COVID-19 Information

What is the coronavirus, COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are actually common throughout the world and can cause respiratory illness in people and animals. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe illness — Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. 

What's different about the coronavirus, COVID-19?

While coronaviruses are common, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that had previously not been identified in humans. The key features of COVID-19 are respiratory symptoms with a fever and cough. Like all new infections, understanding COVID-19 is important and changes rapidly. The CDC is proactively monitoring the virus and taking measures like providing guidance for health care workers and issuing travel recommendations.

How are coronaviruses spread?

An investigation of the COVID-19 is still ongoing but other human coronaviruses are spread through person-to-person contact. Similar to cold and flu, a person becomes sick through close contact with an infected person. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person through coughing and sneezing or by touching surfaces with the virus on them. 

Who is at risk for getting COVID-19?

According to the CDC, early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

How can I avoid getting COVID-19?

The best way to protect yourself and loved ones from contracting the Coronavirus is by using the same six daily habits that help prevent the spread of many viruses, including the common cold and the flu:
  • Keep Hands Clean

    Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid Touching Face

    Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Have a Cough or Cold?

    Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.

  • Clean Surfaces

    Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

  • Feeling Sick?

    Stay home when you're sick (and keep sick children home from school).

  • Physical Contact

    Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Practice social distancing

Social distancing will protect our vulnerable populations. We all play a part in preventing spread. Social distancing slows the rate of infection, allowing our hospitals and clinics to effectively handle the volume of patients. You may be contagious even if you do not have symptoms, or if you're confident you can recover successfully. Social distancing protects our highest risk citizens right now and protects our hospital system in the weeks and months to come as we bring disease transmission under control.

Make no mistake: this is a complicated disease. Our choices, our decisions, our behaviors, are how we will overcome this moment. While most who contract COVID-19 only become mildly ill, it is extremely deadly for the elderly and people with chronic health problems. You may be one of those people, or you may love one of those people. We must all own this fight. We must unify against this threat, for ourselves, our loved ones, and our friends and neighbors.

Reducing the number of people who are sick at once is the best way to keep our health system from being overwhelmed. And that in turn helps not just COVID-19 patients but also everyone else who must seek treatment in a hospital.

  • Feeling Sick

    Stay Home. Remain quarantined. Do not go out for non-essential reasons. If you must go out, be vigilant about hand hygiene and cough etiquette and avoid groups and close personal interactions. Do not interact with the elderly or with those who have known health complications.

  • Feeling Well

    You can play a part by avoiding group interactions. This includes attending church, sporting events, social gatherings. Avoid any nonessential travel, specifically to areas affected by COVID-19. Continue to practice quality hygiene efforts, including frequent hand washing and cough etiquette.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I donate plasma?

To register to donate send an email to or visit

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 don’t yet have a vaccine.

How does COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) 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?

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. Symptoms and criteria like travel to an area of spread or close contact with a confirmed patient are required before testing for COVID-19. Please contact Intermountain Connect Care, Health Answers (844-501-6600), or your primary care provider 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 it’s 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).

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

Safety is our priority at Intermountain Healthcare. Our facilities and staff are prepared to continue safe, routine care during public health issues. It’s important that you continue to access care for your health needs as you normally would. If you have a procedure, appointment, or test scheduled and you are healthy, there is no reason to cancel these appointments.

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

Social media may contain false information. It’s important to rely on reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets, and to not share or repost information unless you’re able to confirm it’s 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.

Are there medication shortages?

Intermountain Healthcare’s Drug Shortage Team monitors drug shortages on a daily basis. We have a Drug Shortage Team to decrease any impact of shortages to our patients.

There is concern in the public that the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, could cause or worsen drug shortages. Because a large amount of the raw ingredients used to make drugs are obtained from foreign sources impacted by COVID-19, there is potential impact to drug supplies in the United States.

For these reasons our shortage team is proactively working with the companies from whom we obtain medications to make sure we know which drugs might be impacted. We have back-up plans in place—such as alternative medications—if we do see a decrease of drug availability as a result of COVID-19. The medications we are currently watching are in good supply at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also closely following the supply of drugs and has identified only 20, non-critical drugs that have active ingredients solely sourced from China. The FDA is in contact with those manufacturers and 180 others to remind them of legal reporting requirements for shortages in drugs or their active ingredients.

We are also aware that patients have concerns about filling prescriptions should they find themselves in a quarantine situation. Intermountain’s Home Delivery Pharmacy is capable of increasing its processing of prescriptions in such a situation.


Learn More by Visiting Utah Department of Health's COVID-19 FAQ


Individuals at high-risk for COVID include people with any one of the following conditions: aged 65 or higher, underlying medical conditions involving the heart or lungs, severe obesity, or immunocompromised immune systems.

If you fall into a high-risk category, or care for somebody who does, and you need help taking care of meals, grocery shopping, or medication delivery, Utah has a helpline for you: 1-877-424-4640.