COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
May 3, 2021
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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, vomiting or diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing other symptoms that are concerning to you.
According to the CDC, older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, are at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19. Learn more about people at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza (flu)?
COVID-19 and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses 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 is 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:
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 mainly spreads 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 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 my family and myself?
Get a COVID-19 vaccine: According to the CDC and based on what is known about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe a COVID-19 vaccine may prevent you from getting the virus or seriously ill if you do get it. A COVID-19 vaccine may also help protect people around you, particularly individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Limit possible exposure to COVID-19: Avoid close contact with anyone who has COVID-19. This includes caring for, visiting or sitting within six feet of an infected person, having an infected person cough or sneeze on you or touching used tissues with a bare hand.
Practice proper hygiene: It is important that we all practice proper hygiene because we know COVID-19 primarily spreads from an infected person’s cough or sneeze:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with the bend of your arm — even when you are 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 and mouth) with your hands.
- 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.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well.
Follow public health guidelines: Please follow public health guidelines for wearing masks, group gatherings and travel in addition to the above safety steps:
What should I do if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
If you think you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it is 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 telehealth visit and have a remote consultation with your doctor.
Please do not 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.
How can I get a COVID-19 test?
Please call your doctor to determine if you meet criteria for a COVID-19 test based on the latest guidelines:
Treatment and recovery
What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?
While most people with COVID-19 return to normal health, some people have symptoms that last long after their initial diagnosis. Common chronic symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Memory loss or “brain fog”
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Balance issues and trouble walking
- Weakness or numbness in arms and legs
- Pain, body aches or joint pain
- Mood changes
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Loss of taste and smell
- Hair loss
Nuvance Health opened a COVID-19 Recovery Program for individuals experiencing persistent symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
If you or a loved one needs medical support after recovering from COVID-19, call 203-633-8334 (TTY 203-899-5016) to schedule a telehealth visit and receive a customized treatment plan.
Learn more about the COVID-19 Recovery Program.
Does Nuvance Health offer monoclonal antibody therapy?
Monoclonal antibody therapy is currently available for individuals who are at high-risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 because of risk factors such as age or underlying medical conditions.
Monoclonal antibody therapy has been shown to prevent hospitalization in COVID-19-positive patients when administered during the first 10 days of their symptom development.
To be eligible, patients have a positive COVID-19 test, at least one symptom and meet the definition for high risk. Nuvance Health infusion centers can administer Eli Lilly treatments for patients who have doctor orders.
Schedule a telehealth visit and have a remote consultation with a healthcare clinician if you think you might be a candidate for this treatment.
Learn more about monoclonal antibody therapy.
Getting safe care at Nuvance Health
What is 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: We pre-screen patients for COVID-19 risk factors over the phone before their appointment, and patients and staff before entering Nuvance Health facilities.
- Check-in/out processes: To limit the number of people in our facilities and ensure proper social distancing, we may ask patients to wait in their vehicles until their appointment begins, or in waiting areas with fewer chairs set more than six feet apart. We may also offer pre-registration and follow-up appointments by phone.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): Patients, approved visitors and staff wear appropriate PPE including masks.
- Infection prevention: Stringent cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities will take place through the day with a deep clean daily.
Learn more about safe care at Nuvance Health.
Is it safe to see my doctor for routine healthcare?
We are here for all of your healthcare needs, including screenings, tests, surgery, wellness exams and care if you are sick.
While the above protocols are in place to keep you safe during your in-person visit, Nuvance Health also offers telehealth visits so you can schedule a remote consultation with your doctor using a computer or mobile device.
Is it safe to go to the hospital if I am experiencing a medical emergency?
Please do not delay emergency care if you are 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 is 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 to 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 you can 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. Nuvance Health also uses funds to support ongoing emergency preparedness efforts, such as research, education and enhanced testing. Learn more about how philanthropy can make a difference and make a gift.
Where can I go for more information?
Stay informed with accurate facts from trusted sources about COVID-19.
Use these trusted sources to find out more:
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