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.


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 49604The 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: November 5, 2020

To protect our patients, staff, visitors and the community during COVID-19 and influenza season, Covenant HealthCare is reinstating visitor restrictions. Effective November 5, 2020, all routine visitation 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 is difficult and was made only after careful consideration of our infection control practices and recommendations from 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.

  • These necessary visitors are asked to stay in the patient room, limit the visitation duration, and follow necessary mask and social distancing requirements.
  • Exceptions only apply if a visitor screens negative for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Covenant will not allow anyone under the age of 16 to visit the hospital except for extraordinary circumstances.

Exceptions to visitor restrictions include:

  • Obstetric patients may have one birth support person accompany them.
  • Pediatric patients may have both parents/guardians accompany them, however, only one may spend the night.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): Both parents/guardians may accompany the patient, however, only one parent/guardian will be allowed in the NICU at a time with only one rotation per day.
  • 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 a 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 the visit.
  • Patients requiring a home caregiver to be trained must stay in the room during the visit.
  • Adult patients undergoing surgery, or a 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. Pediatric surgical patients may have two parents/guardians.
  • 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 if the patient has specific assistance requirements.
  • No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests unless their support is medically necessary.
  • 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.


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.