COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: 4/27/21
Keeping track of the latest COVID-19 information is a challenge. At Henry Ford Health System, we want to be your resource. We’ve got answers to all of your coronavirus questions – from when and how to get a COVID-19 test, how long you need to quarantine if you’re exposed to the virus, identifying common COVID-19 symptoms, how Henry Ford has adapted our care to keep you safe during this time, and much more.
Why are there so many cases of COVID-19 in Michigan right now?
Throughout late January and early February, Michigan’s COVID-19 case rates were low. But starting in early March, they began surging, which is likely due to a variety of factors:
- During the winter lull in cases, people gathered and let their guards down, relaxing their mask wearing and social distancing efforts.
- Most schools resumed in-person classes in early- to mid-March, as did school sports. (As of now, all teen athletes are required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.)
- Indoor dining restrictions were modified March 5, bringing more people together in enclosed spaces.
- The U.K. and West Coast (California) variants are circulating in Michigan, and both are much more contagious. Michigan has had more cases of the U.K. variant than most states in the nation.
- Spring break travel is on the rise.
- COVID-19 burnout. People have become frustrated, lonely or bored, and stopped taking precautions. Now is not the time to let your guard down. It is extremely important to get vaccinated, wear your mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and avoid gatherings.
What is the criteria for testing?
In Michigan, we want anyone who needs a test to get one. This includes anyone with symptoms and people who are essential workers (like healthcare workers and gas station attendants) that do not have symptoms. You do not have to be extremely sick to be tested for COVID-19.
While Henry Ford Health System has strict criteria on who can be tested at each Henry Ford location, there are other non-hospital healthcare facilities that provide testing. These sites can be found on the Michigan.gov website.
Who decides criteria for testing?
Where can I be tested?
If you are a Henry Ford patient and have symptoms of COVID-19, please call the MyCare Advice line at (844) 262-1949 to talk to a nurse about next steps or how to get tested.
If you are preparing for surgery or a medical procedure at a Henry Ford facility, or are admitted for a stay at one of our hospitals, you will be tested for COVID-19, even if you have no symptoms of the virus. Your care team will provide instructions on how to receive the test prior to your procedure.
State of Michigan Testing
To locate a State of Michigan COVID-19 testing site, please visit Michigan.gov. Established Henry Ford Health System patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 can call their primary care provider for advice and next steps on how to get tested.
My work wants me to get tested, where can I go?
To locate a State of Michigan COVID-19 testing site, please visit Michigan.gov.
Established Henry Ford Health System patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 can call their primary care provider for advice and next steps on how to get tested.
Can Henry Ford Health System provide return-to-work letters for people who are not current patients?
We do not provide return-to-work letters for those we have not evaluated. Lab testing, including testing for COVID-19, is done based on clinical evaluation and will not be performed at the request of an employer for an employee to return to work. Healthcare systems are concentrating on caring for the most ill patients and are not able to provide work and day care clearance letters to people not currently under our care.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include having a temperature greater than 100.4 F or higher and/or new loss of taste or sense of smell. Other symptoms include chills, drenching sweats, new cough, shortness of breath, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion, and/or nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor and self-isolate from family until it is determined whether you have COVID-19.
Can I get sick if I haven’t met anyone infected with COVID-19?
Yes, it is possible. The virus can travel from person to person without causing symptoms in some people. One of those people could still infect someone, and that person could show symptoms. This is called community spread and is one of the reasons government officials recommend limiting activities to groups of no more than 10 indoors and 100 outdoors.
What is the incubation period after exposure?
The incubation period is 2 to 14 days after exposure.
If I develop COVID-19 symptoms, how long do the symptoms last?
Symptoms last from 7 to14 days for mild to moderate cases that do not require hospitalization.
What can I take to help with COVID-19 symptoms?
You can take Tylenol and over-the-counter cold or cough suppressants that contain guaifenesin or dextromethorphan. If these are ineffective, we recommend a virtual visit (e-visit, video visit, telephone visit) with your doctor since there may be prescription options.
Supposedly, the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines say not to use ibuprofen. Is this true? I have heard to use Tylenol instead. Also, is basic Aspirin OK?
WHO released a public statement that does not recommend against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen solely due to the COVID-19 infection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have similar statements and recommend that patients self-medicate according to the medication labeling, and that prescribers perform their usual risk-benefit when deciding to prescribe NSAIDs.
Tylenol is the best first choice for fever, aches, and sore throat. Aspirin should not be given to children. The use of aspirin or other medication-related questions should be discussed with your physician.
How long is someone contagious after symptoms resolve?
Once your symptoms completely resolve, you are no longer contagious.
How long will you test positive after getting COVID-19?
This may vary depending on the person and their ability to fight off the virus.
Like the flu or a common cold, can you be infected again after recovering from COVID-19?
Cases of reinfection of COVID-19 have been reported but are rare. In general, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, some reinfections are expected.
How long do I self-isolate if I was exposed? Can I still be around my family?
Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last exposure to that person and separate themselves from other family members as much as possible.
There are some exceptions:
- It can be reduced to 10 days if the following two conditions exist:
- The individual does not develop any symptoms or clinical evidence of COVID-19 infection during daily symptom monitoring for the 10 days after the last exposure and
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through day 14 after the last exposure
- Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and who meets the following criteria does NOT need to stay home:
- Fully vaccinated within the last three months and showing no symptoms of COVID-19 or
- Someone who has COVID-19 illness within the previous 3 months and has recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms
How long do I need to self-quarantine if I have been exposed and had symptoms, but they are now gone?
Once your symptoms are completely resolved -- meaning no fevers for 24 hours without a fever-reducing medication and zero symptoms for 3 days -- you may end your self-isolation.
If my family member is having some COVID-19 symptoms, do I need to quarantine for 14 days?
See previous question: How long do I self-isolate if I was exposed?
If I have been exposed, but tested negative, do I have to remain in quarantine?
No, but we encourage everyone to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing, avoid public or private gatherings with large numbers of people and practice good hand hygiene. We also encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19.
If I don’t have any symptoms after self-isolating for 14 days (or 10 days, as outlined above), can I resume normal activities?
Yes, but we encourage everyone to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing, avoid public or private gatherings with large numbers of people and practice good hand hygiene. We also encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19.
If I live with someone who has/had the coronavirus, am I also going to get sick?
If you follow the CDC guidelines, you can lessen the likelihood of getting sick. This includes having the sick person stay in one bedroom of the house and use a separate bathroom. Food and supplies can be brought to the sick person, but those that deliver them should wear a mask if possible.
If I’m traveling internationally by air, do I need to get a COVID-19 test before I come home? Should I quarantine or test again when I return?
Yes, beginning Jan. 26, 2021, you will need to get tested no more than three days before you travel by air back into the United States and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.
If you have had COVID-19 within three months, you can show documentation of recovery. Documentation includes proof of a positive viral test done three months or less before your flight back to the U.S., and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.
At this time, people who have been vaccinated are not exempt from this requirement. Even if you have received the vaccine, you are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test, or documentation of recovery, to re-enter the U.S.
After travel, the CDC recommends getting tested three to five days after you return home. You should self-quarantine for seven days after you return, even if you test negative before you arrive home. If you don’t get tested after three to five days, it’s safest to self-quarantine for a full 10 days. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days,
Isolation or Quarantine: What's the difference?
Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.
Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.
If I feel sick and need to see a doctor, what do I do?
If you have coronavirus symptoms like a fever of or above 100.4 F or chills / sweats, or TWO OR MORE new symptoms in last 3 days such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, or loss of taste or sense of smell, call your primary care doctor. If you are a Henry Ford patient, connect with your doctor using MyChart either through:
- An E-visit using the online form to explain your symptoms. Your doctor will respond within one business day.
- Or, a MyCare On Demand video visit. Request a video visit in real time with a doctor; Henry Ford doctors are now available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How do I know when I need to go to the ER?
Most people can stay at home to recover from the infection; however, if you have any signs of difficulty breathing or distress, you should go to the nearest ER.
How will I know if my breathing is severely affected?
If your breathing is severely affected, it will be difficult to take a breath or you will feel short of breath. For example, if you are normally active, and you are out of breath climbing to the top of stairs for more than a few seconds, or if you’re out of breath doing housework or walking on flat ground for a block, your breathing has been affected.
Are your hospitals restricting visitors?
To help ensure the safety of our patients, team members and the communities we serve, temporary visitor restrictions are in place at all Henry Ford Health System facilities.
Are you screening visitors?
Temporary visitor restrictions are in place at all Henry Ford Health System facilities. Visitors are being screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before entering Henry Ford hospitals and medical centers. We are screening for fever ≥100.4 F or chills/sweats, new cough, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath and gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea/nausea/vomiting, or loss of taste or sense of smell.
Are you screening employees?
To help protect everyone, staff entering any of our locations will complete screening questions and have temperatures taken.
Is my scheduled procedure being canceled?
In addition to performing life-saving surgeries, our five hospitals have also returned to performing scheduled procedures. If you are scheduled for surgery, you will be notified by the hospital operating room staff if there are any changes in your procedure date or time.
Can Henry Ford Health System provide return-to-work letters for people who are not current patients?
Established patients may contact their doctor for return to work letters; however non-Henry Ford Health System patients would receive their letter through the testing site or the Michigan Health Department.
Is it safe for me to deliver my baby at a Henry Ford Health System hospital?
Henry Ford Health System hospitals are well-equipped to care for you and your baby. Our staff is following local, state, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and recommendations regarding caring for patients requiring obstetrical care.
Right now, COVID-19 appears to infect infants and children much less than the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, and people with weakened immune systems. For more information, talk to your OB doctor about your concerns and options.
Is it okay to pick up prescriptions?
Yes, you can safely pick up prescriptions, but maintain a 6-foot space between you and other people. Use pick-up windows, curbside pickup or mail delivery if those options are available.
What can I do to help protect myself from the virus?
The most important way to protect yourself from the virus is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are age 16 or older, you can schedule your appointment online.
You should also protect yourself by using these health hygiene practices that are recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into our sleeve – not your hands. Throw away the tissue in the trash.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Monitor Your health daily. Be alert for symptoms and respond quickly if they develop.
In elderly or vulnerable patients, do the symptoms tend to start mildly and or severely? Why is the death rate higher amongst the elderly?
Symptoms may appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure, and the severity and timing of symptoms varies from person to person. Elderly patients are at additional risk because they are more likely to have co-morbidities (other illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.).
If we step on COVID-19 droplets, is there a chance that we will spread it to other surfaces? If we touch those surfaces with hands, can we spread it to ourselves if we touch our face?
All surfaces that may be contaminated should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. The number one way to prevent contaminating surfaces is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Do I need to wear a mask when out in public?
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires individuals to wear a face mask when they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces. Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.