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

Updated October 19, 2020

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 October 19, 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 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 your eyes. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

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

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

Prevention

Q: How can I best protect myself?

A: Practice the following:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Learn more about why it is important to wear a mask

Q: I have a chronic condition that puts me at high risk. How can I best protect myself?

A: Unfortunately, there is not yet a vaccine that can prevent COVID-19, so we cannot prevent the disease.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, so we are just learning how it impacts specific groups of high-risk people. But, those who are thought to be most susceptible to serious complications of COVID-19 include people who:

  • Are over age 65.
  • Have cancer.
  • Have hypertension.
  • Have lung disease.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have heart disease.
  • Have another condition that compromises the immune system.
  • Are taking medications that suppress the immune system.

But there are things you can do to minimize your risk if you have a weakened immune system or are immunocompromised.

Find out what steps you should take if you’re considered high risk

Q: Are certain racial or ethnic groups at a higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19?

A: African Americans are more likely to acquire and die from complications of the COVID-19 virus because Blacks suffer from higher rates of chronic medical conditions like diabetes and obesity, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease and asthma. All of these lower the immune system and the ability to fight off viruses. Additionally, lifestyle factors like being an essential worker and even using public transportation increase the risk of getting COVID-19.

Q: What safety measures does Cleveland Clinic have in place 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 masks to patients, visitors, caregivers and vendors, limiting access into our facilities, limiting visitation, canceling public events and checking the temperature of everyone who enters our doors.

Appointments & Access

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 to our facilities.
  • Screening everyone for potential COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Providing essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers.
  • Practicing physical distancing.
  • Expanding testing capabilities.
  • Continuing to clean and disinfect surfaces frequently.
  • Requiring our caregivers to wear face shields and masks in clinical areas.
  • Requiring permitted visitors to wear masks at all times while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one.
  • Requiring patients to wear a mask for all routine appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay), and in the Emergency Department, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one.
  • Strongly encouraging hospitalized patients to wear a mask inside our facilities.

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

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 requiring all caregivers in all our locations to wear face masks while inside our facilities.

Face masks are required for patients at all routine appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay), Emergency Department patients, and permitted visitors. Face masks are strongly encouraged for patients admitted to the hospital, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. 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. Wearing a mask is not only an effort to protect yourself, but also to help protect others.

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

A: Please bring your appointment reminder with you (email, MyChart or text message). When entering any Cleveland Clinic location, you and any permitted visitors (see visitor restrictions) 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 might not even notice. You’ll be asked to sanitize your hands.

For a routine appointment or procedure (without a hospital stay, and Emergency Department visits, patients are required to wear a mask while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. Patients admitted to the hospital are strongly encouraged to wear a mask while inside our Ohio and Florida facilities. Masks from home may be worn, or masks will be provided at entrances.

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

A: We have taken a number of steps to ensure our facilities are safe to protect our caregivers and patients and help limit the spread of COVID-19.  As the pandemic continues, we designed visitation policy that will adjust as COVID fluctuates within our states. Please see our current visitor restrictions.

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 required to wear a mask, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. This is 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.

Visitor Guidelines

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

A. We’re using four new, statewide visitation levels — yellow, orange, red and purple — to protect our patients and caregivers and limit the spread of COVID-19. The visitation levels are based on data about how COVID-19 is spreading, including state and county public health information. If you are visiting a COVID-19 positive patient, you must wear provided personal protective equipment (PPE). Even when you can’t visit in person, we encourage you to stay connected virtually.

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

Please note: All visitors must wear a mask, have their temperature taken and sanitize their hands. Visitation guidelines are subject to change if safe physical distancing isn’t possible.

Please note: Patients must follow all social distancing and masking guidelines.

Please note: A patient’s care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Patients may choose one individual (18 or older) to be their designated visitor. That designated visitor may visit each day during the patient’s hospital stay.

Please note: A patient’s care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Patients may choose one individual (18 or older) to be their designated visitor. That designated visitor may visit each day during the patient’s hospital stay.

**Special assistance is any circumstance where a patient’s care team determines that a visitor is critical to physical or emotional care.

Please note: A patient’s care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Special assistance is any circumstance where a patient’s care team determines that a visitor is critical to physical or emotional care.

Visitor Guidelines for Locations Other Than Ohio and Florida:

For All Permitted Visitors:

  • Anyone who is sick, has a fever, or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 28 days should not visit or accompany a patient.
  • Visitors must be over 18 and be fever- and symptom-free.
  • All visitors to patients with COVID-19 must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • All visitors are required to wear a mask while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. Masks from home may be worn, or masks will be provided at entrances.
  • Visitors to hospital settings will not be permitted to enter our facilities between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. unless a compassionate exception applies.
  • Designated visitors must show a photo ID at the entrance to verify identity.
  • Upon entering our facilities, visitors will continue to be thermal screened, required to wear a mask, asked screening questions upon entry into Ohio locations and asked to sanitize their hands before and after entering clinical areas and waiting rooms.
  • To help maintain physical distancing, visitors must limit the number of items they bring when visiting a patient at our facilities.

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: Cleveland Clinic is providing drive-up and on-site testing for patients suspected of having COVID-19. Patients will need to be evaluated by a clinician using Cleveland Clinic Express Care Online or in-person, and will need a Cleveland Clinic electronic doctor’s order to be tested.

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: Why do I need a test when I’m not showing any symptoms?

A: One way we maintain a safe environment for our patients and caregivers is by requiring patients to undergo COVID-19 testing within three days prior to any surgery or procedure in a Cleveland Clinic operating room, ambulatory surgery center and select locations.

Recently published data in The Lancet supports our pre-operative testing requirement. The study found that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 were at higher risk of post-operative complications. By requiring patients to complete pre-operative testing, we help protect our patients and caregivers.

Q: How do I get a COVID-19 test if required pre-surgery?

A: All patients with scheduled surgeries or procedures taking place in a Cleveland Clinic ambulatory surgery center or operating room will be tested for COVID-19 within three days, or 72 hours, prior to their surgery or procedure date. When a surgery or procedure is scheduled, a COVID-19 test will also be ordered.

We have several testing locations, throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida, designated for patients who have an upcoming surgery or procedure. An appointment for the COVID-19 test will be scheduled at a location and time most convenient for the patient.

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, at Akron General Akron Health Center and at Cleveland Clinic’s Akron General Health and Wellness Center in Green.

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.

Testing hours:
Daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Akron General Akron Health Center
676 South Broadway St.
Akron , Ohio 44311

Testing hours:
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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

Testing hours:
6 days a week (closed Thursdays), 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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.

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 (Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • 772.419.3360 – Martin Health (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • 772.226.4846 – Indian River Hospital (Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

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

Patients who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be given an appointment and directed to the testing location.

At Cleveland Clinic Weston, anyone over the age of 16 who has COVID-19 symptoms, as defined by the CDC, is eligible for testing.
At Cleveland Clinic Martin Health and Cleveland Clinic Indian River, anyone over the age of 5 who has COVID-19 symptoms, as defined by the CDC, is eligible for testing.

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.

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.