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What You Need to Know 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.

Paul Goen, MD, FACEP, the emergency department medical director at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital, shared this information about the ER, “We have instituted numerous safety measures in our emergency departments to ensure patient and staff safety. All of our staff members are screened daily for signs, symptoms, and fever. Once in the hospital, all of our staff members wear masks. All of our physicians and APPs seeing patients in the emergency department wear masks, eye protection, and gloves. If there is high suspicion for COVID-19, we also wear full gowns. Additionally, our staff members are constantly observing one another to ensure that we are using our PPE appropriately and that we are sanitizing appropriately.”

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. Joseph Health emergency room. Our emergency teams are taking precautions to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe.

“I can assure you that we take way more precautions in our emergency department than just about anywhere else you may visit,” said Dr. Goen. “Visiting one of our departments is certainly safer than simply going to the grocery store.”

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

Recent Updates

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Feeling unwell after recovering from COVID-19? You may have long COVID. Learn about what it means and what recovery tips to keep in mind.

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