COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) are aggressively responding to the outbreak of novel coronavirus / COVID-19. Along with other Ohio hospitals, Mercy Medical Center is following all CDC and ODH recommendations and will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.

If you have questions regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19, please call the ODH Hotline at 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634).

Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 FAQs

What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus / COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the coronavirus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Visit the CDC’s website for the latest information on documented symptoms. You can also use the CDC’s self-checker tool.

Think you’re sick? Click here.

When should someone seek emergency medical attention for COVID-19?

When someone is having any of the following emergency warning signs* for COVID-19, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

According to the CDC, the considerations for testing include:

  1. People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. People who have come into close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
  3. People who have been referred for testing by a healthcare provider or a local or state health department.

Read more about these testing guidelines on the CDC website.

Where can I get COVID-19 testing in Ohio?

The ODH maintains the most up-to-date database of COVID-19 testing sites in Ohio. You can search the database by county. The ODH also provides guidance on the positives and negatives of each type of COVID-19 test. There are several different types of COVID-19 tests. Each has its pros and cons. Read the ODH’s information about COVID-19 test types.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio?

Similar to many other states, Ohio is focusing on vaccinating those at greatest risk from COVID-19 first. The most vulnerable include healthcare workers and those at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. When the vaccine becomes more widely available, any Ohioan who chooses to get a vaccination can get one. The ODH provides information about the vaccine and the distribution process on its website.

Ohio COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan, Ohio Department of Health

Am I required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

No one is required to get a COVID-19 vaccine; however, we strongly urge you to get vaccinated when it becomes available to you. The vaccine, which is approved for people age 17 and older, will help protect you from getting COVID-19. If you still get COVID-19 after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect people around you. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that persist for months. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe. All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns.

Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone age 17 and older are encouraged to get the vaccine. The vaccine is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. The vaccine is also approved for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, but we encourage you to have a discussion with your obstetrician before getting it.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.

Why do I need to get two doses of the vaccine?

Currently authorized vaccines, and most vaccines under development, require two doses of vaccine. The first shot helps the immune system recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. You need both to get the best protection.

How does the coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets. You can come into contact with these droplets if you are within six feet of someone who is contagious. In addition, if you touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch your face (particularly mouth, nose or eyes), you may get COVID-19.

How can I prevent coronavirus / COVID-19?

The best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus including:

  • Social / physical distancing.
  • Stay home. If you must go out, keep six feet of distance between yourself and other people.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with throw-away tissues.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

Is the coronavirus / COVID-19 deadly?

Most people who contract COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Certain people are at higher risk for severe illness, including those with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. Learn more about high-risk groups from the CDC.

Is coronavirus / COVID-19 treatable?

Currently there is no FDA-approved medication for COVID-19. If you contract COVID-19, rest, drink lots of fluids, and take over-the-counter medication to control the fever. Learn more about 10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home.

How long can the coronavirus live on surfaces?

A new study looked at the novel coronavirus in a lab setting and found it can survive 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic surfaces, and on cardboard 24 hours. If a person infected with coronavirus sneezes or coughs out bits of virus onto a doorknob or handrail and then you touch that, you could become infected.

To help prevent transmission, keep surfaces clean by:

  • Wiping correctly. Use ammonia or alcohol-based products. Skip the baby wipes.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer. Just make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Your smartphone is like a third hand. Wipe it down.

What’s the best way to talk to my kids about COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming for parents and concerning to kids. The Ohio Department of Health recommends parents and others who work with kids to talk about COVID-19 with kids in a way that children will understand.

  • Remind kids that doctors and health care workers are learning as much as they can about the virus and are doing what they can to keep everyone safe.
  • Reassure children that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope.
  • Reinforce with kids the importance of washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue, and getting enough sleep.
  • Inform kids of COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Strive to reduce panic.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older kids, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Set a good example by showing empathy and support to those who are ill.
  • Help your child to have a sense of structure upon returning to school.
  • Connect with friends and family members over electronic communications.

To learn more about novel coronavirus / COVID-19, please visit the Ohio Department of Health or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.