Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update and FAQs

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Covenant HealthCare is monitoring the worldwide response to the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, a major global health concern. Covenant officials are in constant contact with the local and state health officials to take all precautions to protect our patients and staff. If you have questions about COVID-19 that cannot be answered here, call the Covenant COVID-19 hotline at 989.583.3135.

Click on the links below to find out answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19. You may also view responses to all questions by continuing to scroll down the page.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

I have an allergy to other medications/vaccines; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

I am currently sick; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

I am immunocompromised; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

I have an underlying medical condition; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

I was exposed to COVID-19 recently; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

I was previously infected with COVID-19; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

I just received a non-COVID-19 vaccination, when can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

What side effects should I expect?

How do I know my symptoms are from the vaccine and not an actual COVID-19 infection?


General Information about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

The 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information here.


What are the symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization, common signs of COVID-19 infection are similar to the common cold although some people show no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • respiratory symptoms
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

In rare severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.


Who is at risk?

As the virus spreads within the U.S., the elderly and those with multiple medical problems are at highest risk for more serious disease.


Does everyone who suspects COVID-19 need medical treatment?

No. The vast majority of cases diagnosed thus far around the world have been mild or completely without symptoms and may be cared for by staying home and using comfort care similar to those for a cold: fluids, rest and over-the-counter medications. Hospitals will focus on caring for those who have more severe cases of the virus, such as populations with underlying health issues that put them at greater risk.


What should I do if I think I might be infected?

Call your doctor if you…

If you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider.

Call the provider before you arrive if you think it’s possible you have a COVID-19 infection. If you have a trusted healthcare provider, please contact them for advice and care. As always if there is a life-threatening emergency, call 911.


What classifies as an exposure to a positive person?

Direct in-person exposure to someone who is contagious with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes over a period of 24 hours. Exposure to a person who was exposed does not count.


How can I prevent the spread and stay healthy?

The CDC offers tips on preventing COVID-19 infection. Simple precautions are most effective:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms of respiratory illness, not feeling well, or are caring for someone who is sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wear a face covering or mask.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, especially in common areas of your home or work setting.
  • Although currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that people age 6 months and older get flu vaccination to stay healthy.

How can the community help Covenant in the local fight against COVID-19?

Our community has shown extraordinary generosity and support, and we thank you.

Click here for a list of people who have already supported.

At this time we are asking that the community diligently follow the guidelines to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. This includes frequent handwashing, social distancing, wearing a mask, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home, work or common areas.


I have questions about COVID-19, can I speak with someone?

If have questions about Covid-19 that are not answered by this page, you may contact the Covenant COVID-19 Hotline. Covenant established a hotline for staff and the community to call with questions and for screening for testing orders. Covenant HealthCare has established a HOTLINE (989.583.3135) staffed by advanced practice providers and nurses to handle COVID-19 screenings via telephone. The Covenant COVID-19 Hotline is operational Monday through Saturday 8 am to 8 pm, and Sundays and Holidays 10 am to 6 pm.

Covenant strongly recommends that people concerned that they may have contracted COVID-19 call their doctor or the Covenant COVID-19 Hotline at 989.583.3135. If someone is experiencing severe symptoms, they should go immediately to an emergency department, or call 911.


Where is the best source of up-to-date information about COVID-19?

Information related to the virus will continue to grow. In addition to checking this page for updates, stay connected to other reliable sources. Here are links to websites with COVID-19 information:

Testing Information

Who gets tested for COVID-19?

The CDC has issued guidance to healthcare providers for determining which patients likely need testing. Providers will use their judgment of a patient’s symptoms, contact history and risk factors to evaluate a patient.


What are my options to get COVID testing?

You can call your Primary care physician, the Covenant COVID-19 Hotline, or go to www.michigan.gov and search “find test sites.” Testing at Covenant locations requires a physician's order or screening and an order from the Covenant COVID-19 Hotline. There may be other testing locations in the community that do not require an order for test.


Where are Covenant testing locations?

As a means to minimize exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Covenant HealthCare has opened a drive-thru COVID-19 Testing Center specifically for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms and an order to be tested from their provider.

The drive-thru Covenant COVID-19 Testing Center is located at 4900 Fashion Square Mall, Saginaw, MI 48604The building is on the corner of Bay and Tittabawassee in the northwest corner of the mall parking lot. People who come to the center MUST have a doctor’s order to have a sample taken for COVID-19 testing. As a safety precaution, people are asked to remain in their vehicles throughout the process. Currently, samples taken at the center are being sent to outside laboratories. Results are expected within 2 to 4 days. Testing demand may impact the turnaround time of results.

The Covenant COVID-19 Testing Center is operational Monday through Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm, and Saturdays 9 am until 2 pm. The center is closed on Sunday.

People are advised not come to the Covenant Testing Center without a doctor’s order for COVID-19 testing.


When should I get tested after an exposure?

Current recommendations are to be tested between day 3 and day 6 after exposure to known COVID-19 positive person. Testing too soon does not allow the virus to be detected.

Keep in mind that an exposure is classified as: Direct in-person exposure to someone who is contagious with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes over a period of 24 hours. Exposure to a person who was exposed does not count.


Does Covenant Conduct Rapid Testing?

Covenant is provided a very limited supplies of accurate rapid tests. These are reserved for patients presenting at Covenant with critical need to determine if they are COVID-19 positive. We are continuously exploring ways to provide accurate and quality rapid testing and recently purchased equipment to conduct additional rapid tests. With the installation of new equipment, Covenant is anticipating having more accurate rapid tests available in December.


Where can I go to get a rapid test?

At this time, there are no locations that we recommend for high quality, accurate rapid testing.


Do I need to get an antibody test?

We recommend you discuss this option with your primary care physician.


Who can be screened and have a test ordered through the Covenant COVID-19 Hotline?

You can be screened and have a test ordered through the hotline if you have a known exposure, are a Covenant employee, or are having symptoms associated with COVID-19. Otherwise, you will need to go one of the community testing locations or contact your primary care physician.

Patient Care Information

What is Covenant HealthCare doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

As the region’s largest Emergency Care Center, Covenant HealthCare has policies and procedures in place that guide and prepare our medical teams to handle a variety of health-related events such as this.

Emergency management committees which include leaders and experts from across the organization, have been meeting for months to monitor the evolving situation and adjust operations accordingly. We are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. In addition, Covenant officials are in regular contact with local and state health officials and we will continue to respond as information becomes available.


What is Covenant HealthCare doing to address the coronavirus?

In order to protect our community, Covenant has implemented the following:

  • We are closely following all CDC guidelines and recommendations related to COVID-19 for testing and patient care
  • Visitor restrictions have been implemented in a phased approach since January.
  • More frequent cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and shared surfaces.
  • Emergency preparedness plans began in early March. These plans have been refined and strengthened over the years with past outbreaks including the swine flu, Ebola, and Zika.
  • Outlining/mapping of isolation procedures and surge areas.
  • Continuous close monitoring of supplies, including personal protective equipment to protect our staff and patients.
  • All self-service food and refreshment stations will be removed from the facilities. An increase in pre-packaged foods will be available.
  • The Covenant Outpatient Pharmacy is offering curbside pick-up and free shipping. Some health plans are offering early and group refills on certain prescriptions.
  • Reinforcing CDC messages and sharing what we know on our website, social media, and with local news stations to educate the public.
  • At the peak, an off-site drive-through screening and sampling site was established.
  • The Covenant Laboratory has been validated to process a limited number of COVID-19 tests.
  • A COVID-19 resource hotline is available at 989.583.3135.
  • In order to help prevent the spread, effective April 2, Covenant is asking all patients, visitors and staff to wear (at minimum) a simple mask. This does not replace clinical protective gear guidelines.  

Does Covenant HealthCare screen all patients before entering the building?

Yes, All Covenant locations are performing screening for Covid-19 at each entrance. Please inform the screener you are coming in for Covid symptoms and they will direct you where to go at that location for admitting.


Are masks required to enter Covenant facilities?

As of April 2, everyone who enters any Covenant facility will be required to wear a mask. This wasn’t a decision made lightly and it was not a decision made out of panic or fear. The goal is to do our part to protect one another.

These simple masks do not replace enhanced levels of personal protective equipment required when providing care to isolation patients and working in high-risk situations. These masks do help limit and contain the number of respiratory droplets shared by the person wearing the mask, helping limit the potential of spread.

Every staff member has access to a hand-sewn cloth mask generously donated by the community or purchased by Covenant. Visitors may wear personal-use masks from home. If a visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided.


What are the current visitor restrictions?

Effective: January 20, 2020

To protect our patients, staff, visitors and the community, Covenant HealthCare has the following visitor guidelines in place. Our patient care philosophy depends greatly on engaging families to be part of the healing process. We ask that you visit using guidelines from our infection control teams and national health experts.

Visitor Expectations

  • We welcome one healthy visitor per adult patient at a time as space allows. For pediatric patients, two healthy parents or guardians at a time as space allows. See details below.
  • Visitors under the age of 16 are only allowed under extraordinary circumstances.
  • Masks/face coverings are required in all Covenant locations for the safety of patients, visitors and staff.
  • Sanitize your hands upon entering the facility and frequently throughout your visit.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and face.
  • Please do your best to keep a 6-foot distance between you and others when possible. To support social distancing, visitors accompanying adult patients may be asked to wait in an alternate area during appointments or procedures.
  • For those entering the hospital campus, please be aware a health screening will take place at the door. We do not allow visitors who have symptoms of illness to enter. Any visitor who has symptoms should save their visit for another time.
  • Visiting hours within the hospital are 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Additional Details/Exceptions:

  • The pediatric surgical recovery area will be limited to one parent/guardian due to space restrictions.
  • Two healthy parents or guardians may visit the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) one at a time to safely maintain social distance guidelines.
  • Patients undergoing surgery or procedure may have one visitor. To support social distancing, once the procedure/surgery begins we ask that visitors accompanying adult patients wait in the common areas, outdoors, or offsite during the procedure. Contact information will be obtained from the support person and that person will be contacted to return to their loved one as recovery begins.
  • Additionally, to promote social distancing in our outpatient waiting rooms such as laboratory, radiology and cardiology, we ask that visitors accompanying adult patients wait in common areas as space allows or their vehicles during the appointment or visit.
  • Due to current State requirements, no visitors are allowed in the Transitional Care Unit (TCU).
  • No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Clergy are welcomed for all non-COVID-19 patients and under extenuating circumstances COVID-19 patients (with appropriate hospital-issued personal protective equipment).
  • Patients who are at the end-of-life may have very limited number of visitors who must remain in the room during the visit.

For more information by area, please visit www.covenanthealthcare.com/safecare

We appreciate your understanding during these changing times. Our goal is to protect you, your loved ones and our staff. If you have any questions, please contact our patient advocate at (989) 583.4317.


Will my surgery still take place?

The health and safety of our patients, staff, providers and community is our top priority. Teams are using careful consideration, taking into account guidelines and recommendations from the CDC, Surgeon General, and American College of Surgeons.

We will continue to monitor disease activities and resources in the community and will take a data-driven approach to changes in the recommendations, particularly regarding the duration of care deferral.

If you have questions regarding your procedure, please contact your physician’s office for further details.


Is it safe for me to deliver my baby at Covenant?

Covenant is well-equipped to care for you and your baby. Our staff is following local, state and CDC guidelines and recommendations for caring for patients requiring obstetrical services. For more information, talk to your OB doctor should you have concerns. We understand that family and support systems are an important part of this experience. Please make sure you review our most up-to-date visitor policy below.


How do I know if a location is closed or class is canceled?

Location closures may be listed at the top of the Covenant homepage. You are welcome to call ahead or check the corresponding service website from the navigation above.  Many classes have also resumed or are offered virtually. You can view the upcoming events and classes on our Events calendar.  


Why should I be connected to MyChart during times like this?

MyChart is an electronic medical record that allows patients and providers to stay connected electronically. MyChart offers features to conveniently make an appointment, send non-urgent medical messages, view test results and renew prescriptions. Learn more about MyChart at Covenant.


Can I send flowers to my loved one in the hospital?

At this time, we can not accept delivery of flowers for patients in the hospital due to the inability to sanitize these items. You are welcome to send an E-Greeting Card.

We also encourage visiting your loved one virtually by using an app like Facetime or Skype. For more information please visit our Visit Patients Virtually page.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information here.


Who should not get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is contraindicated in individuals who have a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is not authorized to be used in children or adolescents under the age of 16.


I have an allergy to other medications/vaccines; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you have a history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should NOT get vaccinated. If you have a history of severe allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable medication, you may still receive the COVID-19, but should be monitored for a longer period following administration. For all other situations, you can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine and follow standard monitoring procedure following administration.


I am currently sick; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. Whether you have a current COVID-19 infection or other acute illness, it is recommended you wait until your symptoms are resolved before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no minimal time interval between infection and vaccination, but we would recommend you be fever free for at least 24 hours.


Can I receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If a woman is part of a group (e.g., healthcare personnel) who is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and is pregnant or breastfeeding, she may choose to be vaccinated. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss with their healthcare provider prior to administration to evaluate their individual risk.


I am immunocompromised; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, immunocompromised people may receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless otherwise contraindicated. Currently, there is not data available to establish safety or efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in this group. However, this population is at risk of for severe COVID-19 infections and would benefit from vaccination. There is a potential for the vaccine to be less effective in this population and individuals should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19, including limiting social gatherings and mask wearing.


I have an underlying medical condition; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, a COVID-19 vaccine may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. Data from phase 2/3 trials have shown similar safety and efficacy in people with underlying medical conditions compared to those without.


I was exposed to COVID-19 recently; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is recommended that you wait until your quarantine period has ended to be vaccinated to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and others during the vaccination visit. Special consideration may be made to those living in congregate settings like long-term care facilities and correctional facilities.


I was previously infected with COVID-19; can I still receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, you should still be vaccinated against COVID-19. It is unknown how long immunity last following infection, but some research is suggesting immunity could start waning after 90 days. Vaccination is the best way to make sure you are still protected from another COVID-19 infection.


I just received a non-COVID-19 vaccination, when can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine should not be administered at the same time (or same day) as any other vaccine. It is recommended to wait at least 14 days between COVID-19 vaccination and any other vaccine.


What side effects should I expect?

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. These symptoms typically resolve in one or two days. Side effects were more common following the second dose.


How do I know my symptoms are from the vaccine and not an actual COVID-19 infection?

After a vaccination you may experience side effects such as fever, headache, and muscle aches. These also happen to be symptoms of a COVID-19 infection. With the vaccine, these symptoms should resolve with 1-2 days of onset. If these symptoms last longer than 2 days, you may have a COVID-19 infection. If you have any other symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, these are not from the vaccine and may be symptoms of COVID-19 or another infection. The COVID-19 vaccine WILL NOT give you an infection.