Common Questions About COVID-19 and the Emergency Room

Common Questions About COVID-19 and the Emergency Room


Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.

As the name implies, the novel coronavirus is, well, new. This can leave people with a lot of questions, especially when it comes to seeking medical care. We’ve received a lot of questions about COVID-19 and going to the emergency room, so we’ve compiled them to give you the latest information all in one place.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, a dry cough, and fatigue. Other symptoms include aches and pains, a sore throat, congestion, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty breathing. You can learn more about the symptoms here.

Will Wearing a Mask in the ER Protect Me From COVID-19?

Wearing a mask in any public setting will reduce your risk of catching COVID-19, even in an emergency room. Studies have shown that using fabric to cover the mouth reduces the amount of microbial aerosols emitted when speaking.

Dr. Jose Rosillo, an emergency medicine physician with St. Luke’s Health, shared this information about ER policies, “We are immediately masking every patient and visitor on arrival. All of our staff are also wearing masks. This significantly decreases the possibility of infecting each other.”

Can Someone Visit Me in the ER?

As of June 29, 2020, visitors will not be allowed in high-risk areas, including the emergency department. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by hospital administration. Based on community prevalence and individual facility space considerations, slight variations may exist at an individual hospital location.

This policy is subject to change as circumstances evolve. You can read the rest of our latest visitor policy here.

When Should I Go to the ER for COVID-19?

Some symptoms can indicate a severe reaction to COVID-19, including:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden confusion
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blue-tinged lips or face

If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, call 911 or head to your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency room. Our emergency teams are taking precautions to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe.

“We’ve put a multitude of safety measures in place,” said Dr. Rosillo. “These include screening patients on entry and segregating them based on their likelihood of infection, placing surgical masks on every patient and visitor, limiting visitation, and thorough room disinfection between patients.”

Sources:
CDC | Symptoms of Coronavirus
CDC | Effectiveness of Cloth Masks for Protection Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2
The New England Journal of Medicine | Visualizing Speech-Generated Oral Fluid Droplets with Laser Light Scattering

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