Frequently Asked Questions

For Patients and Visitors

We are committed to doing our best to provide clear updated recommendations and guidance on an ongoing basis. The health and safety of our community is our top priority. Get the facts about COVID-19 from trusted websites and continue to #FlattenTheCurveGA.

Visit emoryhealthcare.org/covid often, as well as the following sources:

COVID - 19 Information

 

The 2019 novel coronavirus disease is a new type of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. The name of this disease is abbreviated as COVID-19. It is part of the family of viruses that cause the common cold and result in a range of flu-like symptoms.  

This virus is spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This occurs between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Droplets from coughing or sneezing can land in your nose or mouth, or on nearby surfaces. The virus can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. Avoid unnecessary contact (e.g. shaking hands) and perform hand hygiene before and after patient contact and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces to prevent spread.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs are a quick and effective way to sanitize your hands Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with disposable tissue
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

“Flatten the curve” refers to the rate of COVID-19 infection over time. Implementing social distancing, stay-at-home orders and other measures can help “flatten the curve” by reducing the number of people who are infected within a specific time period. A slower infection rate also lowers the demand for health care services at any one time and spreads this demand over a longer period of time. The goal is for the need for healthcare services never to exceed the capacity of our healthcare resources.

#FlattenTheCurveGA

People are thought to be most contagious when they have the most symptoms, such as cough. Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms – there have been reports of this occurring, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads from adults. On the other hand, children may have no or mild symptoms and spread the virus within families, which may account of much of the “asymptomatic transmission” that has been observed. Adults may be contagious with only mild symptoms, which is why it is so important that we monitor ourselves closely.

Based on current data, this virus does not stay suspended in air like Tuberculosis (TB) from coughing or sneezing (see above for more on how is spread).

Although most people who are infected by COVID-19 develop mild illness, some patients may be at increased risk for severe illness. Cancer patients who are under active cancer treatment are generally going to be at higher risk for complications of infection with COVID-19, especially patients who have had a recent bone marrow or stem cell transplant and have severely compromised immune systems. Also, older adults and those with medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic medical problems are at higher risk for complications.

The best method of protection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Patients should stay out of public areas, avoid social gatherings, and avoid close contact with other people. The virus can travel up to 6 feet in respiratory droplets from another person’s sneeze or cough, so they should keep 6 six feet between themselves and others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends other everyday preventive measures such as vigorous hand-washing. We should counsel our patients to follow all of these recommended precautions. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers more information specific to cancer patients and COVID-19.

There is no vaccine at present, but Emory researchers are joining worldwide efforts at developing one as rapidly as possible. Emory University also is taking part in a National Institutes of Health sponsored global clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of therapeutic agents in hospitalized adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19, learn more here.

Symptoms

 

We continue to get new information about symptoms and signs of COVID-19 infection. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, and congestion, but we are also seeing reports of diarrhea and loss of smell. Less than 10% of patients have more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, new confusion, or inability to arouse.

If you think you have COVID-19, the best thing to do is stay home and isolate yourself. Always call your health care provider before going to the office. Avoid going to an emergency room unless you have any or all of these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent high fevers
  • Worsening symptoms after you initially started to feel better

Your health care provider will determine if you need to be tested. Testing is most important if you have symptoms of a fever or respiratory infection and one of the following: 

  • Are sick enough to need to be in a hospital.
  • Have risk factors for a more severe infection such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system.
  • Work or live in a communal setting (e.g. a hospital, daycare, college dorm, or nursing home).

  • Most people who have COVID-19 infection are mildly ill and improve with supportive care like resting and drinking plenty of fluids. Mild symptoms include low-grade fever, cough, and congestion similar to what you might have with the common cold.
  • We recommend that you continue to isolate yourself while you have symptoms. You should stay home and should not go to work, spend time in public areas, or take public transportation, use a ride-sharing service or take a taxi.
  • You should try to stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from anyone else in your house if that is possible. Continue to wash your hands frequently, and cover your cough or sneeze.
  • We recommend people stay isolated for at least a week after the onset of their symptoms, or for three days after their fever is gone and symptoms have significantly-improved, whichever one of those is longer.

  • If you do develop worsening symptoms such as difficulty breathing, you should call ahead to your doctor's office. They can help direct you to either their office or an emergency department for further evaluation. If you need to go to the doctor or ER, you should wear a mask. If you do not have a mask at home, please request one when you arrive.
  • If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. Be sure to let them know of your concern for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

If you are symptomatic, stay home, self-isolate and call the COVID information line at 404-71-COVID (404-712-6843) for guidance. If you are asymptomatic, you may continue to work and should self-monitor for symptoms.

The federal government has committed to making testing free. You will not be receiving a bill from Emory Healthcare for the test. If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, additional services, including hospital admission (if applicable), will be covered according to your insurance plan details.

Emory is testing patients for COVID-19 according to the CDC and public health criteria. If you were referred to Emory to get tested, Emory’s COVID clinic team will call you with test results 5-7 business days after your test. Please do not call in to inquire about your results; only the COVID clinic team has the information to give you and they will call you as soon as they can to deliver your test results. 

Yes, if your provider advises you to self-isolate based on CDC guidelines, you may request a note.

See the following links at the CDC for further info on self-isolation guidance:

General Information

 
  • Emory is open and will remain open to provide health care services to the community.
  • However, like many other medical centers across the country, Emory Healthcare has made the difficult decision to postpone most of our scheduled surgical and procedural cases. This includes postponing procedures that, under normal circumstances, would usually be done within several weeks. We are taking this step following guidance from the American College of Surgeons and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), so that we can continue to meet the needs of patients who have urgent and emergency life-threatening conditions that require surgery within 48 hours.

 

In accordance with CDC guidelines, we have postponed elective clinic visits and surgeries in an effort to limit patient exposure to the virus as well as preserve supplies, equipment, and staffing for the most urgent patient needs. 

Consequently some outreach locations are temporarily suspending in-person visits. Once the COVID crisis has passed they will re-open. Many clinic locations remain open for time-sensitive medical needs, along with all of our hospitals and other services. Additionally, several offices are conducting telehealth visits. Your care team remains accessible to you by calling our call center or by portal.

Yes, our Emory Healthcare providers can provide care using telehealth when it is clinically appropriate. They will contact you and assist in coordinating a telehealth visit when appropriate. 

All of our clinical sites have an Infection Prevention and Control team to ensure patient safety. If you have a cough or fever, we will ask you to wear a mask when in one of our facilities to protect both you and others. We will also wear protective equipment when taking care of you so we do not spread infections between patients. Because the virus may survive on surfaces for some time, we wipe down commonly used areas several times a day with disinfectants. Plus, when possible, we ask that you avoid bringing family members to appointments as it increases exposure. We will continue to work with state and local officials to stay up to date on the latest developments.

Please check back regularly for the most up to date information on screening and other questions and thank you for trusting Emory Healthcare for your health care needs.

To support social distancing for health care workers, we are making face masks (cloth or procedural) available to all Emory Healthcare (EHC) staff and providers. Many healthcare systems are employing this measure to accomplish the social distancing aspect of patient safety, as much in healthcare requires an interaction distance of less than 6 feet. Currently the CDC recommends masks for patients if they have a fever or other symptoms of viral illness, such as cough, sore throat, congestion.

Every hospital in the country is monitoring its supply chain closely, as there is the potential for shortages.  Many people have asked about providing much-needed supplies. We welcome donations of certain medical supplies.

For those who sew, your time and talent are greatly appreciated for a project with a purpose: Making fabric masks. 

  • We are contacting patients who are impacted by phone. If you have a scheduled appointment with us in the next two weeks, please stay alert for phone calls from our team.
  • If you do not hear from us, please plan to arrive as scheduled, unless you have a fever/chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches or have trouble breathing, or if you have been advised that you are on quarantine or self-isolation due to travel or an exposure.
  • If you do not have symptoms, but have questions related to COVID-19 that are not answered by our site, the CDC or Georgia Department of Public Health's online resources, please contact the Georgia Department of Health's COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-442-2681.

  • Effective Monday, March 16, Emory Healthcare made the difficult decision to postpone most of our scheduled surgical and procedural cases. This includes postponing procedures that, under normal circumstances, would usually be done within several weeks. We are taking this step following guidance from the American College of Surgeons and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), so that we can continue to meet the needs of patients who have urgent and emergency life-threatening conditions that require surgery within 48 hours.
  • While we adhere to stringent protocols to ensure infection prevention, we are taking this step to protect our patients and are working to support and preserve supplies, equipment and staffing for the most urgent and time-sensitive patient needs. This decision is consistent with the American College of Surgeons and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendations and guidelines.

  • Emory Healthcare leadership and staff are doing everything we can to make sure that our patients, their families, and our community are as safe as possible as we respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Emory Healthcare is taking careful steps to protect all of our patients, while working tirelessly to ensure that we have the supplies, equipment, and staff necessary to take care of the increasing numbers of critically ill patients who need urgent care at our hospitals.
  • Like many other medical centers across the country, we had to make the difficult decision to postpone most of our scheduled surgical and procedural cases. This includes postponing procedures that, under normal circumstances, would usually be done within several weeks. We are taking this step following guidance from the American College of Surgeons and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), so that we can continue to keep our patients as safe as possible and meet the needs of patients who have urgent and emergency life-threatening conditions that require surgery within 48 hours.
  • Please know that this is a rapidly changing situation and we are constantly reevaluating our recommendations to ensure the best possible response.

Due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, we have implemented new visitor restrictions to ensure the health and safety of our patients, their families and our staff. Effective Friday, March 20, these visitor restrictions apply at all Emory Healthcare facilities.

Medical treatment is considered an essential service and you are permitted to travel to any of the Emory Healthcare facilities during the statewide shelter-in-place order issued by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

Although it unlikely for you to be stopped by a law or state official, Emory Healthcare will make a letter available to you stating that you are engaging in necessary travel to an appointment deemed an essential service by Emory Healthcare providers. 

During the shelter-in-place statewide order, please ask your doctor, nurse or other health care provider for this letter. 

On Thursday, April 2, Governor Brian P. Kemp issued a shelter in place order for the state of Georgia. The order will be effective beginning Friday, April 3rd, at 6:00 PM and expire Monday, April 13th, at 11:59 PM. Read the full executive order here and FAQs here.

Additional Resources

 

For Employees

 

All Emory Healthcare employees should refer to our intranet site and their email for current updates.