Facebook Pixel Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions - WellSpan Health
Print view logo

In This Section

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Oct. 28, 2020

WellSpan Health continues to stand as a prepared and trusted partner for our friends and neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to safety, equity and affordability as we continue to provide services that our patients need to ensure their safe, timely and appropriate care.

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

There are many types of previously known human coronaviruses including some that cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses such as a common cold to a severe lower respiratory tract infection, like pneumonia. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.  COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that usually includes not only an upper respiratory tract infection, but also a lower respiratory tract infection, which can lead to pneumonia and breathing issues.

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, spreads through the following:

  • Droplets traveling through the air by coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, or breathing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it.

What are the symptoms and warning signs?

COVID-19 symptoms can appear as early as two days and as late as 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus. Symptoms are similar to a cold or flu with fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can last up to 14 days.

Most people with COVID-19 will have minimal symptoms and will fully recover. However, people with certain underlying health conditions and who are over age 60 are at a higher risk of infection and related complications.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you are experiencing symptoms you should isolate yourself at home to protect everyone around you. Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, before you visit a doctor’s office, clinic or emergency room, call your healthcare provider or WellSpan’s toll-free COVID-19 hotline at (855) 851-3641 for care guidance.

If you do not have a primary care provider and believe you need medical treatment for COVID-19, we recommend that you consider a WellSpan Online Urgent Care appointment by visiting WellSpan Online Urgent Care (use coupon code COVID19 for a free visit) or call WellSpan’s Coronavirus Information hotline toll-free at (855) 851-3641. The information hotline is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

We ask that you do this before heading to a hospital’s Emergency Department or seeking care at your physician practice, unless your symptoms worsen, and you have no other options for care.

The CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to receive medical care.
  • If possible, designate and use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.
  • Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, please call your primary care provider who will determine the need for testing or care.

If you do not have a primary care provider, you can use WellSpan’s online screening tool at www.WellSpan.org/Coronavirus to determine if you may be at risk for COVID-19. Also, you may use WellSpan Online Urgent Care to be seen quickly and safely, without the need to travel to a care location. You can visit www.WellSpan.org/OUC to get started. Finally, all of our physical Urgent Care locations are available for in-person visits if you do not have a primary care provider.

When should someone seek emergency care?

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

What can people do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Like the flu, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is through common-sense prevention measures:

  • Practice social distancing. Don’t shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others. 
  • Wear a cloth mask or face covering in public.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing and visiting public areas. Alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options for hand hygiene.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.

If you aren’t feeling well, the only time you should leave your home is to seek medical care. The best thing you can do if you’re sick — with a bad cold, the flu or COVID-19 — is staying home and self-isolating.

Will I be protected if I wear a mask?

Cloth masks and other face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19. By covering your face, you help to stop spreading disease to others. Remember this saying: "My mask protects you; your mask protects me."

The Pa. Department of Health recommends that you wear face coverings when:

  • Visiting your health care provider
  • Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies
  • Interacting with customers/clients at essential businesses
  • Using public transportation
  • Feeling sick, coughing or sneezing

Following recommendations from the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, WellSpan requests that patients and visitors wear a protective face covering when visiting any WellSpan facility.

For more information on wearing face coverings or masks, please visit these web sites:

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is the effort and process of identifying, notifying, and monitoring anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious (2 days before onset of symptoms until the end of the person's isolation period).  Contact tracing is a key strategy for preventing the further spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Close contacts of a case are considered to have been exposed to COVID-19 and may go on to develop the disease.  Identifying and quarantining close contacts limits their ability to spread disease should they become infectious and helps to limit community spread.

What happens during the contact tracing process?

Contact tracing for COVID-19 typically involves:

  • Interviewing people with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been infectious
  • Notifying contacts of their potential exposure
  • Referring contacts for testing
  • Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and
  • Connecting contacts with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.

All communication related to contact tracing is private and confidential. To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.

What are the similarities of COVID-19 and the flu?

Both COVID-19 and influenza are respiratory diseases, but they come from different viruses. In addition, both the flu and COVID-19 can spread from person to person with close contact. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, they release respiratory droplets that can land in another person’s nose, eyes, or mouth. You do not need to be symptomatic to spread COVID-19 or the flu. Both can be spread by people who are not yet showing symptoms.

With both COVID-19 and the flu it’s possible to infect others before showing any symptoms. However, the length of time you can actively spread the diseases differs:

  • With the flu, older children and adults are usually most contagious for the first 3 or 4 days of their illness. Many can be contagious for up to a week, and infants and young children can be contagious even longer.
  • Scientists are still studying how long someone can spread COVID-19. It’s possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after symptoms appear, but it may be even longer. Even if you were asymptomatic or your symptoms went away, it’s possible to be contagious for 10 days or longer after testing positive for COVID-19.

How can I prevent getting COVID-19 or the flu?

The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months get an annual flu shot, which can help prevent you from getting infected with the flu. There is no vaccination currently available for COVID-19.

However, specific methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Wearing a cloth facemasks: Follow the CDC’s recommendations for wearing facemasks. The CDC recommends wearing a facemask when out in public to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
  • Practice social distancing: When out in public, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from people who are not members of your household.

There are also prevention methods you can use for both COVID-19 and the flu. These steps can help protect you from getting infected and help prevent their spread:

  • Avoid contact with people who are infected.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wash for at least 20 seconds — especially after coughing and sneezing, using the bathroom, and before eating
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as tables and counters, at work, home, and school
  • Wash your hands after touching commonly used surfaces

What treatments are there for the flu and COVID-19?

If you have the flu, if taken early prescription antiviral medicines can help treat your illness. They can help ease your symptoms, shorten your illness, and lessen your risk for complications.

No specific medicine currently exists for treatment of COVID-19. Currently, treatment is focused around supportive care and additional oxygen when needed.

Will my flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

Unfortunately, it will not. However, getting your annual flu shot can help you avoid influenza, which could be confused with COVID-19 due to its similar symptoms. It is still highly recommended that everyone gets their flu shot if they haven’t already had it.

How is WellSpan caring for patients who may need evaluation and treatment for COVID-19?

WellSpan Medical Group practices provide evaluation and care for patients who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, please call your primary care provider who will determine the need for testing or care.

If you do not have a primary care provider please use WellSpan’s online screening tool  at www.WellSpan.org/Coronavirus to determine if you may be at risk for COVID-19. Also, patients are encouraged to use WellSpan Online Urgent Care to be seen quickly and safely, without the need to travel to a care location. Patients should visit www.WellSpan.org/OUC to get started. 

Finally, a Coronavirus Information Hotline has been established for patients that may have questions. Call toll-free at (855) 851-3641. The line is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

How is WellSpan preparing for increases in COVID-19 cases? 

As the region’s leading healthcare provider, WellSpan is committed to safety, equity and affordability as we continue to provide services that our patients need to ensure their safe, timely and appropriate care.

We continue to follow guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Teams across the health system have been regularly meeting since January and our staff continue to prepare to identify and treat patients who may arrive at a WellSpan facility seeking diagnosis and treatment for COVID-19.

WellSpan’s steps to ensure patient safety include:

  • Our staff has the equipment and resources they need to safely treat patients who may have COVID-19 to protect their own health while preventing further spread of the virus.
  • We have implemented visitor restrictions in our hospitals to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Everyone entering a WellSpan facility is screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being allowed entry.
  • Each person who enters one of our facilities is required to wear a mask, including all patients, visitors and employees.
  • We have enhanced our facility cleaning standards to ensure that they are safe and sanitized regularly. All furniture, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other high-touch items in our facilities are cleaned and sanitized regularly with hospital-grade disinfectant.
  • Hospital inpatients who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and treated with the highest standard of care.
  • To address questions as this situation continues to evolve, we have established a toll-free Coronavirus Information Hotline staffed by nurses to answer your questions at (855) 851-3641, as well as our online Coronavirus resource.

Is WellSpan screening all patients and visitors entering a hospital and other healthcare facilities?

Yes. Everyone entering WellSpan hospitals and healthcare offices will be asked questions about potential COVID-19 exposure and recent symptoms. Every person who enters one of our facilities is required to wear a mask, including all patients, visitors and employees. 

Can I visit my friend/relative in the hospital?

To protect patients, staff and community from the spread of COVID-19, visitation has been restricted in all WellSpan hospitals and outpatient locations, with minimal clinical exceptions. Please click here to learn more.

Can I donate blood and plasma?

Patients still need your help during the COVID-19 situation. If you are well, donating blood and plasma is safe and needed. Plasma from someone who has fully recovered from COVID-19 may help others in experimental treatment. Please contact the blood donation centers below to learn more.

  • Blood donation is not a social gathering
  • Donation sites use good infection control
  • Only healthy individuals are advised to donate blood.

If you are not feeling well, please do not come in to donate. If you have had contact with a person known to have COVID-19, please do not donate for 28 days.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please do not donate blood for 28 days after your symptoms have resolved.

Is WellSpan experiencing a shortage of items like personal protective equipment (PPE) or masks?

No. We have been able to maintain an adequate stockpile of supplies to successfully manage times of crisis or high demand.  Like all health care providers, in recent months we have confronted worldwide challenges for a number of supplies. But as a large health system, we are well-positioned to take measures to address these challenges. Guided by the recommendations from the CDC, we continue to advise staff on the appropriate use of certain items to help them understand guidelines for the right time to use safety equipment, how long certain equipment can be used, and which items can safely be used more than once.

How do I pay my WellSpan medical bills?

WellSpan in Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Adams Counties and Northern Maryland:

As a precautionary measure to protect our community and staff, we request all payments and billing inquiries to Customer Service by phone, 717-851-5005, or online through your MyWellSpan patient portal, or via WellSpan.org.

For Financial Assistance information, please call 717-851-5051 or visit www.wellspan.org/financialassistance

WellSpan in Franklin and Cumberland Counties:

As a precautionary measure to protect our community and staff, we request all payments and billing inquiries be directed to Customer Services by phone:

WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital 717-267-7129
WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital 717-765-3406
WellSpan Roy A. Himelfarb Surgery Center 717-217-6720
Or online: SummitHealth.org/paymybill
Or, patients can mail payments using the addresses provided on the statements.