General COVID-19 Questions

Common general questions about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common throughout the world that can cause respiratory illness in people and animals. Several known coronaviruses that infect people usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is a specific coronavirus new to humans and we haven’t yet built up immunity.

How does COVID-19 spread?

At this time, there are two ways COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is thought to spread:

  • Person-to-person: Between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), for significant periods of time, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Contact with infected surfaces or objects: A person can conceivably get COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How is it treated?

At this time, no vaccine protects against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and no medications are approved to treat it. Supportive care is the most important response strategy.

What are the signs and symptoms?

COVID-19 Symptom Guide Twitter-01

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with severity ranging from mild to severe illness. In other coronaviruses, common signs of infection include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. Currently, if you haven't traveled to an infected region where there is community spread or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk is very low.

How do you know the difference between the flu and COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)?

Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are difficult to distinguish from those of the flu. Providers look at risks like travel or exposure, and then testing is required. Please contact Intermountain Connect Care, the COVID-19 Hotline (844-442-5224), or your primary care physician for initial screening.

What’s the current risk assessment for the American public?

The CDC has developed these guidelines to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposure COVID-19 (novel coronavirus):

  • For the general American public in areas where there are no reports of community spread, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is considered low.
  • People in communities where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) has been reported are at an elevated, though still relatively low, risk of exposure.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are at elevated risk of exposure if they’re not wearing correct personal protective equipment.
  • People in close contact with persons with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

Most COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) infections are mild. Who is at higher risk of becoming very ill or dying?

People with underlying lung disease (asthma, chronic lung disease), weakened immune systems, and the elderly are at risk of having more complex complications if they were to contract COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

How often are we testing for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)?

We’re testing individuals when they meet the CDC case definition for a Person Under Investigation. Once a positive result is found, the individual will be tested again and will need two negative results in a row to be considered cleared. Those tests will be done at an interval determined by the course of the individual’s signs and symptoms.

What is the incubation period?

The incubation period for the virus is one to 14 days, with the most common timeframe being five days. This is still a new disease and this timeframe could change as more information becomes available.

How do you know if someone is cleared of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)?

Two negative tests performed 24 hours apart are required to be cleared.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

People are thought to be most contagious when they’re most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before someone shows symptoms. There have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but its not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Does Utah’s air pollution increase the risk of the virus spreading?

Whether or not the environment increases risk is unknown. However, individuals who have underlying lung conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease that are affected by environmental factors could be at risk of having a more complicated illness course if they’re infected with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

What if a natural disaster happens at the same time as a pandemic?

Intermountain has disaster preparedness plans for many types of disasters. This is handled through emergency management, and we hold regular drills for different scenarios. If another disaster were to happen, the appropriate teams would gather to help deal with all concerns.

I’m supposed to have a procedure done at an Intermountain facility. What are the risks of contracting COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)?

All hospitals, urgent care centers, and other treatment centers in the state are dealing with how to handle patients who present with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel. Intermountain has guidelines for all healthcare workers on how to deal with any patient that presents with symptoms. Our priority is to keep our patients and staff safe.

I’ve seen a lot of rumors on social media about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). How do I know what information is accurate?

Many rumors related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) circulating on social media are false or contain misinformation. You should be skeptical of rumors you hear on social media that aren’t reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets — and don’t share or repost information unless you’re able to confirm its true. The best information available comes through the CDC or the Utah Department of Health.

Is Intermountain prepared for a potential pandemic?

Intermountain is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to update caregivers and our communities as new information is made available by the CDC and Utah Department of Health. Intermountain is prepared to respond in case of a pandemic and stands ready to assist caregivers and the community through a larger potential spread of the illness.

How do I contact Connect Care?

You can contact Connect Care at, with the mobile app, or by calling 801-442-2610. All Connect Care providers are trained in screening specifically for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).