What is coronavirus?

The term “coronavirus” refers to a number of viral infections that affect people each year, especially the common cold. The particular strain of coronavirus causing such concern is known as COVID-19, as well as 2019-nCoV. It is a new virus that causes respiratory illness and can spread from person to person. It was first identified during an outbreak in Wuhan, China in 2019.

How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

The best way to prevent yourself or your family from getting the virus is to avoid any exposure to it. There are several simple, everyday preventive actions you should take help avoid the spread of respiratory illnesses like coronavirus. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Wash your hands often! Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Look for sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • If you are sick, stay home!

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

    • Maintain social distancing, keeping at least three feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces around your home or work. Think of things like kitchen countertops, bathroom sinks and vanities, even door handles or television remote controls.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People infected with this strain of coronavirus report similar symptoms to cold and flu, such as cough and fever. This is also accompanied by shortness of breath.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 typically causes mild symptoms, and the vast majority of people affected will fully recover from it. Adults who are 70 years of age or older and people with serious illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension and cancer are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Is there a vaccine?

There is not currently a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure and practice good hygiene and preventive actions.

What should I do if I think I or one of my loved ones may have symptoms?

Should you develop fever, cough or other respiratory complaints, please contact your doctor so all appropriate testing can be done. Again, this is already flu and “other” virus season, and currently these viruses are more prevalent in the community than COVID-19.


If you or a loved one feels ill, it’s best to seek medical attention. Call ahead before visiting your doctor, and let them know you suspect you may have symptoms. This will help your health care provider to take steps to protect you and others from getting exposed when you come in for an appointment or treatment. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people or pets, and before you enter a health care provider’s facility.

You should stay home, except to seek medical care. Do not go to school, work or other public places, and avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-shares. Isolate yourself from other people and animals in your home.


If you have medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and let the dispatch personnel know that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If you can, put on a facemask before emergency medical personnel arrive.

If I need one, how much does a COVID-19 test cost?


Sinai Health System charges a flat fee of $40 for a COVID-19 test, if it is not already covered by your insurance plan.