What to do if you think you may have COVID-19
Here's How We're Responding
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long said that fever, cough and shortness of breath are symptoms that warrant further screening or testing for COVID 19. As of April 27, the CDC has added that having at least two of the following six symptoms may also be indicators of the virus: Chills, repeated shakes with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
Who is at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
People at higher risk include people:
- Age 60 and older
- With underlying health conditions such as:
- Heart or lung disease
- Who have weakened immune systems.
The CDC website has a comprehensive listing of people at higher risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/people-at-higher-risk.html
Spring is coming. How do I know if my symptoms are allergies or COVID-19?
If you have had allergy symptoms every spring and these are similar symptoms to what you had during previous seasons, you are most likely experiencing seasonal allergies. If you have never had spring allergies before, but all of a sudden have symptoms, this is less likely to be new onset allergies. Allergist and immunologist Nicholas Hartog, MD, provides clarity between seasonal allergies and the virus in this Health Beat article: https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/is-it-allergies-or-covid-19-symptom-checker/
Spectrum Health offers two types of COVID-19 testing. The first is the COVID-19 (molecular) test where a sample is taken via nasal or nasopharyngeal swab to determine if the person is currently infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The second type of test is the COVID-19 (serology) antibody test where a blood sample is taken to determine if the person had previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
What is the COVID-19 antibody test?
The antibody, or serology, test is a blood test designed to detect a previous COVID-19 infection through the presence of disease-fighting antibodies. Learn more about this test here.
Why test for antibodies?
Anyone who receives a positive result on this test has been exposed to COVID-19. The antibody testing will help meet a community need and determine how widely the disease has spread through West Michigan. We hope this testing will help us learn more about how the disease spreads in our community and who it has affected.
How can I get tested?
The two-tiered test, available at all Spectrum Health laboratories, is not restricted to a specific patient population but does require an order from a doctor or advanced practice provider. It is not intended for the diagnosis of an acute COVID-19 infection and should only be used 10 or more days after the onset of symptoms.
Anyone who would like a test should contact their health care provider. Spectrum Health has the capacity to conduct up to 1,000 antibody tests per day with results typically available within 24 hours. The cost of the test is $45 and should be covered by most insurance plans.
If I test positive for antibodies, does that mean I won’t get COVID-19?
The presence of antibodies does not mean you are immune from contracting COVID-19, nor does it support easing behaviors such as social distancing, wearing a face mask and regularly washing your hands.
Is Spectrum Health expanding their testing?
Spectrum Health now tests patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, as the supply of specimen collection kits and testing equipment allow. Specimens from these patients are tested at the Spectrum Health Regional Lab in Grand Rapids, which typically produces results in less than 24 hours. The health system has the capacity to run more than 1,500 tests each day. This continues to be a dynamic situation, however, and is assessed daily. Testing requires a provider order and appointment. Call your provider if you think you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, please call 911.
Do I have to qualify for a test?
Due to the enhanced testing capacity, more people who previously wouldn’t qualify for testing may now be tested for COVID-19. Currently, a medical provider screens all patients to determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19. Testing requires a provider order and an appointment.
What is Spectrum Health doing to keep patients safe?
The measures Spectrum Health has implemented to increase safety and limit unnecessary exposure are:
- Extra cleaning throughout all facilities and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas while adhering to rigorous quality and safety practices and infection prevention guidelines.
- Providing appropriate PPE for our team members.
- Screening all team members, patients and visitors before they enter the building, and only allowing a very limited number of visitors.
- Requiring everyone to use hand sanitizer and put on a mask upon entry. In hospitals and clinic settings, face masks are required in hallways, common areas and clinical spaces.
- Social distancing floor signage to maintain CDC guidelines.
- Patients treated for COVID-19 are isolated in the hospital.
Is it safe to go to an urgent care for something non-COVID 19 related?
Yes, it is safe to go to any of our Emergency Departments and Urgent Care clinics. We are strictly following the CDC guidelines and use thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedures and the proper personal protective equipment to keep patients and staff safe as we attend to all emergent and essential medical needs. To keep everyone safe, you will be asked to sanitize your hands and put on a mask when you arrive. Masks are available onsite for your use.
I got a call to come in for something that had previously been cancelled. Is it safe?
Our ambulatory clinic/offsite clinics follow the same protective guidelines and thorough disinfecting procedures the hospitals use. We also have extra cleaning rotations throughout all of our facilities and frequent cleaning of high touch areas. To keep everyone safe, you will be asked to sanitize your hands and put on a mask when you arrive. Masks are available onsite for your use.
Can I still make an appointment for regular medical care?
Yes, you can still make an appointment with Spectrum Health providers. We have enabled all our primary care and most of our specialty care medical teams to see you through a MyHealth virtual visit.
For needs that require an in-person visit, we have locations to see you including primary and specialty care, urgent care and labs.
Spectrum Health in-person appointments for routine and non-urgent care, such as annual check-ups, routine monitoring and wellness exams will be deferred until further notice or when social distancing measures recommended by Governor Whitmer have been lifted. Provider-recommended surgeries and procedures that are appropriate for safe patient care will continue, while others will be postponed.
Do I have to wear a mask when entering Spectrum Health hospitals and clinics?
Yes. To protect our team members and patients from increasing community spread of COVID-19, every person entering Spectrum Health hospitals or clinics must wear the standard isolation mask provided upon arrival.
As a visitor, can I wear my own mask or a homemade face mask when entering a Spectrum Health hospital or clinic?
To best protect our team members and patients from increasing community spread of COVID-19, please wear the standard isolation mask provided to you upon entering.
Can I be with my loved one in the hospital?
Visitors (including family members) are restricted at all locations including hospitals, outpatient locations and long-term care facilities, except in special circumstances. Special circumstances allowing one visitor include maternity (labor and delivery) and patients having surgery. Patients under the age of 21 are allowed two parent/guardian/foster parent visitors at a time. Visit our family and visitor restrictions page to learn more, including ways to virtually connect with patients.
Why do I need to wear a face covering/mask if I feel fine?
Even though you don’t have any symptoms, you may be a carrier of COVID-19 or even test positive. Masking works two ways: It can help to protect you against potential infection, and it protects others, too. It is an effective method to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Learn more here.
As restrictions begin to lift in our community, how can I keep the COVID-19 virus out of my home?
The most effective ways to keep COVID-19 out of your home are:
- Wash hands often and for 20 seconds.
- You should clean and disinfect often as a measure of prevention in your home. Clean with soap and water, disinfect with bleach solution where appropriate or other household disinfectants.
- High touch surfaces such as tables, sinks, light switches and phones should be frequently cleaned
- Soft surfaces should be laundered if possible.
- Wash hands before and after doing laundry.
- Wash laundry on highest appropriate temperature.
- Clean and disinfect clothes hampers.
What is the best way to disinfect my home?
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs or viruses to a safer level, but it doesn’t eradicate them.
If you’re looking to kill the virus that causes COVID-19, eliminate it from your kitchen countertops, touchpoints, steering wheel, etc. You’re ideally aiming to clean, disinfect and then clean again.
This Health Beat article offers must-know instructions on cleaning and disinfecting your home from our own microbiologist: https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/covid-19-know-your-cleaner/
It’s important to stay informed through social media, the news, and television. But if you notice you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed or anxious, then time it’s to cut down on it. Here are some helpful reminders to help you from Leisha Cuddihy, PhD, a clinical psychologist with Spectrum Health: https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/covid-19-nurture-mental-health-reduce-anxiety/
I’m feeling stressed about germs, cleaning, and disinfecting constantly because of COVID-19. How can I keep my OCD under control?
People with obsessive compulsive disorder can struggle trying to differentiate between their helpful actions and their harmful actions. Staying mentally grounded can be a challenge for those already battling worries about germs or invisible threats—but there are techniques to ease the tension. Melanie Grube, LMSW outlines effective strategies in this Health Beat article: https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/covid-19-difficult-days-for-those-with-ocd/
How can I keep calm enough to eat, think, and perform at my best while managing my anxiousness about COVID-19?
If you are eating while stressed or anxious and worrying about COVID-19, you are likely to get a stomachache or suffer from indigestion, gas or cramping. This Health Beat article shares tips on how to maintain your emotional wellbeing to be able to eat and rest and manage multiple responsibilities: https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/rest-to-digest-tips-for-calming-cortisol/
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