What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Virus

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, Steward Health Care is fully prepared to care for our patients and the communities we serve.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, and has now caused sustained outbreaks in multiple regions of the world, including the United States.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms can include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. The average incubation period is approximately five days.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Current understanding about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads is largely based on what is known about similar viruses. The virus appears to be disseminated through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It 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. People are thought to be most contagious when they are actively sick.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are experiencing a cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath or have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should call your doctor’s office. Working with your doctor’s office, they will help determine whether you may come in for an appointment, or if you should stay at home and await further instruction.

What are the risk factors for severe illness?

Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older patients and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness. Approximately one-third to one-half of reported patients had underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

What can I do to prevent COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health care workers and people who are caring for patients who are ill at home or in a health care facility.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • For more information visit:

What is Steward Health Care doing?

Steward Health Care is taking several steps to treat patients and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Visitor Restrictions: If you are planning to visit a patient at a Steward hospital, please check that hospital’s website for the most current information regarding our visitor policy at this time. All events at Steward hospitals are also canceled until further notice, in the interest of the public’s health.

Preparedness action steps also include the following:

  • Daily strategy meetings to review the latest information and recommendations being issued by the CDC and Departments of Public Health.
  • Implementation of coordination protocols in place to effectively communicate with public health officials.
  • Development of an Emergency Management staffing plan in case of an escalating outbreak.
  • Maintaining sufficient levels of Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, gowns, eye protection, etc.) and hand hygiene supplies.
  • Rapid Triage Procedures in place to promptly identify and isolate suspected patients.
  • Creation of a surge capacity isolation area within our hospitals.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.