What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus refers to a family of seven viruses that cause illness in animals and sometimes humans. The most common coronaviruses cause mild illness like the common cold. Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and become a new human coronavirus. This is what has happened with COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an abbreviation for “Coronavirus Disease 2019,” the official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. A “novel” coronavirus means it is new and has not been previously identified.

Is COVID-19 the same as common Coronaviruses?

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that had not been previously identified. The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and usually cause mild illness.

What are the symptoms caused by COVID-19?

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath

Most cases are mild, but sometimes may progress to pneumonia or bronchitis. People most at risk for a more serious illness are the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Most COVID-19 infections are mild and require no more than bed rest and fluids until recovery. As with other infectious diseases, more serious cases can involve hospitalization. There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

No. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

What are the risk factors for COVID-19 virus?

  • Close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • Any international travel within 14 days
  • Domestic travel to highly affected areas, especially for persons who attended a mass gathering (e.g. a conference)
  • Age>50 years, the elderly, immune-compromised, or individuals with other chronic health conditions can be at higher risk for more severe illness.
  • Residing in a congregate setting (e.g. long-term care facility, shelter, group home)
  • Being a healthcare worker
  • Having a progressive acute respiratory illness with no apparent cause

What can be done to prevent COVID-19 infection?

The best defense against COVID-19 is the same as with other infectious respiratory diseases:

  • Wear a mask in public places
  • Use proper respiratory hygiene: cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading a virus to others. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Use routine disinfection protocols to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid large crowds.

If you feel ill, seek guidance from your healthcare provider.

What are health authorities doing about COVID-19?

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) continue to provide updated information on the rapidly evolving situation as it becomes available. The Tower Health Infection Prevention team receives regular updates from the CDC and the PA DOH and communicates changes as the situation changes.

Where in the United States have there been reported cases of COVID-19?

Cases have been identified across the United States. The PA Department of Health monitors and reports on cases. The CDC reports confirmed cases of COVID-19, view the latest information.

What should I do if I think I have been exposed to and/or display symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are experiencing the typical COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), or believe you have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, please stay home and contact either your physician or a local urgent care provider. Phone or digital contact is a preferred first step because it allows care providers to properly advise you and to prepare for your arrival to the care setting, if necessary. Tower Health caregivers are assessing patients through a series of key questions to determine risk of exposure to COVID-19. We report any suspected cases to the PA Department of Health, which then authorizes testing.

Can Tower Health facilities test for COVID-19?

Yes. Tower Health Urgent Care has established six locations dedicated to the assessment and screening of COVID-19 patients. See above for more information.

For a complete list of frequently asked questions with up-to-date answers, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health.