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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

What is the Coronavirus Disease 2019?

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus was not previously known to cause human illness until the recent outbreak. It is believed that the virus was initially transmitted to humans from a wild animal. Human-to-human transmission is now the most common route of transmission.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Similar to many viral respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of the virus mimic the common cold and include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear between two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Also be mindful that we are in flu season and pollen counts are high, so there are many other causes for upper respiratory symptoms that are much more common than COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

As with any viral respiratory illness, COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small respiratory droplets, which are dispersed when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes and are then inhaled by another person. These droplets can also land on objects and surfaces around the infected person. Other people then catch the virus by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

How do I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent the spread of germs is proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Below are some other tips:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and perform hand hygiene immediately.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Based on CDC guidelines, if you think you may have COVID-19 and are experiencing minor symptoms, Memorial Hermann recommends you self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days and utilize virtual care options to consult with a healthcare provider. For severe symptoms, call ahead to your local Emergency Center prior to arriving or dial 911 if you need emergent care.

How can I be tested for COVID-19?

There are a limited number of COVID-19 test kits available nationwide. To determine who gets tested for the virus, Memorial Hermann follows Public Health guidelines, which includes evaluating for relevant symptoms, travel history and potential exposure. If you suspect you may have COVID-19 and would like to consult with a healthcare provider, you are encouraged to use telemedicine and virtual care options.

What happens if I test positive for Coronavirus?

If a patient is confirmed with COVID-19, the decision to hospitalize the patient or recommend self-quarantine will be made in consultation with healthcare providers.

Will taking Tamiflu help me protect myself from getting COVID-19?

No, Tamiflu will not protect you from getting the novel coronavirus. Tamiflu is a drug to treat the flu, not a vaccine. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers internationally have been working to develop antivirals, but at the present time, there is no specific treatment or vaccine.

How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

Should I be concerned about contracting the Coronavirus?

If you are not in an area where the coronavirus is spreading, or if you have not traveled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting the novel virus are currently low.

How does COVID-19 compare to other Coronaviruses?

There are several common coronaviruses that typically cause respiratory illness, like the common cold. Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild infection to severe respiratory illness.

Is it safe to receive mail from any areas with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is extremely low and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also extremely low.

How can I make a donation of personal protective equipment to Memorial Hermann?

Memorial Hermann Health System is accepting donations of personal protective equipment and disinfectant products that are utilized across health care, oil and gas, chemical, industrial painting industries and other industries across the region. Memorial Hermann has a steady supply of personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers, and donations will help maintain that steady supply. In addition to accepting donations, Memorial Hermann has implemented proactive efforts to conserve our resources for the sickest and most vulnerable of our patients such as the cancellation of elective surgeries. 

Donated items should be unused and unopened. All items will be inspected before distributing to care delivery sites within the Memorial Hermann Health System. Members of the community that are interested in donating are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing when dropping off items. Donations can be dropped off at the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza located at 7500 Beechnut Suite 160 from 9am-2pm Monday – Friday.

Below are items that are being accepted:

  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Bleach Wipes
  • Face Shields
  • Isolation Gowns
  • Medical Grade N95 Masks
  • Sanitation Wipes
  • Sanitizer with CDC requirement of 60% or higher
  • Shoe and Boot Covers
  • Surgical Masks

For more information on making a donation or for questions, email donations@memorialhermann.org

To make a philanthropic contribution, please visit our donation page.

How may I offer assistance and say thank you to the many Memorial Hermann employees working tirelessly to care for the Greater Houston community?

We appreciate your thoughtfulness. With school closures and mandated stay home orders, our care providers are playing an increasingly demanding role at home. If you’re interested in assisting with childcare for families in need, visit Memorial Hermann Childcare Connect.

How is Memorial Hermann protecting patients, visitors and staff from Coronavirus?

Memorial Hermann continues to take proactive steps to protect our employees, physician partners, patients and community by implementing a workforce protocol based on CDC guidelines. This protocol includes screening members of our workforce who have traveled to affected areas, per the CDC, within the applicable time period, or who have had contact with someone who is under investigation for COVID-19 or has been confirmed with the virus. Based on screening results, we will then provide information on immediate next-level care or mandatory leave for employees for up to 14 days, as necessary.

What is Memorial Hermann doing to prevent the potential spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to patients, visitors and physicians?

To further protect the health of our patients, workforce and the community, and prevent the potential spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Memorial Hermann is modifying its visitor policy and implementing a restricted access protocol across all Memorial Hermann acute-care and rehabilitation hospitals and Convenient Care Centers, effective Tuesday, March, 10, at 7 a.m. until further notice. Learn more here.

What is Memorial Hermann doing to screen for COVID-19 and prevent exposure?

Memorial Hermann’s workforce has been trained to identify, isolate and treat individuals with infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The System has isolation policies and rooms across its hospitals designed to appropriately and effectively care for these patients while safeguarding others from exposure. In addition, our clinicians and physicians who provide direct patient care to affected individuals have been trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including a gown, gloves, face shield and a mask. Historical outbreaks of other infectious diseases, such as swine flu, Ebola and Zika, have strengthened Memorial Hermann’s ability to respond to infectious disease situations in terms of readiness and preparedness.

Does Memorial Hermann have the resources to handle a large COVID-19 outbreak?

Memorial Hermann is actively partnering with city and county officials, as well as other medical institutions in the Greater Houston area, to coordinate efforts and ensure our community stays safe and healthy.

Who may I contact with questions on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) when my physician is not available?

If you have questions regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Houston Health Department call center is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will also return voice messages left after hours on the following day.

Houstonians can call the center at 832-393-4220 and talk to department staff to obtain information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).