Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory (breathing) illness caused by a coronavirus that was first identified during an outbreak in China.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
I have symptoms, should I go to the doctor?
As recommended by the CDC, if you suspect you are infected, we recommend you seek medical care following the step-by-step guidance on the CDC website.
According to a directive from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Mount Sinai Health System is not permitted to test patients for COVID-19 who have no or mild symptoms.
Testing will not change how we treat your illness.
Whether you have COVID-19 or another seasonal illness like the flu, we advise the following:
- Stay home and only leave if you need medical attention
- Isolate yourself from others in your household by staying in a separate bedroom
- Use a separate bathroom if available; otherwise, disinfect the bathroom after using
- Everyone should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Dispose of used tissue properly in lined trash cans
If you wish to consult a doctor about your symptoms, please use our virtual service, Mount Sinai NOW as a first step. You can chat with a doctor on your smartphone or personal computer, using a video call, online visit, or Text-to-Chat. It will help us make sure you receive the appropriate care. According to a directive from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Mount Sinai Health System is not permitted to test patients for COVID-19 who have no or mild symptoms.
If you or a loved one has questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing or treatment, you can text 4-SINAI (474624) from any mobile device to receive answers.
For any questions after receiving negative COVID-19 test results, you can call 646-605-5959 to receive further guidance.
How do I get tested?
If you have questions about COVID-19 testing – including when and if you should get tested – visit us online for Mount Sinai Now Virtual Care. A clinician will address all of your questions and provide testing guidance.
Which areas is COVID-19 prevalent in? Where do I need to be concerned about traveling?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains the most current list of these countries.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Because some people infected with COVID-19 may not have any symptoms, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that you wear a face covering (such a homemade face mask) when in public. Higher grade medical masks and respirators should be reserved for health care workers.
How can I protect myself?
- Perform hand hygiene either with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) or soap and water.
- Practice respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Is it safe to come to Mount Sinai?
Due to the escalating COVID-19 emergency, we are prohibiting all visitors across the Mount Sinai Health System, including visitors to the emergency departments, inpatient units (including postpartum), ambulatory sites and other facilities. These restrictions are being put in place for the safety of our patients, caregivers and community.
There are limited policy exceptions for HEALTHY visitors, including:
- Labor and Delivery: One healthy visitor, no rotation.
- Pediatrics and Pediatrics ED: One healthy visitor.
- NICU: One healthy adult visitor for the duration of the hospitalization, no rotation.
- End of Life situations: One healthy visitor for the duration of the hospitalization, no rotation, as long as we can ensure visitor and staff safety.
If a visitor shows any symptoms, staff will politely ask them to leave and provide appropriate follow-up information.
We will support connection to family and friends through virtual means such as phone, FaceTime, Skype or Zoom meeting. By doing this, we aim to meet our patients and their families’ needs while ensuring a safe environment.
Thank you for your understanding in these very difficult times. Please check the visitor policy for updates prior to your visit.
I want to know more; what are good sources of information?
The best resource for information on the virus is on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov. The CDC provides useful information including frequently asked questions and travel guidance. More information is also available at mountsinai.org/covid19.