Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Updated March 26, 2020, at 5:20 p.m.

Media Contact

Andrea Pacetti 216-316-3040

Halle Bishop Weston 216-312-5086

Shannon Nealon 216-318-8067

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this document has been updated as of March 26, 2020. For the latest information about COVID-19 including how it spreads, prevention and treatment, and symptoms, visit the CDC’s website

COVID-19 Basics

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, that has only spread in people 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. That means to become infected, you generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, diarrhea and shortness of breath.

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

A: The CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure.

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.


Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: Currently, there is no vaccine available.

Q: How can I best protect myself?

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 antivirals if prescribed.
Q: Should I wear a face mask? Will that help protect me?

A:  If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (like sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.

If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Q: Are pregnant women at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s not yet known whether pregnant women are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 or are likely to have more severe symptoms, compared with individuals of a similar age and health status, who aren’t pregnant. However, it’s still important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. We recommend to:

  • Wash your hands frequently. You’ve heard this advice over and over, but for good reason. Cleaning your hands can really stop the virus in its track.
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people, and avoid groups of individuals larger than 10.
  • Get the flu shot. It won’t protect you against COVID-19, but it will lower your risk of catching influenza — another more common respiratory illness that can cause complications for expectant moms.
  • Go virtual. Whenever possible, consider virtual prenatal visits with your doctor instead of in-person appointments. Spending less time in the waiting room and doctor’s office might reduce the risk of catching the virus. However, some important prenatal care visits will still need to be in-person, such as ultrasounds, fetal testing and some blood work.
  • Call your doctor if you’re coughing. If you develop flu-like symptoms such as a cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, contact your doctor via telephone or virtual visit. They’ll determine if you should be tested for the coronavirus and what your next steps should be.
Q: Can pregnant women with COVID-19 pass the virus to their fetus or newborn?

A:There are currently no studies that show evidence the virus can be passed from mother to fetus before delivery. A report in The Lancet medical journal looked at nine pregnant women in China in their third trimester with pneumonia caused by COVID-19. None of the mothers developed severe illness. Two babies did show some signs of distress, but all nine babies were born alive and fairly healthy. Additionally, they all tested negative for coronavirus.

Q: Does COVID-19 have a different impact on women in their first trimester as opposed to their second or third trimester?

A: The Lancet study looked at nine pregnant women who had COVID-19 during their third trimester. Doctors still aren’t sure how the disease might affect women and developing babies earlier in pregnancy, during the first trimester. High fevers in early pregnancy can increase the risk of some birth defects, however, little is known regarding how that affects pregnant women with COVID-19. That’s something doctors and researchers will be watching for as the virus unfolds.

Access and Visitor Restrictions in Ohio Locations 

Q: I have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic and I am concerned about COVID-19. Should I cancel my appointment?  

A:We are taking necessary precautions on behalf of our patients, visitors and caregivers.

At this time our primary care providers are reviewing patient records and encouraging all of our Ohio patients with non-essential primary care appointments scheduled to take place in the next few weeks to consider rescheduling for three months out.

For appointments that cannot be postponed, options will include Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online, phone and MyChart visits, with in-person appointments being a back-up option.

For patients who require a physical exam, in-person appointments will remain as scheduled.  We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and our clinicians are meeting regularly to continue to prepare.

If you have a fever, cough, diarrhea or shortness of breath, or are otherwise concerned you have COVID-19, we ask that you do not come to any Cleveland Clinic facility without calling your primary care physician or speaking to a provider using a virtual visit using Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online. Patients will then be evaluated to determine if they require being seen in person or if they meet CDC guidelines for testing for COVID-19 based on symptoms, travel and exposures. If a patient meets criteria for testing, their Express Care Online provider or primary care physician will advise how to proceed with testing.

Q: Can I bring someone with me to my scheduled appointment?  

A: For Ohio and Florida locations:
At this time, no guests or visitors are permitted to accompany adult patients, unless special assistance is required.
Pediatric patients, elderly patients and those with special needs are permitted to bring no more than one guest. No more than two guests will be permitted per family or group.
Visitors who are sick, have a fever, or a confirmed case of COVID-19 should not visit or accompany a patient.
Visitors must wash their hands (or use sanitizer) before and after entering clinical areas and waiting rooms.

Q: I have a surgery scheduled at Cleveland Clinic, will it be canceled?

A: Ohio:
The Ohio Governor’s office, in collaboration with the Ohio Hospital Association, announced new guidelines on postponing non-essential surgeries, a related procedures, for adult and pediatric patients.
Cleveland Clinic will use these guidelines to determine which procedures and surgeries should be postponed.
Patients who have non-essential procedures scheduled between Thursday, March 19th and Friday, March 27th will be contacted by Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic Florida is using guidelines set by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to determine which procedures are nonessential and should be postponed. Going forward, procedures must be lifesaving for the patient, preserving function of organs or limbs, reducing risk of metastasis or progression of disease, or reducing risk of severe symptoms.

  • Surgical cases, such as, urgent or emergent surgery, cancer surgery or cancer evaluation, infected joints, or other indications consistent with the government guidelines will continue.
  • Examples of nonessential surgeries and related procedures include deferrable bronchoscopy, deferrable upper and lower endoscopies, routine dental procedures, symptomatic problems which are stable, management of benign conditions, cosmetics, primary and revision joint therapy (non-infected), bariatric and elective hernia surgery, and urogynecology.
  • The relationships between our physicians and patients is an essential part of the care we provide, and we are relying on our clinicians to follow these guidelines and exercise their best professional judgment. If a physician and patient determine a procedure cannot be postponed, it may be performed.
  • Cleveland Clinic Florida has already begun to contact patients who have nonessential procedures scheduled to discuss next steps.
Q: What restrictions are in place for visitors going to Cleveland Clinic facilities?

A: Inpatient Locations: For all hospital locations in Ohio and Florida, we are restricting all visitors.

Exceptions will be made for the following patients:

  • Pediatric patients (1 visitor)
  • Labor & Delivery patients (1 visitor)
  • End-of-life circumstances (patient’s care team will discuss with their family)

All other visitors will be asked to leave the hospital. As we continue to navigate the best ways to contain the spread of COVID-19, we understand these changes are difficult and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Outpatient Locations: For all family health centers, medical office buildings and physician offices in Ohio and Florida, we are restricting visitors following these guidelines:

  • At this time, no guests or visitors are permitted to accompany adult patients, unless special assistance is required.
  • Pediatric patients, elderly patients and those with special needs are permitted to bring no more than one guest. No more than two guests will be permitted per family or group.
  • Visitors who are sick, have a fever, or a confirmed case of COVID-19 should not visit or accompany a patient.
  • Visitors must wash their hands (or use sanitizer) before and after entering clinical areas and waiting rooms.

These restrictions are being put in place for the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Thank you for understanding.

Q: I have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic. What do I need to bring?

A:When entering any Cleveland Clinic facility, please have your appointment reminder from email, MyChart or text message to show.

On-Site Testing for Ohio Locations

Q: Is there an online screening tool available?

A: Yes. Cleveland Clinic launched a free COVID-19 screening tool to find out your risk level based on symptoms and travel.

 Follow these steps:

  • Visit
  • Click “Start your screening now”
  • A questionnaire window will open
  • Answer questions to receive your recommendations
Q: What patients are being prioritized for testing?

A: COVID-19 testing will focus on high-risk patients. These are symptomatic patients who also have one of the following criteria:

  • Patients 61 & older
  • Patients under 36 months
  • On immunosuppressive therapy
  • Cancer
  • End-stage renal disease and are on dialysis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure reduced ejection fraction
  • Lung disease
  • Contact with a known COVID-19 patient
  • Solid organ transplants

These patients will continue to be tested at the W.O. Walker testing facility with a Cleveland Clinic physician’s order.

Q: What if I am not a high-risk patient and need to receive testing?

A: For patients aged 3 – 60, who already have a Cleveland Clinic physician’s order, we are re-evaluating our ability to provide COVID-19 testing and are asking they not report to the W.O. Walker testing facility until they are contacted by Cleveland Clinic with further instructions.

Q: If I’m a candidate for testing, where should I go? 

A: Ohio:
On-site drive-through testing for patients is located in the garage of the W.O. Walker Building. Patients will be tested, by appointment only, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The W.O. Walker testing facility is located at 10524 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.

Directions to Testing Location:

W.O. Walker Building
10524 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44195
Patients should enter the garage from E. 105th St.

On-site testing is located at Martin North Hospital and Tradition Hospital for COVID-19 by appointment only. Testing is open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Please Note: To receive an appointment, individuals who believe they may have symptoms of COVID-19 must first call a nurse triage hotline at 772.419.3360, between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

On-site testing is located at Indian River Hospital for COVID-19 by appointment only. Testing is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Please Note: To receive an appointment, individuals who believe they may have symptoms of COVID-19 must first call our nurse triage hotline at 772.226.4846 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Directions to Testing Locations:

Martin North Hospital
200 SE Hospital Ave.
Stuart , Florida 34994

Tradition Hospital
10000 SW Innovation Way
Port St. Lucie , Florida 34987

Indian River Hospital
1000 36th Street
Vero Beach, Florida 32960

Q: How long will results from a COVID-19 test take?

A: For patients in the hospital, and those tested in our Emergency Departments who are considered very ill or at risk, results are available on average within 24 hours.

For patients being tested at our drive-thru facility, results are available on average within 5 – 10 days. Patients are asked to remain at home until their test results are released. Once processed, COVID-19 test results will now be available immediately in a patient’s MyChart, our secure online health management tool.

Q:  What do I do if I have flu-like symptoms and think I have been exposed to COVID-19?

A: Based on your symptoms, do the following:

  • If you’re concerned you have COVID-19, we recommend you start with a virtual visit using Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online, an eVisit questionnaire in MyChart*, or call or message your primary care physician. You will be advised what to do next.
  • Call ahead before going in person to any Cleveland Clinic location.
  • If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, a severe headache or other potentially life-threatening problems, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911.
  • For questions, Call Ohio Department of Health’s 24/7 hotline at 833.4.ASK.ODH.
  • Cleveland Clinic patients call 855.697.3750.* For eVisits: Patients must be a current MyChart user and in the state of Ohio. After completing a questionnaire, Cleveland Clinic providers will review your submitted answers and evaluate your illness. If the provider suspects you may be infected with COVID-19, they will determine the most appropriate place to send you for testing, ensure you get the right care and minimize spread.

Q: Who is screening patients?

A: We are following CDC recommendations on screening for travel from high-risk countries. As part of the intake process, travel questions have been added to outpatient visits. Travel screenings are part of the standard process for inpatients.

Screening is occurring in the following ways:

  • Travel screening is now performed at check-in, registration and during scheduling.
  • It has also been added to the outpatient rooming and inpatient admissions workflows.
  • Clinicians in Emergency Departments, labor and delivery and surgical areas will continue to complete travel screenings as a part of their standard workflows.
  • These questions are also asked at check-in kiosks and through MyChart’s pre-check-in feature.
  • In our intensive care units for patients with severe lower respiratory infections.


Q: Is Cleveland Clinic concerned about shortages of any medical supplies or medications?

A: As of March 19th at 11:00 a.m., we have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
We also have a supply of testing swabs on hand. However, we did not anticipate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Italy, where the swabs are manufactured. We hope to continue to receive additional testing supplies, which will be a key part of our decision-making in the future.
Cleveland Clinic is following Ohio guidelines to postpone non-essential surgeries and procedures. This supports statewide efforts to conserve hospital beds, equipment and supplies.

Q: How can members of the community in Ohio help with supplies?

A: In response to the Northeast Ohio community’s generous requests to provide assistance during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, Cleveland Clinic launched a COVID-19 Community Response Campaign.

Q: Where can I find more information from Cleveland Clinic?

A: The latest information on COVID-19 can be found on the CDC’s website and at

Q: Is there a hotline I can call for more information on COVID-19?

A: Cleveland Clinic has a dedicated, 24/7 COVID-19 hotline to answer your questions at 855.697.3750. The Ohio Department of Health also has set up a COVID-19 hotline (1-833-4-ASK-ODH) for those with questions or concerns.


For the latest information on travel information, alerts and warnings, please visit the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel website.

Q: What if my family member traveled from a country or had a layover in a country with widespread or sustained transmission in the last 14 days?

A: If your family member traveled from or had a layover in a CDC-designated high-risk country in the last 14 days and feels sick with fever, cough, diarrhea or has difficulty breathing, visit Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online or call or message your primary care physician.

Your family member should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before they go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about their recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • They should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Q: Are their current recommendations on international travel for personal reasons?

A: Yes, on March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory. This Level 4 advisory instructs U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.


Additional State and National Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ohio Department of Health

Florida Health

Southern Nevada Health District

Additional Global Resources:

World Health Organization 

Government of Canada 

Ontario – Ministry of Health 

Public Health England 


About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at and News and resources available at

 Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.