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, and COVID-19 is now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning there is transmission in multiple regions around the world. COVID-19 is active in the United States and Houston area.

Many of the symptoms of the virus mimic the common cold and include a wide range of illness from mild symptoms to severe respiratory illness Symptoms may appear between 24 hours and 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may be similar to other viral respiratory illnesses and include:

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

Also be mindful that we will be entering flu season and pollen counts are high with seasonal changes, so there are many other causes for upper respiratory symptoms.

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 or come in contact with their mouth, nose or eyes. 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.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent the spread of germs is making, social distancing and 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.
  • Practice social distancing, remain at least 6 feet away from individuals who do not live in your home and avoiding large gatherings.
  • Wear a mask or face covering when in public.
  • 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.

Based on CDC guidelines, if you think you may have COVID-19 and are experiencing minor symptoms, Memorial Hermann recommends you utilize virtual care options to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if testing for COVID-19 is appropriate and self-quarantine at home for at least 10 days after the start of symptoms, if you do not have a negative COVID test result. For severe symptoms, call ahead to your local Emergency Center prior to arriving or dial 911 if you need emergent care.

Memorial Hermann follows Public Health guidelines for COVID-19 testing, which includes evaluating for relevant symptoms, 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

The Houston Health Department also provides free community COVID-19 testing.  A complete list of testing sites and times can be found here.

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

No, Tamiflu will not protect you from getting COVID-19. 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 test and develop antiviral medications and vaccines.

COVID-19 is actively spreading in our region, and there are a number of community and public health measures that have been implemented to control and slow the spread, including masking orders, school and business closures, and reducing crowding in public areas.  While most cases of coronavirus are mild, certain groups are at much higher risk of severe illness. Adults over 50 and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

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. Frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces with approved cleaners is recommended. If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

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.

Memorial Hermann Health System is not currently accepting donations of personal protective equipment and disinfectant products. Memorial Hermann currently has a steady supply of personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers.

For more information on making a donation or for questions, email

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

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.

Memorial Hermann continues to take proactive steps to protect our employees, physician partners, patients and community by implementing a protocol based on CDC guidelines and local and state recommendations.

  • We screen every individual entering our facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to reduce the risk of actively infected individuals coming in contact with patients and staff.
  • All staff and visitors are required to wear a mask while at Memorial Hermann locations.
  • We have implemented measures to support social distancing and have increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of all common areas.

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 has modified its visitor policy and implemented a restricted access protocol across all Memorial Hermann acute-care and rehabilitation hospitals and Convenient Care Centers. Learn more here.

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 gowns, gloves, eye coverings and masks. 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.

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.

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).