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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

What is COVID-19?

Does everyone who suspects COVID-19 need medical treatment?

Who gets tested for COVID-19?

How can I prevent the spread and stay healthy?

What are the symptoms?

Who is at risk?

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

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

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

What is Covenant HealthCare doing to address the coronavirus?

Covenant HealthCare joins others in county to establish COVID-19 Screening & Sampling Centers

Covenant Emergency Care Center screening all patients before entering the building

Will my surgery still take place?

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

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

What are the current visitor restrictions?

Are masks required to enter Covenant facilities?

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

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

What are the details of the first positive COVID-19 case in the region?

How do I know if I had contact with the physician who tested positive?

Why hasn't the name of the first person who tested positive for COVID-19 in our region been released?

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




What is COVID-19?

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



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.



Who gets tested for COVID-19?

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



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 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 mask if you are sick or have symptoms.
  • 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.


What are the symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization, common signs of COVID-19 infection are similar to the common cold. They can include:

  • 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.



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. Masks will be supplied upon check-in at the front desk. 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 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.

We have activated emergency management committees, which include leaders and experts from across the organization, 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.



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

Covenant established a hotline for staff and the community to call with questions. 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. The Covenant Sampling Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm. (closed on Sunday).

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.



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 and with local news stations to educate the public.
  • An off-site drive-through screening and sampling site has been 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. 


Covenant joins others in county to establish COVID-19 Screening & Sampling Centers

As part of a county-wide effort to screen people for COVID-19 and sample those meeting the CDC recommendation for testing, Covenant offers a drive-through site at a Covenant campus. Other agencies are planning similar sites in the county.

These centers are specifically designed for people who already have a physician order to proceed with COVID-19 testing. The on-site providers first screen individuals to ensure they have a physician order to be sampled for testing. Individuals who do not have such an order will be referred to a telephone screening to determine if they meet the CDC criteria for testing. Those with a doctor’s order are swabbed and the sample will be sent out for testing. At this time, it takes several days before results are available.



Covenant Emergency Care Center screening all patients before entering the building

Covenant has additional triage outside its main entrance to appropriately screen patients prior to coming into the emergency care center. When patients arrive to the Emergency Care Center they are greeted by a provider outside the entrance and all patients receive a mask. If signs and symptoms warrant, patients will be taken directly to a room for assessment. 

We advise everyone to continuously exercise caution, social distancing, and hand washing. Please keep in mind not everyone diagnosed with COVID-19 experiences symptoms.



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. As we know it now, COVID-19 appears to infect infants and children much less than the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions and weakened immune systems. 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?

For a list of closures and cancellations, click here. If your location is not on the list and you have questions, please call in advance.



What are the current visitor restrictions?

Covenant will continue following our protocols along with state and CDC recommendations.

To protect our patients, staff, visitors and the community as COVID-19 progresses in the United States, we continue restricting visitors within Covenant HealthCare. All routine visiting is being suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our patients, staff and community.

Our patient care philosophy depends greatly on engaging families to be part of the healing process. The decision to restrict visitors was difficult and made only after careful consideration of our infection control practices and recommendations from national health experts.

We recognize that there are times when having a visitor or family member present is crucial. In these cases, only one healthy adult identified support person will be allowed per day. Please note these exceptions only apply if a visitor screens negative for symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath). We are not allowing anyone under the age of 18 except under extraordinary circumstances.

Exceptions include:

Obstetric patients may have one birth support person accompany them. 
Pediatric patients may have one parent/guardian with them.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): One birth parent/guardian with the patient who must remain in the room during the visit.
Critical Care: Patients in the critical care units may have one visitor who must remain in the room during the visit.
Patients who are at the end-of-life may have very limited number of visitors who must remain in the room during the visit.
Patients with disruptive behavior, where a family member is key to their care, may have one visitor who must remain in the room during the visit. 
Patients who have altered mental status or developmental delays (where caregiver provides safety) may have one visitor who must stay in the room during visit.
Patients requiring a home caregiver to be trained must stay in the room during the visit. 
Patients undergoing surgery or procedure may have one visitor who must leave the medical center as soon as possible once the procedure/surgery begins. Contact information will be obtained from the support person and that person will be contacted to return to their loved one as recovery begins.
Patients who have an appointment at Covenant HealthCare’s hospital-based clinics, laboratories, radiology departments or are visiting the Emergency Care Center may have one support person with them. 
No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests. 
No other visitors will be allowed in the medical center at this time. 

We appreciate your understanding during these uncertain 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. 

While our in-person visitor restrictions are in place, we encourage you to visit with your loved one virtually. More information on virtual visits.



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.



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.
For those wishing to support, here are a few ways to help:

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

 



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.



What are the details of the first positive COVID-19 case in the region?

Over the past several weeks Covenant HealthCare has activated an orchestrated response to be ready for when Coronavirus cases appear in our community. On Friday, March 13, 2020 we learned that the first positive COVID-19 case in our area was identified. The affected person is a Covenant physician who learned that he was exposed to an individual with the virus while on an out of state trip. Once he became aware that he was exposed he stopped working immediately, underwent testing and went into home quarantine awaiting results. He never exhibited related symptoms like a fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, or sore throat. He only felt a little achy after his ski trip. We want to assure the community that neither Covenant nor the provider would knowingly put patients, staff or others at risk.

Once it was confirmed that he tested positive Covenant HealthCare and area county health departments have been working to inform patients, staff and others who have had contact with the physician and provide them information to ensure that they take immediate actions to minimize the exposure of others.

Under the guidance of local health departments, individuals at high or medium risk are being quarantined at home for 14 days and monitored for symptoms. Those who are at low risk due to minor exposure have been advised to monitor themselves for symptoms and alert their primary care physician in the event of any change to their physical condition.

Situations like this are being closely monitored across the region by the local health departments.



How do I know if I had contact with the physician who tested positive?

Friday, March 13, Covenant HealthCare was notified that a physician tested positive for Covid-19. Covenant officials made personal phone calls to patients and employees who were in close contact with the physician. Within a short amount of time, hospital leaders shared communications across the organization and community in order to be as transparent as possible.

It is important to note that if you did not receive a phone call, you were likely at low to no risk.

The local health department and public health officials reached out to individuals who may have had social contact with the physician (that is, interactions outside of work).

Please also keep in mind that this person was exposed to the virus out of state. Upon returning from the trip had no symptoms, worked two days (March 10 and 11). On the afternoon of March 11 he became aware that he was exposed, stopped working immediately, underwent testing and went into home quarantine awaiting results.



Why hasn’t the name of the first person who tested positive for COVID-19 in our region been released?

Covenant strives to protect the privacy of our patients and staff. This individual was not only a physician but also a patient. As such we have an obligation through healthcare privacy laws to protect his information just as we would any other patient. This physician willingly allowed us to share details of his case in order to give the community as much information as possible.



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: