FAQs & Resources
Here are some up-to-date resources to help you stay healthy and answers to some commonly asked questions about COVID-19.
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Staying home during COVID-19 to protect yourself and your community
Coronavirus - What To Do If I’m Sick
Frequently Asked Questions
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which may cause respiratory infections in humans, from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Those affected may develop a fever, dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath. Less common symptoms are sneezing, sore throat and diarrhea. Some people have no symptoms at all, but can still pass on the virus. While the virus can’t be treated, some symptoms can - for example, some people need help with breathing when they have particularly bad cases. At least 80 percent of infected patients will experience minor symptoms and recover as they would from any cold or flu.
COVID-19 spreads through droplets in the air, so coughing and sneezing can spread to nearby people. It's likely that it can contaminate surfaces as well. The incubation period is thought to be 14 days, however this may change as more about the virus is understood.
There is currently no known proven treatment. There are some experimental drugs being studied. However, in more severe cases, patients can get supportive care (ex. oxygen, IV fluids, etc.), if needed.
The UVM Health Network's highest priority is to provide quality care to patients while maintaining a safe workspace for staff. Response protocols have been developed through the organization's significant experiences with similar health care scenarios. A multidisciplinary team is coordinating preparedness and tailoring plans as more information comes in from across the globe. The group includes front line health care providers, senior leadership, patient placement, supply management, industrial hygiene, staff educators, emergency preparedness practitioners, facilities management, pharmacy, communications, infection prevention and infectious disease. The UVM Health Network continues to remain up-to-date with current CDC, Vermont Department of Health and New York State Department of Health recommendations.
While symptoms have ranged from mild to severe (for those with preexisting health issues), the majority of people have a fairly mild respiratory illness. It is important to remember there are several other respiratory viruses active in our region including influenza. It’s not too late to get your flu shot! To protect older people, those with health conditions and health care providers, whose services will be needed to treat the sick, stay home when you can to avoid spreading the COVID-19. When you must go out to work or the grocery store, try to keep 6 feet distance from others.
How to Protect Yourself
While COVID-19 is front and center in the news, we are in the peak of flu season, and the basics of infection prevention remain paramount for all of us.
- Get a flu shot.
- If you’re sick, stay home.
- Practice vigilant hand hygiene. Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or portable alcohol hand sanitizer. Wash your hands before you eat.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
- If you have a fever or cough, stay home and do your best to isolate yourself from others in your home. If you need to go out, wear a mask.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Wash high-use surfaces every day.
These are simple things you can do to help prevent the spread of illness.
COVID-19 will spread across the world. We can’t stop it. What we can do is slow the spread of COVID-19 through each region so that hospitals are less overwhelmed, and thus better able to provide world class care to the sickest patients. That means how well a healthy person adheres to social distancing rules affects whether there is a hospital bed available when a vulnerable person gets sick with COVID-19.
To keep our most vulnerable neighbors safer and protect health care workers, practice “social distancing” and stay home when you can.
- Avoid crowded spaces.
- Postpone gatherings - even smaller ones - and use virtual communication to keep in touch.
- When you must go out, to work or the grocery store, try to keep a distance of 6 feet from others.
- While schools are closed, keep your children at home as much as possible. Do not arrange play dates or other group activities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a complete guide for how to create and implement a household safety plan.
No. To stay safe, you need common sense, soap and water, and social distancing. Importantly, hospitals caring for the sickest patients have a limited supply of protective items such as alcohol-based soaps (like Purell), masks and other gear, which is further reduced if the general public buys them.
If You Have Symptoms
If you’re sick, stay home, practice vigilant hand hygiene, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. If your symptoms are severe or you are in a high-risk category, call your doctor’s office and describe your symptoms. They will be able to advise you on next steps.
Right now, most people are not being tested for COVID-19. This is to save testing resources for people who are at highest risk, and to keep other people at home so they have lower risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Doctors and nurses are very busy right now caring for the sickest patients, so use online information to determine if you really need to call or see them. If you do not fit the criteria below, you probably don’t need to call your doctor or be seen.
If you are well, stay home, stay safe, and slow the spread of COVID-19.
If you are mildly ill, but safe at home, stay home and avoid transmitting the virus to others. Here’s how you can stay safe at home.
You should contact your doctor to request consideration for testing if you are:
- Sick enough to require urgent medical care
- Have mild respiratory tract infection symptoms (fever, new cough, new shortness of breath) AND very high risk of severe disease: 65 or older, immunocompromised (cancer, solid organ transplant, other immunosuppressive drugs, chronic lung disease, hemodialysis, advanced HIV)
- Have mild respiratory tract infection symptoms (fever, new cough, new shortness of breath) AND very high risk of known COVID-19 (known lab diagnosed COVID-19 case, travel to CDC level 3 countries
If you meet the testing criteria outlined above, call your doctor. Unless you require urgent medical care, call your doctor’s office first since you may not need to be seen. They will ask questions to determine if you need to be evaluated for COVID-19 disease.
If You Get Tested or Test Positive
COVID-19 results are posted to the Test Results section of MyChart when complete, and an email alert will be sent.
MyChart is the patient portal available to most patients of outpatient practices at CVMC, CVPH and Porter Medical Center, and for all UVM Medical Center patients. Login or sign-up to MyChart..
COVID-19 is a viral illness that cannot be treated with antibiotics or antivirals, and there is no vaccine.
Symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath that can last 2-4 weeks. Some people will have sore throat, body aches, and/or diarrhea. It is spread through person-to-person contact or by touching objects and surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call your doctor primary BEFORE seeking care, or call 911 if it is a medical emergency. Inform your doctor’s office or the 911 dispatcher that you are on self-isolation for possible COVID-19 and have worsening symptoms. Please put on a facemask before entering any healthcare facilities. These steps will help reduce possible transmission to other people.
People who have stayed home and self-isolated can stop isolation when they meet all three of these conditions:
- You have had no fever for at least the last 72 hours (that means three full days of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication) AND
- Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath gets better) AND
- At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
Use the following resources to find expert information about COVID-19.