Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Posted on January 24, 2020

In light of recent publicity about the coronavirus outbreak in China, here is information* you may find helpful. At Covenant Health, we pledge to put the health and safety of our communities first. We are continually monitoring novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and have implemented appropriate screening and treatment procedures for our patients. 

 What is a coronavirus?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, coronaviruses are common throughout the world. They can infect people and animals. Among humans, coronaviruses usually cause mild-to-moderate upper respiratory illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives.
  • Sometimes coronaviruses can evolve or mutate. The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan City in China is an example of a mutated strain of coronavirus. It is called novel coronavirus or  COVID-19.
  • Examples of more serious strains of coronavirus that have occurred in recent years are SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, 2002-2003) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, 2012)

How serious is the current coronavirus outbreak?

  • COVID-19 is contagious and transmissible from human to human. 
  • Since Jan. 21, 2020,  the CDC has confirmed 15 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in the U.S. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild-to-severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

What should I do if I develop respiratory symptoms?

  • If you think you have been exposed to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and you experience symptoms such as fever, lingering cough or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Tell him or her about any recent travel or contact with animals. Your healthcare provider can confirm the presence of the virus through testing. When you arrive at your healthcare provider’s location, alert the reception staff so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
  • There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. COVID-19 is a virus and will not respond to antibiotics. Anyone infected with COVID-19 should rest, drink fluids, and use medications as recommended for symptom relief. Take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to others.

How do I keep from catching COVID-19?

  • Follow the steps that you would use to prevent other respiratory viruses such as cold and flu, including:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home if you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • In addition, get a flu shot to help protect you against influenza. In contrast to novel coronavirus, there have been 15-21 million cases of flu in the United States between Oct. 1, 2019 and Jan. 18, 2020, resulting in between 8,200-20,000 deaths.


At Covenant Health, we pledge to put the health and safety of our patients and communities first. We continue to follow information updates and guidelines from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and state/local health departments related to novel coronavirus or COVID-19. Our member hospitals and clinics have implemented appropriate protocols and procedures for identifying and treating COVID-19, and we continually take all necessary steps to protect our patients and communities from contagious diseases and infections.


(*Information compiled from Covenant Health’s chief medical officer, chief nursing officer, infectious disease specialist and the Centers for Disease Control)