Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Updated March 11, 2020


What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected internationally, including in the U.S.

Why is there so much concern about COVID-19?
Because it is a new virus, no one has immunity, and there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

How is LCHC preparing for COVID-19, in general?
LCHC has put together a small team of leaders and subject matter experts focused on providing consistent direction and information throughout our facility and community. This group is meeting regularly in order to quickly share information as needed. We are also closely partnering with our state departments of public health.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after an individual is exposed to COVID-19, but the average is 5 days. The symptoms are similar to other seasonal illnesses, like the flu or a cold, so just having symptoms doesn’t mean you have the disease. Reach out to your provider if you aren’t feeling well.

What is the prevalence and who is at risk?
Imported cases in travelers has been detected in the U.S., as well as person-to-person spread among close contacts of returned travelers.

The risk to individuals is dependent on exposure to those with the virus. Close contacts of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are considered higher risk. However, immediate risk for the general public in the U.S. is considered low at this time. Ongoing public health response is to detect new cases quickly and prevent further spread.

How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person by respiratory droplets, just like seasonal flu. It is believed the virus spreads when someone who is infected coughs on another person and the droplets land on the other person.

Can someone who has COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
Yes, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness. 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 can I protect myself and my loved ones against COVID-19?

  • Clean – Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer when water is not available.
  • Cover – Cover you coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve.
  • Contain – Contain germs by staying home when ill. Don’t go to work, school, shopping or to other
    activities while you are sick.

How are mass gatherings/events being affected by COVID-19?
At this time, Iowa Department of Public Health is not recommending that mass gatherings/large public events be cancelled. This includes church services, sporting events, concerts, conferences, and more. Decisions about cancelling gatherings of people will be made based on local outbreak activity and the recommendations issued by IDPH may change.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19 or have been exposed?
Individuals calling with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care provider. If you do not have health insurance or a primary care provider, contact our local public health agency. If you have mild symptoms, your provider may recommend you stay home and call again if symptoms worsen.

If you come to LCHC for testing, we ask that you call ahead so we can direct you to the proper area and prepare for your arrival.

What is LCHC doing to prepare for a case of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in a patient?
As we would with any global health emergency, we are prepared to implement the incident command structure to proactively and efficiently respond to changing information and any potential health threat.

Additionally, infection prevention teams have been developing, updating, and disseminating information and materials in accordance with public health guidelines.

What is the difference between a “screened positive” versus “testing positive” for COVID-19?

  • Screened positive means the patient answered yes screening questions from the CDC and may be at
    risk for having contracted COVID-19. The screening questions include:
    Fever or respiratory signs or symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath AND
  • Travel to affected geographical areas in the 14 days prior to onset of signs or symptoms


  • Close contact with a person known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the 14 day prior to onset of signs or symptoms
  • Testing positive means that testing was indicated by the health department, performed and came back
    positive for COVID-19.

What does it mean if someone is being monitored by the Department of Public Health?
The individual has risk factors present that require ongoing monitoring to limit exposure to other members of the community. Most likely this individual has returned from travel to the affected geographic region, and as they reenter the country, they are screened at the designated airports and monitoring is determined by the departments of public health.

What is the CDC doing?
The CDC is closely monitoring COVID-19 due to the rapidly evolving nature of the situation and will provide updated information and guidance as it becomes available. Remember, some of the information that is being put out on social media, television and in print is not always accurate.

Misleading information may create confusion and anxiety. For the most up-to-date information, visit

What is the Public Health Department doing?
Our state and local health departments have been and will continue to work closely with the CDC and local public health agencies to ensure the state is ready to respond should the need arise. They will direct us in the event that we have a positive case.

Are there any changes in guidance given to visitors at LCHC?
Visitation is not restricted at this time, but is discouraged. In an effort to keep both patients and visitors safe, and to reduce the spread of illness, unlimited visitors are discouraged.