Frequently Asked Questions

Review frequently asked questions about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find answers to common questions about:



Q: What is COVID-19?

A: Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. These range from viruses that cause the common cold, to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The latest coronavirus from China is called Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). This new coronavirus is different from the others and we are learning more about it every day.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms?

A: COVID-19 is spread by close person-to-person contact from droplets from a cough or sneeze, which can get into your mouth, nose, or lungs. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of another person.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain or a sore throat. 

Q: What is the difference between the COVID-19 and the flu?

A: The symptoms can be similar. The CDC estimates that so far this season, there have been at least 19 million flu illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths in the U.S. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

Q: How long does it take for symptoms of COVID-19 to appear?

A: The CDC believes at this time symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses. There are isolated reports of individuals transmitting the infection to others before they develop symptoms. To be cautious, many governments are requiring an isolation period of 14 days for people returning from endemic areas.

Q: How is it treated?

A: There is no FDA-approved antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. People infected with this virus should receive supportive care (rest, fluids, fever control) to help relieve symptoms, and for severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

Q: How can I best protect myself?

A: Practice the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not
    available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the garbage and make sure to clean your hands afterwards.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
  • It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.

Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.


COVID-19 Testing and Screening

Q: Is Tallahassee Memorial screening patients for COVID-19?

A: Yes. We are following CDC and WHO recommendations on screening. For more information about testing and screening for COVID-19, please view our Testing Information.

Q: What should I do if I need to be tested?

A: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your primary care physician to request testing. Your primary care provider will decide whether you need to be tested and can order a test without approval from the Department of Health. Keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

If you do not have a primary care provider, please call the TMH Transition Center at 850-431-4470. They can help to connect you with a medical provider or other appropriate resources.

Only patients who are in respiratory distress need to visit a local emergency center for testing. Your primary care provider should call ahead to notify the emergency center of your need for testing.

Q: Where should I go if I'm pregnant?

A: If you are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, sneezing or sore throat, but are NOT having any concerns in regards to your pregnancy (no pain, loss of movement, etc.) please call your primary care physician and do NOT come to Labor & Delivery Triage.

Q: What criteria is used for screening COVID-19?

A: Persons who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 could potentially be tested for COVID-19. Contact your primary care provider to request testing.


Hospital & Visitor Policy

Q: I'm expecting and plan to deliver at TMH. What should I expect?

A: We know you may be concerned about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may impact your delivery here. At the Tallahassee Memorial Alexander D. Brickler, MD Women’s Pavilion, ensuring mothers and their babies are cared for in a safe, healthy and caring environment is our greatest concern. Learn more.

Q. I need emergency or chronic care but I'm afraid I'll catch COVID-19 by coming to the hospital - what should I do?

A: The issue of emergent, urgent and chronic care is also at hand. What we find is that, in an environment like we have today, people are afraid to come to hospitals for fear of being exposed to COVID-19. Actually, we’ve set up measures well in advance, going back weeks and weeks, to start separating symptomatic patients (patients who have symptoms of respiratory illness) away from our emergency centers, away from our urgent care centers, away from the doctors’ offices. We separate those patients out to create a safer environment for all the other patients seeking care in the hospital.

We need to all recognize that without those medical addressing issues that require urgent, emergent and chronic care, what you’re doing is potentially putting yourself or someone else at a risk of having higher complications. We have people dying because they are not seeking the appropriate level of care when they should. You should always seek care appropriately and timely.


Surgical Services

Q: My elective surgery was canceled due to COVID-19. My surgeon has contacted me to reschedule my procedure at TMH. What should I expect?

A: We want to ensure that you and your loved one feel prepared with what to expect for your pre-admission appointment, day-of surgery and discharge. Our processes have been updated as our team is taking every precaution to provide the safest possible care to our patients. More information include what to expect is available here.