We know you have lots of questions and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak around the world. That’s why, as a trusted academic health center, we’re providing fact-based information, reliable data and the latest, evidence-based recommendations.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 causes some symptoms that are similar to influenza (“the flu”) and other viral illnesses. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tiredness, body aches
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you have a fever (100.4 degrees or higher) and respiratory symptoms, contact your primary care provider before visiting a medical care facility.

If you have these symptoms, don’t panic. The vast majority of patients have mild/moderate symptoms and don't require hospitalization.

If you can’t reach a primary care provider or don’t have one, questions can be answered through the Ohio Department of Health’s hotline, open between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634)

If you're experiencing severe coronavirus symptoms, visit the Emergency Department. You can log in to your MyChart account to view current wait times at an Ohio State Emergency Department and let them know you’re on your way.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, emergency symptoms include:

  • Severe difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to wake up
  • Bluish lips or face

What should I do if I have an upcoming appointment with an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center provider?

We’re taking precautions to ensure a safe environment for all patients, visitors and staff. If you have flu-like symptoms, including fever or cough, and have an upcoming appointment, please call your provider to let them know. Please avoid visiting the hospitals or outpatient care locations if you have flu-like symptoms, including fever or cough.

How is the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center prepared for COVID-19?

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center team routinely works closely with local and state public health officials to coordinate our response to these types of outbreaks based on recommendations from the CDC.

  • If a recent traveler to an affected area develops symptoms of COVID-19, the local health department who is working with the patient will alert the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center team that the patient is ill.
  • The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is prepared to care for these patients in private treatment rooms with special ventilation (negative airflow) to prevent the spread of any infection.
  • Our clinicians and staff wear special protective equipment when gathering samples for viral testing and treating the patient.
  • These patients will also be tested for influenza and other viral illnesses that can have similar symptoms and are currently much more common in the U.S.
  • Testing for COVID-19 can be performed only with the approval of the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC.
  • In the event of a local COVID-19 outbreak, the medical center will implement our emergency preparedness plan in accordance with the standardized Hospital Incident Command System.
  • Staff have begun screening all visitors and patients at many medical facility entrances to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Health care food service operations are exempt from the government order to close dining spaces in restaurants and bars, so our hospital café seating areas remain open. However, most chairs have been removed from tables to encourage social distancing, self-serve stations are closed, and we’ve increased the number of single-serve and grab-and-go options for faculty, staff, patients and visitors.
  • Ohio State University and Ohio State Wexner Medical Center staff who are able have moved to working from home, and, where possible, in-person meetings have been canceled, postponed or moved to over-the-phone meetings.

Download: How Ohio State is preparing and what you can do

What if I’ve recently traveled to a COVID-19 affected country? What if I’ve been exposed to someone confirmed to have this coronavirus?

If you’re worried that you may have contracted COVID-19 but you’re not yet experiencing symptoms, contact your primary care provider for recommendations for your individual situation. If you can’t reach your primary care provider or don’t have one, you can call the Ohio Department of Health’s hotline, open between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

A trained medical professional will be able to assess your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others and your best next steps.

What should I do if I might have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’ve been exposed to someone but aren’t sure they have a confirmed case…
  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure
  • Call your primary care provider if you experience COVID-19 symptoms
If you’ve been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case…
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days (avoid being closer than six feet to others)
  • Call your primary care provider if you experience COVID-19 symptoms

What does it mean to quarantine

Those in quarantine should try to keep six to 10 feet of distance between themselves and another person, and avoid prolonged contact while in an enclosed space. They should also:

  1. sleep in a separate room from others
  2. practice strict cough etiquette (cover sneeze or cough with sleeve)
  3. practice strict hand hygiene
  4. avoid sharing utensils, dishware or drinking cups

As the CDC explains: “Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.”

What should I do if I have no symptoms and want to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Unless you’ve recently traveled to affected countries or have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, there’s no need to change any routine activities or behaviors related to the outbreak.

The CDC advises there’s no need to wear a mask unless you need to avoid spreading your own respiratory illness to others, or are caring for someone with COVID-19. Learn more about why you probably don’t need to wear a surgical mask.

In general, practicing routine hygiene etiquette is the best way to prevent the spread of infection:

  • Stay home when you're sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you sneeze or cough
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds or longer) or use alcohol hand rub if no soap and water are available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces
  • Clean and disinfect "high-touch" surfaces often

If you’re seriously ill, seek medical advice from a doctor or emergency department.

The latest information about COVID-19 in Ohio and beyond

(Updated 4/1/20) 

A significant viral outbreak of a new type of coronavirus named “2019 Novel Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” is affecting a large number of countries around the world, including the United States.

  • As of April 1, there are 2,547 confirmed cases in Ohio.

  • The Ohio State University has issued travel restrictions for all university-sponsored international travel. University-sponsored domestic air travel is limited to business essential travel and is approved on an as-needed basis. Ohio State has suspended face-to-face instruction and moved to virtual instruction through the remainder of Spring semester.

  • Call the ODH Hotline for questions about Coronavirus: 1-833-4ASKODH or 1-833-427-5634
  • We're taking precautions to ensure a safe environment for all patients, visitors and staff. If you have flu-like symptoms, including fever or cough, and have an upcoming appointment, please call your provider to let them know. Please avoid visiting the hospitals or ambulatory locations if you have flu-like symptoms, including fever or cough.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve implemented new visitor restrictions at our hospitals.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Based on current CDC guidance, person-to-person spread most likely occurs through respiratory droplets between people in close proximity, similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses.

  • Prolonged exposure within six feet of an infected person would put you at risk for getting the virus.
  • The period from exposure to symptom onset is believed to be within 14 days.
    • For example, if a person returned from an outbreak area more than 14 days ago, the person would be outside the window for disease onset.
  • Practicing routine hygiene practices daily is the best way to prevent the spread of infection:
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol hand rub regularly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with people that are sick.
    • Anyone who is ill should keep a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from others to reduce the risk of transmitting germs.
    • Stay home if you don’t feel well. If you’re seriously ill, seek medical attention.

Should I travel out of the country?

If you have international travel scheduled in the coming weeks – especially to affected countries – you should monitor travel warnings carefully prior to departure.

Who is most at risk for experiencing severe symptoms with COVID-19?

Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Other groups typically at higher risk of infectious disease, such as pregnant women and young children, aren’t currently considered high risk.

 

What should I do if I’m in one of the at-risk groups?

The CDC continues to update recommendations for immunocompromised individuals and those at higher risk for severe COVID-19.

 

I’m really anxious about the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do to cope?

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center mental health experts advise treating anxiety over COVID-19 the same way you would treat anxiety over any of life’s uncertainties.

They’ve provided a list of 10 tips to address coronavirus fears through mindfulness, reframing your thinking and using other coping strategies.