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

Updated June 3, 2020, at 4:30 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 June 3, 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 eyes. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills.
  • Fever.
  • Muscle pain.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.

Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

This list is not all inclusive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Q: How is COVID-19 treated?

A:  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. The FDA also granted an emergency use authorization for an investigational antiviral drug remdesivir for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Prevention

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 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.
  • Wear a face mask to protect yourself and others when you’re out in public.
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people. Avoid crowds and groups of people.
  • 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 out in public?

A: The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public, especially in places where it’s hard to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and another person. Face masks are being recommended because we now know individuals with COVID-19 could have mild or no symptoms, while still spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask does not replace the need for physical distancing.

The cloth face coverings recommended by the CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.

Q: Why should I wear a face mask?

A: The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks for the following reasons:

  • A cloth mask can help individuals cover a cough or sneeze; reducing the spread of germs.
  • A cloth mask will not prevent you from breathing in respiratory droplets which carry a virus, like COVID-19.
  • Some people with COVID-19 have mild to no symptoms, and may be spreading the virus unknowingly. Cloth masks could help cut down how far the virus spreads.
  • Cloth masks can prevent you from touching your face, and can be a visual reminder to practice social distancing.

Learn more about why it is important to wear a mask

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.

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. 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.

Access and Visitor Restrictions in Ohio Locations 

Q: Are all Cleveland Clinic emergency departments open?

A: Yes, all Cleveland Clinic emergency departments remain open for care. We encourage the public to seek immediate medical attention for symptoms that suggest serious medical emergencies, such as stroke or heart attack. All patients coming to our emergency departments are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and are provided a mask to help maintain the health and safety of our patients and caregivers and prevent the spread of the virus. Any patients with COVID-19 symptoms are taken to a designated area within the emergency department for care.

Q: I have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic, and I am concerned about COVID-19. What safety measures are in place to protect me?

A: The safety of our patients and caregivers remains our top priority. We want to assure patients that our Cleveland Clinic facilities are safe for them to receive care. We have taken steps to increase safety by limiting visitors, screening everyone for potential COVID-19 symptoms, providing essential Personal Protective Equipment for caregivers, practicing physical distancing, expanding testing capabilities and continuing to clean our facilities extensively. We are also requiring our caregivers to wear masks while at work, and strongly recommending patients and permitted visitors wear face masks at our facilities.

If you are unsure about keeping your appointment, contact your physician’s office to see if other options are available.

For patients who require a physical exam, in-person appointments will remain as scheduled.

Our clinicians are meeting regularly to closely monitor this evolving situation. If you have a fever, cough, diarrhea or shortness of breath, or are otherwise concerned you have COVID-19, we ask you do not come to any Cleveland Clinic facility. Start with a virtual visit using Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online, an eVisit questionnaire in MyChart or call your primary care physician. Patients will then be evaluated to determine if they require being seen in person or if they meet CDC guidelines for COVID-19 testing based on symptoms, travel and exposures. If a patient meets criteria for testing, their provider or primary care physician will advise them with next best steps.

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: How are pediatric hospital services affected?

A: After a brief suspension in services to prepare for a potential surge in adult patients with COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic Children’s has resumed full pediatric inpatient care at Fairview Hospital.

The pediatric emergency departments, newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) at Fairview and Hillcrest hospitals have remained open, as has the pediatric psychiatry unit at Fairview Hospital. Full pediatric care is also available at Cleveland Clinic Children’s main campus, Hillcrest Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation.

Q: When is Cleveland Clinic resuming appointments, and how will I know if my scheduled surgery or procedure changes?

A: For Ohio and Florida: We’ve resumed outpatient appointments, surgeries and procedures that were paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Ohio, we are reinstating all surgeries and procedures in a phased approach under Ohio Department of Health guidelines. In Florida, we are adding surgeries and procedures to those we were still performing under the Florida Department of Health guidelines that were deemed medically necessary.

If your appointment or procedure was delayed, we’ll reach out to you to reschedule. You can also visit our Appointments & Access page for up-to-date information.

If you have a surgery or procedure scheduled that will be performed in any of our ambulatory surgery centers or operating rooms, you will be tested for COVID-19 beforehand.

If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, only an urgent or emergency procedure will be performed due to increased health risks.

Q: What restrictions are in place for visitors going to Cleveland Clinic facilities?

A: Ohio:
For all hospital locations in Ohio, we are restricting all visitors.

Exceptions will be made for the following patients:

Pediatrics
One parent visitor daily during inpatient stay.

End of life
Pediatrics
Two parent (caregiver) visitors for end of life, single in-person visit.

Adult
Single in-person visit.

Emergency change in condition
Patients who are COVID-19 positive or under investigation for COVID-19: single in-person visit.
Patients who are COVID-19 negative: one visitor outside room, single in-person visit.

Emergent admission
Single in-person visit.

Life changing diagnosis
Single in-person visit.

Discharge
Patients who are COVID-19 positive or under investigation for COVID-19: single in-person pick-up.
Patients who are COVID-19 negative: single in-person visit and pick-up.

Labor and Delivery
Single in-person visit during labor.

Surgery requiring an overnight stay
Single visitor on the day-of surgery and a single visitor on the day after surgery. 

Please note: A visit is being defined as having one, single visitor in the patient’s room during visiting hours. The visitor may not leave and later re-enter the room.

We will temperature screen all visitors prior to entering our facilities, as well as ask them to respect social distancing and practice hand hygiene.

All visitors are strongly encouraged to wear masks at all times while inside our facilities. Permitted visitors may bring their own mask from home, or masks will be provided to them upon entering our facilities. Visitors to patients with COVID-19 must wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Florida:
For all hospital locations in Florida, we are restricting all visitors.

Exceptions will be made for the following patients:

  • Pediatric patients (1 visitor)
  • Labor & Delivery patients (1 visitor)
  • Surgery requiring an overnight stay (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 in Ohio and Florida: 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 or your provider has asked you to bring a responsible adult to your appointment or procedure (this includes all infusion treatments).
  • Special assistance can include, but is not limited to: driver for ambulatory procedures, support person to manage a wheelchair or other special needs or an individual to help provide life changing diagnosis information.
  • Pediatric patients, elderly patients and those with special needs are permitted to bring no more than one guest.
  • 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.
  • Face masks are strongly recommended for patients and visitors/companions.

In Florida: Visitors are allowed to accompany oncology patients at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health and Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, unless they are going to the infusion center.

These restrictions are being put in place for the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Social distancing must be maintained in these areas.

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

A: Please bring your appointment reminder from email, MyChart or text message.
When entering our facilities, patients and permitted visitors will be screened for potential COVID-19 symptoms including a temperature scan (in some locations, we use no-contact, hand-held thermal scanners. In other places, we use a thermal imaging system you walk through and may not even notice). They will be asked to sanitize their hands and will be provided a mask, we strongly recommend they wear it the entire time they are in our facilities. They may choose to bring their own masks from home.

COVID-19 Testing 

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 ClevelandClinic.org
  • 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
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Solid organ transplants

These patients will continue to be tested at Cleveland Clinic testing sites with a Cleveland Clinic physician’s order.

All patients with scheduled surgeries or procedures that will take place in an ambulatory surgery center or operating room will be tested for COVID-19 before their surgery or procedure. They will be given a date and time for a testing appointment. We have several testing locations throughout northeast Ohio, and will work with the patient to schedule an appointment at a location most convenient for them.

Testing is open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week. A Cleveland Clinic electronic provider’s order is required for COVID-19 testing.

It will be important to practice the following precautions to help prevent COVID-19 until the test result comes back and until the time of surgery:

  • 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.
  • Practice social and physical distancing by staying 6 feet away from others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public, especially in places where it’s hard to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and another person. Face masks are being recommended because we now know individuals with COVID-19 could have mild or no symptoms, while still spreading the virus to others. Wearing a face mask does not replace the need for physical distancing.
  • Standard household cleansers and wipes are effective in cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
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 testing facilities until they are contacted by Cleveland Clinic with further instructions.

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

A: Ohio:

Testing Locations:

On-site testing is located in the garage of the W.O. Walker Building at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, and at Cleveland Clinic’s Akron General Health and Wellness Center in Green. Testing is open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Please Note: A Cleveland Clinic electronic provider’s order is required for COVID-19 testing.

Directions to Testing Locations:

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

Akron General Health and Wellness Center, Green
1940 Town Park Blvd.
Uniontown, OH 44685

Florida:

Cleveland Clinic is providing drive-through COVID-19 testing for patients in Florida. Individuals must have an appointment in order to be tested.

Testing Locations

On-site testing is located at  Weston Hospital, Martin North Hospital in Stuart, Martin Health at St. Lucie West and Indian River Hospital in Vero Beach. We are also now providing testing at South County Civic Center in Delray Beach.

Please Note: An appointment from Cleveland Clinic Florida is required for COVID-19 testing.

What is the process for getting tested?

Only patients with an appointment will be seen at the drive-through testing. Patients should start by calling our nurse triage hotline to schedule their appointment for testing:

  • 954.659.5951 – Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital
  • 772.419.3360 – Martin Health (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • 772.226.4846 – Indian River Hospital (7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Daily)
  • 561.804.0250 – South County Civic Center (7 a.m.-7p.m., Daily)

The caller will be screened by a nurse who will determine if they meet criteria for testing.

Patients who meet criteria for COVID-19 testing will be given an appointment and directed to the testing location. Anyone over the age of 16 who has a fever and respiratory illness (such as cough, runny nose, sneezing) or any patient with a fever and gastrointestinal illness (such as diarrhea, vomiting) is eligible for testing.

When patients arrive at the drive-through, they will first have their temperature taken. Patients who do not have a fever will NOT be tested.

Directions and Hours for Testing Locations:

Weston Hospital 
First Floor
2950 Cleveland Clinic Blvd.
Weston, Florida 33331

Testing Hours:
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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

Testing Hours:
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, 9 a.m. 1 p.m.

Martin Health at St. Lucie West
1095 NW St. Lucie West Blvd.
Port St. Lucie, Florida 34986

Testing Hours:
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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

Testing Hours:
Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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 a few 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 have your symptoms evaluated, ensuring you get the right care and minimizing spread.

Q: How are patients being screened for COVID-19?

A: We are following CDC recommendations on screening all Cleveland Clinic patients for potential COVID-19 symptoms and travel from high-risk countries.

Screening occurs when you enter any Cleveland Clinic facility and in these areas:

  • Check-in, registration and scheduling.
  • Emergency departments, labor and delivery and surgical areas.
  • Check-in kiosks and MyChart’s pre-check-in feature.
  • Intensive care units.

Preparedness

Q: What safety measures has Cleveland Clinic implemented to help ensure the safety of patients who need care?

A: During this unprecedented time, Cleveland Clinic has taken a number of steps to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our hospitals are safe for caregivers and patients. This includes providing appropriate personal protective equipment for caregivers, offering face masks to patients, visitors, caregivers and vendors, limiting access into our facilities, restricting visitation, canceling public events and performing temperature checks on everyone who enters our doors. Checking temperature for a fever is an additional step to help keep our patients and caregivers safe. In some locations, we use no-contact, hand-held thermal scanners. In other places, we use a thermal imaging system people walk through and might not even notice.

Q: How is Cleveland Clinic preparing for a surge of patients with COVID-19?

A: We continue to see COVID-19 patients admitted throughout our health system. None of our hospitals are at or over capacity at this time.

We continue to be prepared for a potential surge of patients with COVID-19.

As part of this, Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University temporarily converted the main building on the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic into a fully functioning surge hospital to treat COVID-19 patients not requiring high levels of care but who are in need of hospitalization.

Q: What are Cleveland Clinic’s mask guidelines?

A: As we learn more about COVID-19 and its transmission, we are adapting our practices in order to provide the safest care to our patients and protect our caregivers. In alignment with guidelines from the CDC and direction from our state and local governments, we are now requiring all caregivers, in all our locations, to wear face masks in areas where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not required.

Face masks are strongly recommended for patients and visitors/companions. Patients and permitted visitors will be given a mask to wear the entire time they are in our facilities. They may choose to bring their own masks from home.

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 ClevelandClinic.org.

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.

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 clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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