Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions During COVID-19 Outbreak

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a virus strain, primarily spread through respiratory droplets. That means to become infected, you generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headache.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

Prevention

How can I best protect myself?

Practice the following:

  • Wear a face mask to protect yourself and others when you’re out in public.
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people. Avoid crowds and groups of people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Standard household cleansers and wipes are effective in cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

I have a chronic condition that puts me at high risk. How can I best protect myself?

Unfortunately, there is not yet a vaccine that can prevent COVID-19, so we cannot prevent the disease.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, so we are just learning how it impacts specific groups of high-risk people. But, those who are thought to be most susceptible to serious complications of COVID-19 include people who:

  • Are over age 65.
  • Have cancer.
  • Have hypertension.
  • Have lung disease.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have heart disease.
  • Have another condition that compromises the immune system.
  • Are taking medications that suppress the immune system.

But there are things you can do to minimize your risk if you have a weakened immune system or are immunocompromised.

Are certain racial or ethnic groups at a higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19?

African Americans are more likely to acquire and die from complications of the COVID-19 virus because Black people suffer from higher rates of chronic medical conditions like diabetes and obesity, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease and asthma. All of these lower the immune system and the ability to fight off viruses. Additionally, lifestyle factors like being an essential worker and even using public transportation increase the risk of getting COVID-19.

Appointments & Access

Appointments & Access During COVID-19 Outbreak

I have a surgery scheduled at one of Cleveland Clinic's hospitals in Ohio. Is it being postponed?

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Ohio has increased significantly. We are proactively taking steps to make sure that we have the staffing and resources needed to continue safely caring for our patients. We are postponing routine (non-urgent, not life-threatening) surgical cases that require an inpatient hospital stay at most Cleveland Clinic Ohio hospitals for Friday, Nov. 13 through Friday, Nov. 20.

We will safely reschedule your surgery for a later date. If you have questions about your surgery, please contact your surgeon’s office directly.

I have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic and I am concerned about COVID-19. What safety measures are in place to protect me?

The safety of our patients and caregivers remains our top priority. We want to assure patients that our Cleveland Clinic facilities are safe for them to receive care.

We have taken steps to increase safety by:

  • Limiting visitors to our facilities.
  • Screening everyone for potential COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Providing essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers.
  • Practicing physical distancing.
  • Expanding testing capabilities.
  • Continuing to clean and disinfect surfaces frequently.
  • Requiring our caregivers to wear face shields and masks in clinical areas.
  • Requiring permitted visitors to wear masks at all times while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one.
  • Requiring patients to wear a mask for all routine appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay), and in the Emergency Department, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one.
  • Strongly encouraging hospitalized patients to wear a mask inside our facilities.

I have a loved one currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at a Cleveland Clinic facility. How can I get an update on their condition?

We know having a loved one in the hospital is stressful for you and your family — and it can be made worse by the COVID-19 precautions in place to limit the spread of the pandemic. But please be assured that caring for our patients is our top priority. 

Our teams offer daily Plan of Care visits. We try our best to include your family in these discussions (by phone or virtual meetings) so you're aware of next steps. We also know that sometimes we can't connect at that time. Or you may have questions at other times during the day and call the unit that's caring for your loved one. 

During these unprecedented times, our commitment to the highest-quality patient care may cause a delay in some of our communications. If you call the unit and aren't able to be immediately connected with a provider, this may simply be because they are currently caring for a patient. Our caregivers will make sure you are updated at the next Plan of Care visit, if not sooner. 

Here are some ways to help make the most of these update calls, so that you receive the information that's most important to you:

  • You and your family should identify a single point of contact for our providers to call. It's best if this person is the legally-authorized representative (able to make decisions for your loved one if they are unable). 
  • Have this designated person make sure that everyone in your family learns about any important updates. 
  • Keep a list of important questions so you can make sure nothing is forgotten during the call. 

Please understand that our expert providers are caring for many patients at the same time. While they may not be available at the exact time you call, we know how important it is to keep you updated. If you're not hearing from your loved one’s providers at least once a day, you can reach out to the Ombudsman Office and they can offer assistance at 216.444.2544.

Hearing directly from your loved one when they're able is also important. Besides calling on the bedside hospital phone, we also have instructions for video connection via AmWellNow, Google Hangouts, Facetime and Skype, if they have a personal device. If they don't have a personal device, we can help them schedule a time for a video call using one of our devices. Making sure hospitalized patients connect with loved ones is important for creating a healing environment.

We also have highly trained and compassionate spiritual care professionals available — not just to patients, but also to you during this stressful time. Our chaplains can help you feel connected and can be reached by calling 216.444.2518.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work toward improving the health and well-being of all of our patients during this pandemic.

What are Cleveland Clinic’s mask guidelines?

As we learn more about COVID-19 and its transmission, we are adapting our practices in order to provide the safest care to our patients and protect our caregivers. In alignment with guidelines from the CDC and direction from our state and local governments, are requiring all caregivers in all our locations to wear face masks while inside our facilities.

Face masks are required for patients at all routine appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay), Emergency Department patients and for permitted visitors. Face masks are strongly encouraged for patients admitted to the hospital and Emergency Department patients, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. Patients and permitted visitors will be given a mask to wear the entire time they are in our facilities. They may choose to bring their own masks from home. Wearing a mask is not only an effort to protect yourself, but also to help protect others.

I have an appointment at Cleveland Clinic. What do I need to bring?

Please bring your appointment reminder with you (email, MyChart or text message). When entering any Cleveland Clinic location, you and any permitted visitors (see visitor restrictions) will be screened for potential COVID-19 symptoms, including a temperature scan. In some locations, we use no-contact, hand-held thermal scanners. In other places, we use a thermal imaging system you walk through and might not even notice. You’ll be asked to sanitize your hands.

For a routine appointment or procedure (without a hospital stay), and Emergency Department visits, patients are required to wear a mask while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. Patients admitted to the hospital are strongly encouraged to wear a mask while inside our Ohio and Florida facilities. Masks from home may be worn, or masks will be provided at entrances.

I have an appointment or procedure scheduled at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. Are food options and transportation services still available? Am I able to enter the hospital through any entrance?

Yes. Our dining and transportation services are taking great lengths to ensure patients can still use them safely and easily, including expanded cleaning and safety procedures, masks for all Cleveland Clinic employees and ensuring patients and visitors are practicing social and physical distancing. Currently, we do have limited hours and options at some of our main campus eateries. Additionally, we’ve also limited the number of entrances into the hospital in an effort to protect patients, permitted visitors, caregivers and the community.

Are all Cleveland Clinic emergency departments open?

Yes, all Cleveland Clinic emergency departments remain open for care. We encourage the public to seek immediate medical attention for symptoms that suggest serious medical emergencies, such as stroke or heart attack. All patients coming to our emergency departments are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and are required to wear a mask, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. This is to help maintain the health and safety of our patients and caregivers and prevent the spread of the virus. Any patients with COVID-19 symptoms are taken to a designated area within the emergency department for care.

Visitor Guidelines

Visitor Guidelines During Covid-19 Outbreak

We’re using four new, statewide visitation levels — yellow, orange, red and purple — to protect our patients and caregivers and limit the spread of COVID-19. The visitation levels are based on data about how COVID-19 is spreading, including state and county public health information. If you are visiting a COVID-19 positive patient, you must wear provided personal protective equipment (PPE). Even when you can’t visit in person, we encourage you to stay connected virtually.

These guidelines are being put in place for the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Thank you for your understanding.

Please note: All visitors must wear a mask, have their temperature taken and sanitize their hands. Visitation guidelines are subject to change if safe physical distancing isn’t possible.

Ohio Visitation Level is RedFlorida Visitation Level is Red
LEVEL YELLOW COVID-19 POSITIVE
patients (PPE provided)
COVID-19 NEGATIVE patients
All patients Must be 18 or older Normal (open visitation)

Please note: Patients must follow all social distancing and masking guidelines.

LEVEL ORANGE COVID-19 POSITIVE
patients (PPE provided)
COVID-19 NEGATIVE patients
ADULT PATIENTS
hospitalized patients icon
Hospitalized patients
No visitors One designated visitor*
appointments icon
Appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay)
No visitors One designated visitor*
emergency department icon
Emergency department
No visitors One designated visitor*
Prenatal appointments icon
Prenatal appointments
No visitors One designated visitor*
labor and delivery icon
Labor and delivery
One visitor during labor One designated visitor*
PEDIATRIC PATIENTS
pediatric icon
Appointments, procedures and hospitalizations
One parent or guardian Two parents or guardians
emergency department icon
Emergency department
One parent or guardian Two parents or guardians

Please note: A patient's care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Patients may choose one individual (18 or older) to be their designated visitor. That designated visitor may visit each day during the patient’s hospital stay.

LEVEL RED COVID-19 POSITIVE
patients (PPE provided)
COVID-19 NEGATIVE patients
ADULT PATIENTS
hospitalized patients icon
Hospitalized patients
No visitors One designated visitor*
appointments icon
Appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay)
No visitors

No visitors, unless:

  • Special assistance** is required
  • Patient will be under sedation
  • Provider has asked the patient to bring a responsible adult
emergency department icon
Emergency department
No visitors One visitor
Prenatal appointments icon
Prenatal appointments
No visitors One visitor during fetal ultrasounds
labor and delivery icon
Labor and delivery
One visitor during labor One designated visitor*
PEDIATRIC PATIENTS
pediatric icon
Appointments, procedures and hospitalizations
One parent or guardian Two parents or guardians
emergency department icon
Emergency department
One parent or guardian One parent or guardian

Please note: A patient's care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Patients may choose one individual (18 or older) to be their designated visitor. That designated visitor may visit each day during the patient’s hospital stay.

**Special assistance is any circumstance where a patient’s care team determines that a visitor is critical to physical or emotional care.

LEVEL PURPLE COVID-19 POSITIVE
patients (PPE provided)
COVID-19 NEGATIVE patients
ADULT PATIENTS
hospitalized patients icon
Hospitalized patients
No visitors One single visit from one individual during the entire hospital stay (not daily visits)
appointments icon
Appointments and procedures (without a hospital stay)
No visitors

No visitors, unless:

  • Special assistance* is required
  • Provider has asked the patient to bring a responsible adult
emergency department icon
Emergency department
No visitors No visitors, unless special assistance is required
Prenatal appointments icon
Prenatal appointments
No visitors No visitors
labor and delivery icon
Labor and delivery
One visitor during labor One visitor during labor
PEDIATRIC PATIENTS
pediatric icon
Appointments, procedures and hospitalizations
One parent or guardian One parent or guardian
emergency department icon
Emergency department
One parent or guardian One parent or guardian

Please note: A patient's care team may make compassionate exceptions, when appropriate.

*Special assistance is any circumstance where a patient’s care team determines that a visitor is critical to physical or emotional care.

Visitor Guidelines for Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation Hospitals in Ohio:

No visitors are permitted until further notice. We appreciate your understanding as we uphold our commitment to keeping patients, caregivers and the community safe.

Visitor Guidelines for Locations Other Than Ohio and Florida:

For All Permitted Visitors:

  • Anyone who is sick, has a fever, or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 28 days a confirmed case of COVID-19 should not visit or accompany a patient.
  • Visitors must be over 18 and be fever- and symptom-free.
  • All visitors to patients with COVID-19 must wear personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Permitted visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while inside our facilities, unless they have a health or behavioral condition that prevents them from wearing one. Visitors may bring their own mask from home, or masks will be provided to them upon entering our facilities. Visitors to patients with COVID-19 must wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Visitors to hospital settings will not be permitted to enter our facilities between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. unless a compassionate exception applies.
  • Designated visitors must show a photo ID at the entrance to verify identity.
  • Upon entering our facilities, visitors will continue to be thermal screened, required to wear a mask, asked screening questions upon entry into Ohio locations and asked to sanitize their hands before and after entering clinical areas and waiting rooms.
  • To help maintain physical distancing, visitors must limit the number of items they bring when visiting a patient at our facilities.

Testing

Florida Thanksgiving Holiday Hours

The Florida COVID-19 testing location and nurse triage hotline will be closed on Thursday, November 26, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Normal operations will resume on Friday, November 27.

Testing Information During COVID-19 Outbreak

What patients are being prioritized for drive-up and on-site testing?

Cleveland Clinic is providing drive-up and on-site testing for patients suspected of having COVID-19. Patients will need to be evaluated by a clinician using Cleveland Clinic Express Care Online or in-person, and will need a Cleveland Clinic electronic doctor’s order to be tested. Patients who meet criteria for COVID-19 testing will be given an appointment and directed to a testing location.

See testing locations in Ohio and Florida.

I have a scheduled surgery or procedure and was told I need a COVID-19 test before my appointment. Why do I need a test when I’m not showing any symptoms?

One way we maintain a safe environment for our patients and caregivers is by requiring patients to undergo COVID-19 testing within three days prior to any surgery or procedure in a Cleveland Clinic operating room, ambulatory surgery center and select locations.

Recently published data in The Lancet supports our pre-operative testing requirement. The study found that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 were at higher risk of post-operative complications. By requiring patients to complete pre-operative testing, we help protect our patients and caregivers.

How do I get a COVID-19 test if required pre-surgery?

All patients with scheduled surgeries or procedures taking place in a Cleveland Clinic ambulatory surgery center or operating room will be tested for COVID-19 within three days, or 72 hours, prior to their surgery or procedure date. When a surgery or procedure is scheduled, a COVID-19 test will also be ordered.

We have several testing locations, throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida, designated for patients who have an upcoming surgery or procedure. An appointment for the COVID-19 test will be scheduled at a location and time most convenient for the patient.

Can I get a COVID-19 test at another, non-Cleveland Clinic location for my surgery or procedure?

Yes, outside testing is accepted but all patients must have written documentation of their test and results that adhere to the three-day, or 72-hour, testing window.

What steps should I take between the day of my test and my scheduled surgery or procedure to prevent being infected with COVID-19?

Following testing for COVID-19, we suggest patients isolate themselves at home. We recommend patients limit contact with other household members. When this is not possible, please maintain appropriate safety measures including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social and physical distancing by staying 6 feet away from others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public, especially in places where it’s hard to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and another person. Cloth face masks are being recommended because we now know individuals with COVID-19 could have mild or no symptoms, while still spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth mask doesn’t replace the need for physical distancing.
  • Use standard household cleansers and wipes to effectively clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

How long will results from a COVID-19 test take?

For patients in the hospital, and those tested in our Emergency Departments who are considered very ill or at risk, results are available within 24 hours (on average).

For patients being tested at our drive-thru facility or a pre-surgical testing location, results are available on average within a few days. Patients are asked to remain at home until their test results are released. Once processed, COVID-19 test results are now available immediately in a patient’s MyChart, our secure online health management tool.

Cleveland Clinic caregiver taking a swab for COVID-19 test
A Cleveland Clinic caregiver will ask you to roll down your window and tilt your head back slightly, so they can swab the back of your nose and throat.

Affected Services

Affected Services During COVID-19 Outbreak

Ohio

Some non-essential surgeries are being postponed

Services currently suspended until further notice:

Locations with services or hours currently affected:

Events or classes cancelled or postponed:

Eatery and food service changes:

Florida

Services currently suspended until further notice:

Events or classes cancelled or postponed:

Eatery and food service changes:

Other Locations

Services currently suspended until further notice: