and follow-up appointments may be done by phone.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Face masks must be worn by patients, approved visitors, and staff. Clinical staff may also wear additional PPE including face shields, head coverings, gloves, or surgical gowns.
  • Infection prevention: Stringent cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities will take place through the day with a deep clean daily.

For more information, please visit nuvancehealth.org/safecare.

Is it safe to see my doctor for routine healthcare?
We’re here for all of your health care needs, including screenings, tests, surgery, wellness exams, and care if you’re sick. Please call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you need non-emergency medical attention.

While the above protocols are in place to keep you safe during your in-person visit, Nuvance Health also offers Virtual Visits so you can have a remote consultation with your doctor using a computer or mobile device. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a doctor, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Is it safe to go to the hospital if I’m experiencing a medical emergency?
Please don’t delay emergency care if you’re experiencing signs of heart attack, stroke, or another health concern that may require immediate attention. Signs of an emergency include: trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to wake up; or bluish lips or face. Our emergency departments have strict protocols in place to keep patients who need emergency care safe, such as cohorting and separation of patients according to symptoms.


Visiting Nuvance Health hospitals and facilities

What’s the visitor policy at Nuvance Health?
We continuously reevaluate our visitation policy as conditions change. Anyone planning to visit a Nuvance Health hospital should review the full visitation policy first so they can determine if they meet criteria for visiting and best prepare for their visit.

For the latest information, please visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus to review the full visitation policy.

The policy includes specific details for Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut; and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.


Stronger together: How can you help?

How can I give to Nuvance Health?
Philanthropic efforts to fund equipment — including PPE for frontline staff — and investing in safety of clinical environments have been critical to the progress Nuvance Health has made in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and treating seriously ill patients. Funds are also being used to support ongoing emergency preparedness efforts, such as research, education, and enhanced testing. For more information about how philanthropy can make a difference or to make a gift, please visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus/givenow.


Where can I go for more information?

Stay informed with accurate facts from trusted sources about COVID-19. Focus on facts, take a deep breath, and remember that we’re all in this together.

Use these trusted sources to find out more:

For general questions about COVID-19, try these:

Nuvance Health is keeping our communities informed on social media @NuvanceHealth. You can also search for your hospital’s name. Nuvance Health hospitals include Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut; and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.