COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What is COVID-19 a.k.a. Coronavirus and how does it spread?

Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, mainly when they are in close contact with one another (less than six feet).  When an infected person coughs or sneezes, this spreads respiratory droplets that can then infect another person nearby.  It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Some recent studies also have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

What are the symptoms? 

90% of patients will have fever and 70% will have a dry cough. Some will have diarrhea although by itself this is not usually a sign of COVID-19.  Those who become acutely ill will experience shortness of breath.

Most patients who have the virus will have symptoms but in most cases (about 80%) the symptoms will be mild.  People who are older, have chronic diseases, or have a weakened immune system are at higher risk of complications if infected.

If you have difficulty breathing - call ahead to your nearest emergency room and let them know your symptoms and that you’re on your way. That will help them prepare for your arrival.

I want to get tested. Where can I go to do that? 

Not everyone should be tested. Mercy offers an online screening tool to help direct you to the most appropriate follow-up care for your symptoms. If you are symptomatic, you should also stay home and away from others and take care of yourself as you would with other viruses. If you are experiencing worsening of symptoms, please contact your primary physician’s office.

How can I help protect myself?

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.
    • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
    • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
    • Do not gather in groups.
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker, i.e. an N95 mask.
    • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
    • Avoid touching the mask with your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
    • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. Here is additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19?

Contact your health care provider. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.

How many cases are there?

This information changes daily, so please visit the Centers for Disease Control website for the most up-to-date information. 

How long does it last/how long does it take to recover?

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild forms of the disease, recover in about two weeks, while people with severe or critical disease recover within three to six weeks.

Is the virus over?

No. This is a pandemic that has the potential to last for years, at least until a reliable vaccine is developed and a large percentage of the population is inoculated. Some cities are beginning to re-open, but that could also lead to future spikes in cases. The best was to keep yourself safe are:

  • Stay home unless you absolutely have to go out.
  • Wear a mask any time you are in public.
  • Practice social distancing, that is, stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently.

How does COVID-19 impact my upcoming appointment/procedure?

Mercy is gradually reopening some of our services. If your procedure is one, the doctor’s office will contact you to schedule it. Please bring a cloth mask with you and wear it from the time you enter the facility until you leave.

Mercy is currently conducting most appointments online via video visits.

  • Existing patients can schedule a video visit through MyMercy. If you don’t currently have a MyMercy account, you can quickly create one.  
  • If you don’t have a Mercy doctor, you will schedule with a provider in a pool of Mercy Clinic providers identified in each community to take on these new patients.
  • New patients may request a video visit.  You will be contacted by Central Test Scheduling to be set-up in Epic and scheduled with the community-based provider pool identified to handle these new patient virtual visits.

In all cases, there is a 24-hour lead time in scheduling the video visit to ensure clinics are prepared.

If you need to see your caregiver in person, please bring a cloth mask with you and wear it from the time you enter the facility until you leave. This is not only for your protection, but for that of the other patients and caregivers around you.

COVID-19 Birthplace Update

Changes have been made at Mercy Birthplace locations to protect our patients, the community and our co-workers. Read our COVID-19 FAQs here.