What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people. The 2003 SARS outbreak, also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a well-known coronavirus. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new coronavirus outbreak, now called COVID-19, which was first detected in China. While it is still too early to fully understand COVID-19, our number-one priority is to support the health and safety of our team members and patients.
How does COVID-19 spread?
This is an emerging virus, so there are still many unknowns, including how easily or effectively the virus is spreading between people. As with all respiratory viruses, it is advisable to limit close contact (within six feet) with an infected person. Coronaviruses are also spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes, but it is unknown if COVID-19 spreads in this way. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Share the Facts, Stop the Fear page.
What are the symptoms of the COVID-19?
Symptoms are similar to an upper respiratory infection and may include:
- Fever or chills
- Cough or chest congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- New loss of smell or taste
- Muscle pains
- Vomiting or diarrhea
More cases of COVID-19 are expected to be diagnosed, much like the other epidemics that we have experienced over the last 15 years. But it is important to know that 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild or without symptoms. Like the seasonal flu, COVID-19 infection is more severe in patients with chronic underlying health conditions and the elderly.
Can I get tested for COVID-19 and, if so, where?
You can be tested if your primary care provider or health care professional determines you should be tested for COVID-19 and orders the test. Learn more about Reliant’s test procedure here.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of a COVID-19 test?
Many health insurance companies across the country have stated that they will cover the full cost of any testing for COVID-19. However, it is a good idea to check with your specific insurance company to ask about coverage of the test.
Is there a treatment for COVID-19?
At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you become infected, you will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by following the steps listed on the What to Do if You Are Sick page of the CDC website.
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
Until there are more answers, you are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home
- Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Stay home when you are sick
- While a flu shot does not prevent COVID-19, it’s still good to protect yourself against influenza and schedule a flu shot.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
Is there guidance related to travel?
CDC recommends you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential, and practice social distancing especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. Don’t travel if you are sick or travel with someone who is sick.
This situation is evolving, so please visit the CDC Information for Travelers website for the latest guidance.
Are there other things I should do to prepare?
The CDC says that now is a good time to assess individual and family preparedness but advised that preparations do not need to go beyond what is needed for a natural disaster or an infrastructure disruption. Preparedness typically includes making a plan, making a kit, and staying informed. Resources are available from the US Department of Homeland Security, the CDC, and the Red Cross.
Where can I find more information about COVID-19?
This situation is fluid and evolving quickly. For the latest information, guidance and travel alerts, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 homepage and the World Health Organization website. Understanding the facts around the virus will help reduce stigma and panic.
What should I do if someone I know is sick or had contact with someone who has COVID-19?
What should I do if I get sick or someone in my house gets sick?
Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.
- Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
However, some people may need emergency medical attention. Watch for symptoms and learn when to seek emergency medical attention.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID 19?
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should be tested, even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Call your primary care provider’s office to set up a time to be tested.
- While you are waiting for your COVID-19 test result, stay home away from others (self-quarantine) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 to protect your friends, family, and others from possibly getting COVID-19.
- If your test is positive, you should continue to stay home and self-isolate away from others and monitor your health. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and they worsen or become severe, you should seek emergency medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face. Someone from the health department may call you to
- Check on your health,
- Discuss who you have been around, and
- Ask where you have spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others.
- If your test is negative and you don’t have symptoms, you should continue to stay home and self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. This is important because symptoms can appear up to 14 days after you’ve been exposed and are infected. A negative result before the end of your quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. Additionally, you do not need a repeat test unless you develop symptoms, or if you require a test to return to work.
- If your test is negative and you have symptoms, you should continue to self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. Additional medical consultation and a second test may be needed if your symptoms do not improve.
Should I get tested if someone I live with traveled to a high-risk area?
No. The person who traveled should follow Massachusetts travel orders: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order
Visit the CDC’s FAQ page for more information: