Coronavirus Information & FAQs
Coronavirus Information & FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions About the Coronavirus
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.”
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice external icon for naming of new human infectious diseases.
This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. Currently, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.
- A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
- An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection.
Mobile-testing sites for COVID-19 are open at all major Jefferson locations, throughout Abington, Northeast Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Jefferson patients with physician-ordered COVID-19 tests can either walk or drive up to the sites, which are designed to control infection and and limit symptomatic (non-emergent) patients from entering enclosed care spaces such as crowded emergency rooms.
The mobile COVID-19 testing centers are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but hours will likely expand so check back for updates. For additional information regarding Jefferson's mobile testing, including rules for arriving at testing centers, read more.
If you have been tested for COVID-19, the results may take between 3-5 days
Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.
For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.
Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- 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 product.
- 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 that contains 60%–95% alcohol
Visit the CDC website to learn about steps to take before, during, and after any community spread of COVID-19.
CDC provides recommendations on postponing or canceling travel. These are called travel notices and are based on assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to a certain area.
Warning Level 3: CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19.
Alert Level 2: Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to a healthcare provider and consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices.
Watch Level 1: CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is thought to be low. If you travel, take the following routine precautions:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on airplanes. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, travelers should try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contain 60%–95% alcohol.
For more information: Exposure Risk During Travel
A quarantine is when an exposed or at risk individual is separated/restricted from others to see if she/he is confirmed infected from test results) Isolation refers to the separation of a confirmed COVID-positive individual from people who are not sick.
If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.
Mobile-testing sites for COVID-19 are open at all major Jefferson Health locations, throughout Abington, Northeast Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Jefferson patients with physician-ordered COVID-19 tests can either walk or drive up to the sites, which are designed to control infection and limit symptomatic (non-emergent) patients from entering enclosed care spaces such as crowded emergency rooms.
Your physician will provide additional information about our testing sites, including rules for arriving at our sites.
Jefferson is also offering COVID-19 evaluations at all five urgent care locations, including a nasal swab test for patients who are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19 (fever, body aches, loss of taste/smell, etc.). Results of the nasal swab test will be available within a few days.
If you are asymptomatic (not experiencing symptoms), we will provide an evaluation and a prescription for a testing site.
COVID-19 evaluations and tests are covered by most insurances. All locations are accepting walk-ins, with no appointment needed.
If you have been tested for COVID-19, the results may take between 3-5 days.
Until you are contacted by your healthcare provider regarding your results, you should practice the following precautions, including:
- Separate yourself from other people in your home.
- Avoid sharing personal household items.
- Clean your hands often.
- Clean all "high-touch" surfaces.
- Cover your cough or sneeze.
- Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath).
- Put on a face mask before you enter the healthcare facility.
If you or a loved one is given Remdesivir as a treatment option, please read our fact sheet detailing risks and benefits of taking this medication.
If a previously infected person has recovered clinically but later develops symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection, they should be both quarantined and retested.
If an infected person has clinically recovered, they should continue to wear masks in public places, especially indoor locations.
Thomas Jefferson University has been working with our Jefferson Health partners throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. For more information on Jefferson Health's COVID-19 policies and guidelines please visit Jeffersonhealth.org/Coronavirus.