Think you have coronavirus? Don't run to the hospital or urgent care | News | Palo Alto Online |


Think you have coronavirus? Don't run to the hospital or urgent care

Local hospitals and clinics advise the public to give them a call first

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So you think you have the new coronavirus. Hospitals have a word of advice before you barge into the emergency room or urgent care center: Please call first.

Sutter Health and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation are following Santa Clara County Public Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to identify and evaluate patients who may have contracted the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, according to Sutter's website.

If someone feels sick, first off, don't panic, they said. The flu or another respiratory virus is still the most likely cause, the medical organizations noted. Patients should contact their local public health department or their doctor for advice.

"If you feel sick enough to go to an emergency department, call ahead to alert the staff that you're coming and tell them that you're concerned you might have the new coronavirus," Sutter Health noted. "If you decide to go to the emergency department, request a mask be brought out to you before you enter the hospital to reduce the risk of exposing others."

The same holds true for going to urgent care.

Kaiser Permanente also asks patients to call the advice number on their membership card for further instructions if they have traveled to an area where there have been coronavirus outbreaks or if they have been exposed to the virus and have respiratory illness symptoms.

"It's important to call us before you come in. Calling ahead helps us direct you to the most appropriate care and take precautions to protect other members, patients and employees," Kaiser said on its website.

Stanford Health Care also said patients should call ahead to their health care providers before coming into clinic offices, according to its website.

"Our hospitals and clinical locations have taken additional measures to ensure safety for all patients, visitors and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask your health care provider prior to your visit," the hospital system said.

"Stanford Hospital also has well-established measures in place to prevent transmission of all communicable diseases, including flu and other respiratory illnesses. There are respiratory etiquette stations for persons visiting with cough, and hand sanitizer is available. Our staff is trained to screen patients for cough, fever and recent travel when they arrive."

El Camino Health has enacted restrictions at its hospitals in Mountain View and Los Gatos, setting temporary limits on who may visit its facilities. Hospital officials confirmed on Feb. 28 that a patient with the new coronavirus was treated at its Mountain View hospital.

Visitors at both of El Camino Health's hospitals are being screened at the doors. Anyone who has traveled within the past 14 days to a country where widespread transmission has occurred — including China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea — will not be permitted to visit patients in the hospitals. As of March 1, children under 16 are not permitted to visit patients. They are also restricted from the hospital's outpatient areas unless they are there to receive services. Hospital staff ask that only people seeking medical care or visiting a patient go to the hospitals.

Health care providers are working closely with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health, according to a statement on the El Camino Health website.

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.


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4 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2020 at 11:30 am

Hmmmm? Six people have died from Corona Virus in the United States. Last year approximately 30,000 Americans died from the flu.

Worldwide 58,000 folks died of RABIES last year - and nearly half-a-million died from malaria.

Do those statistics make the news? Nope.

If you get sick stay home. Rest. Drink fluids. Chicken soup? Absolutely. And quit listening to the mad media hyping up what will most likely be a short lived, respiratory illness that over fifty-percent (50%) of people who experience it will have ZERO symptoms.

Wash your hands. Drink chicken soup. Drink water. Wash your hands (but I repeat myself). And if you get sick stay home from work - EVEN if you work at McDonalds . . . stupid low wage jobs with zero sick days attached . . . grrrrrr

16 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Last time I had the flu, I used the PAMF telemedicine app on my smartphone. The doctor was able to take down temperature and heart readings I took myself, look down my throat using the phone's internal camera, and then transmit a prescription to my pharmacy.

Soooo much better than sitting in hospital waiting room, surrounded by infectious people. Unless you're bleeding or have a broken bone, there's little reason to go to urgent care anymore.

6 people like this
Posted by Zhao
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 3, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Important to go to ER or urgent care when in doubt...could be pneumonia or coronavirus.

We told relatives to stay in China until the threat is over. Don't want them in our house or near our children. School too important to miss because of illness.

Like this comment
Posted by Cryptoads
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Mar 4, 2020 at 9:57 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Cryptoads
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2020 at 11:20 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm

What if you don't feel sick enough for the ER, but still want to know if you have COVID-19 so you don't spread the germs around? Mike Pence announced that there are no more restrictions on who can get tested.

4 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 5:20 am

A health-worker I heard on the radio said that currently Covid-19 testing kits cost
in the thousands of dollars apiece, ( what was said was ~$3,000.00 ) so don't be
frivolous or take that lightly. Whatever the cost there is little point to do that

Masks can be helpful mostly for sick people to prevent them from spreading
germs. A mask will not necessarily do much to prevent one getting a cold, flu
or Coronavirus, though if a mask reduces touching of the fact maybe it is not
a bad idea, it just is not a necessity.

The biggest risk is for people who have close to severe flu-like symptoms and
other risk factors such as heart disease, high blood-pressure, diabetes, etc.

We have all heard and been told that this disease spreads much faster than
the flu, and the death rate is around 20 times worse than the flu so far - IN
CHINA, but it is still a small number affecting people in poor health or with
risk factors.

Let's focus on being thoughful and considerate and on the people who are at
risk. The rest of us do not have to go overboard or crazy.

That said there are two things I believe.

1. Donald Trump's attempts to cut costs in government buy getting rid of or
defunding departments that are meant to manage risks such as this was
very thoughtless and dangerous. Read Michael Lewis's "The Fifth Risk".

2. Like the idea or the cost or not, Universal Health Care For All is something
that like vaccinations or good teaching good hygiene would benefit all of
us. It is not wise or economic to roll out health care strategies at the last
minute for a few to try to turn around something that is a global pandemic.

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2020 at 7:26 am

TV news last night showed two big tents outside a San Jose hospital designed for those who think they might have the virus. In Scotland, there are drive through testing centers where people don't even get out the car to be tested.

Why are we not being told realistically what to do? We don't want covid 19 patients infecting everyone in the ER waiting rooms. They need to be kept away from general population since they could be spreading the virus.

Let's get these tents or drive through centers up and running.

2 people like this
Posted by When In Doubt- Get Tested
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2020 at 8:32 am

>> Covid-19 testing kits cost in the thousands of dollars apiece, (what was said was ~$3,000.00)

^^So what.. just let the health insurance companies pay for the kits (less a $20.00 patient co=pay). The insurance companies have been ripping policy holders off for decades.

And tax-payers can fund the tests being administered via county social services or Medicaid.

It's money well spent...compared to military budgets.

Declare war on coronavirus instead.

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 8:42 am

> And tax-payers can fund the tests being administered via county social services or Medicaid.

In your haste to defend your wasteful and inefficient position that everyone should rush and be tested, I don't think you read or understood my comment.

24 people like this
Posted by When In Doubt- Get Tested
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2020 at 8:59 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 9:16 am

The CDC Coronavirus page is here:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary - Web Link

Here is what the CDC has to say as regards testing:
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - Web Link

Should I be tested for COVID-19?:
Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.


It is counter-productive to urge everyone to go get tested and bother health care worker who have a lot on their hands at this time.

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