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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Coronavirus Diease 2019?  
    Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  2. How does COVID-19 spread? 
    Currently, COVID-19 is believed to spread when people come into contact with droplets from the nose or mouth of someone with COVID-19. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then touch these surfaces and then their face, putting them at risk for catching COVID-19. People can also breathe in these droplets if they are very close to someone with COVID-19. This is why it's important to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and stay more than 6 feet away from a person who is sick. 
  3. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 
    The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms are very similar to the flu and common cold. Some people do not have any symptoms. 
    Those at higher risk are more likely to develop serious illness. Most people recover without needing special medical treatment.
  4. Who is at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?  
    Not everyone who gets COVID-19 will become very sick. Currently, older adults and those who have serious chronic medical conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease — are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and may need hospitalization. People who have weakened immune systems — such as patients receiving chemotherapy, radiation, or who have recently had a transplant — also may be at higher risk.  
  5. Is UI Health prepared to respond to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients? 
    Yes, UI Health is prepared to safely care for any patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and to minimize the risk of exposure to other patients, visitors, staff, and the surrounding community. All patients at UI Health are screened for recent travel and symptoms, based on the latest guidelines from public health officials. All healthcare providers who interact with patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are proactively monitored and protected.  
  6. If I think I have been exposed to COVID-19, what should I do? 
    Before coming in for your visit or the emergency department, call UI Health at 866.600.CARE (2273) to consult with a healthcare professional about what you should do if you are having symptoms that include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. You will be asked some questions about travel history and symptoms when you call, and you will be provided with personalized guidance. 
    If you have questions about COVID-19, contact the Illinois Department of Public Health hotline at 800.889.3931, or email at dph.sick@illinois.gov
  7. Can I get tested for COVID-19? 
    Currently, testing is only for patients with cough, fever, shortness of breath, or unexplained diarrhea or gastrointestinal symptoms. Additional screening is required to determine if testing will be approved. If you are experiencing symptoms and would like to find out if you are eligible for testing, please call us at 866.600.CARE (2273) for further assistance.
  8. How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
    The most important steps to take are the same for every cold and flu season:
    • Get a flu shot if you have not gotten it yet.
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and remember to wash your hands afterward.
    • Avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
  9. What additional precautions can I take?
    Experts say people should plan, not panic. Additional steps you can take to plan ahead include:
    • Practice social distancing, which means staying 6 feet away from others in all settings.
    • Contact your healthcare provider or mail-order pharmacy for an additional supply of medications.
    • Have over-the-counter medicines and supplies (like tissues) to treat fever and other symptoms at home.
    • Have enough household items and groceries on hand to stay at home for a period of time. (During Illinois' "Shelter in Place" order, grocery stores will remain open, and hoarding of food and supplies is discouraged.)
    • Plan how you will take care of sick family members. Make plans for childcare if you are sick or if your child is sick. Have a thermometer at home so you can check for fever if you or a loved one feels ill.
    • Stay informed — check the CDC site regularly for new updates at cdc.gov/covid19.
  10. Where can I learn more?
    If you need to speak with a UI Health provider about your health or an upcoming appointment, please call 866.600.CARE (2273).
    The Chicago Department of Public Health also is providing resources to residents and the public at Chicago.gov/covid19.
    For general questions about COVID-19, call the Illinois Department of Public Health's COVID-19 hotline at 800.889.3931, or email at dph.sick@illinois.gov.
    Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention at cdc.gov/covid19.