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COVID-19 FAQs

COVID-19 General Questions | Travel Impact | Donations  | Tips to Stay Healthy | Get Updated Information

This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and NorthShore will provide updated information as it becomes available.

We continue to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, loss or decrease of smell or taste, muscle aches with flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, chills or shaking chills, headache, diarrhea, nausea or other gastrointestinal symptoms OR had contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 infection OR had contact with a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results), contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 or begin an E-Visit through NorthShoreConnect.

Read our frequently asked questions to learn more about NorthShore's response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 General Questions

What is the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a new virus that causes a respiratory viral syndrome that can range from a mild cold to severe pneumonia. A comprehensive list of symptoms is above.

Is there more than one type of coronavirus?

Yes, there are 7 kinds of coronavirus, including the one that causes the common cold. Other coronaviruses include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and COVID-19.

How is COVID-19 spread?

It’s believed to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to influenza and other respiratory infections.

Where has COVID-19 spread?

Due to the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19, please visit Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or World Health Organization websites for the latest on the number of confirmed cases and related information in our communities, the United States, and globally.

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is not a vaccine for COVID-19.

What does “contact tracing” mean?

Contact tracing is used to identify persons who may have had contact with an infected person or with a person who exhibited no symptoms at the time of contact but later developed fever and/or respiratory issues. Our public health colleagues collect this and other information about these contacts, then test or treat infected individuals, and trace their contacts in turn. This process aims to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, population, etc.

How can I participate in a COVID vaccine trial?

NorthShore University HealthSystem is not participating in any COVID-19 vaccine trials at this time.

Do I need to wear a mask to protect myself?

We require everyone to wear a cloth face covering (mask) upon entering all of our clinical locations. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided. All essential visitors will also be required to wear a mask. We also recommend wearing a mask in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies) and especially in areas of significant community spread. In fact, several surrounding communities require that you wear a mask in public. The mask is not a replacement for social distancing (remaining at least six feet from other people) but rather something to use in addition to social distancing and other key preventive measures, such as frequent hand hygiene.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms?

People with COVID-19 infection typically have one or more of the following symptoms: fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, loss or decrease of smell or taste, muscle aches with flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, chills or shaking chills, headache, diarrhea, nausea or other gastrointestinal symptoms OR had contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 infection OR had contact with a person under investigation (someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results). If you have any of these symptoms and are over 60 years old or have chronic diseases or your immune system is weak, you may be at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 infection. Not all patients with these symptoms or risk factors need COVID-19 testing. If you feel you have COVID-19 symptoms you should:

  1. Call your physician first but please be patient. There may be some delays due to the number of people calling. 
  2. Contact our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 (847.HEALTH9) and listen to the choices to guide you to the information you are looking for.
  3. If you’re a NorthShoreConnect user, you may schedule an e-visit.

If your symptoms are worsening or you think you need emergency services, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Should everyone with symptoms that could be due to COVID-19 be evaluated and tested?
As testing has become more available and there is clear evidence of community-spread, we have expanded our testing capabilities. Symptomatic individuals who are being prioritized for testing include hospitalized or critically ill patients; individuals in congregate living settings that may be part of a potential cluster of COVID-19; outpatients who are involved in frontline COVID-19 response (healthcare workers in hospitals or congregate living settings and public safety workers). If you are otherwise healthy with symptoms of fever or respiratory symptoms, please stay home, practice social distancing and use supportive care. Supportive care includes rest, fluids, using fever-reducing medications, and practicing social distancing. If you have other questions, please call our community health hotline at 847.432.5849 (847.HEALTH9) or schedule an e-visit.

I hear NorthShore has its own COVID-19 test. Can I be tested to see if I have COVID-19?

We are only providing testing to those patients who meet the CDC and IDPH criteria for testing—which is testing appropriate symptomatic individuals (people with symptoms). We are not routinely testing asymptomatic individuals (people with no symptoms).

If I test positive for COVID-19 and am then cleared of it, will I get it again?

Most similar diseases result in immunity, but there is not enough evidence yet to determine if recovery from COVID-19 guarantees immunity from future infection.

How much will it cost to get tested for COVID-19?

Testing at NorthShore University HealthSystem will come at no cost to patients. Uninsured will be offered free testing and follow up care will be managed through our financial assistance and charity program.

Government regulations require NorthShore to list “cash price” associated with COVID testing as follows:

  • COVID rapid test: $116
  • COVID High Throughput test: $230
  • Office Visit: $177-$371
  • ER visit: $875-$1,595
How many of your in-house COVID-19 tests can your lab process in one day?

We have the capacity to process 1,500 patient tests per day compared to 400 per day when we first launched our test on March 12. We’re looking to increase our testing capacity further. Daily test volumes depend heavily on the pandemic’s fluid and evolving nature. Our results continue to be available in under two days.


Travel Impact to High Incidence States

What is the definition of a high incidence state?

The CDC defines a high incidence state as one that has a 7-day rolling average of 15 or more positive cases per 100,000 people in the population. Some states have set their own high incidence thresholds that are lower than the CDC definition. Prior to traveling, you should check the public health recommendations for the state to which you are traveling.

If I’m returning home from traveling to a high incidence state or internationally, and I need to seek non-emergency care at NorthShore, what should I do?

If your care visit is in an office, procedural or surgical setting, or within any ancillary or lab service area, there are several things you can do:

  1. If possible, defer your visit for 14 days after your travels and remain quarantined;
  2. During the 14-day quarantine, if possible, complete your visit through Telehealth;
  3. If you believe you have an issue that requires an in-person visit within the 14 days, call and speak to your provider who will provide additional guidance;
  4. NorthShoreConnect users can message their care team for guidance.
What if my visit requires me to be in-person due to the nature of my care or the time-sensitive nature of my issue?

When calling your provider, please identify if you’ve traveled from a high incidence state in the U.S. or are returning from international travel. If either of those situations is your only risk factor and you are not experiencing any other COVID-related symptoms, your care team will determine if your visit must be in-person.

Is there an optimal time to schedule my in-person visit?

It is best to schedule your appointment near the end of the day, if possible.

Is it safe to use public transportation to get to my visit?

We encourage our patients not to use public transportation to their visit, if possible. This action is necessary for the safety and protection of our patients, care teams and communities.

What safety measures must I follow when I arrive for my visit?

For everyone’s safety and protection, please do the following when you arrive:

  1. Wear a facemask that completely covers your nose and mouth;
  2. Maintain proper social distancing measures;
  3. Perform regular hand hygiene using an alcohol based handrub or soap and water;
  4. Answer the COVID symptom screening questions;
  5. Leave all food and drink in your vehicle.
What happens if the screening determines I have COVID-related symptoms?

If possible symptoms are present, the care team will confer with your physician to determine if the visit should proceed.

If your physician feels that your symptoms may be related to an acute COVID infection, you will be referred to an appropriate Immediate Care Center location.

If your physician does not feel your symptoms are COVID-related and wishes to proceed, your visit will be limited to 30 minutes, if possible.

I live in a high incidence state. How will that impact my care?

We ask that you kindly quarantine before a scheduled visit if possible. Please contact your provider for guidance and instructions.

Am I allowed to bring a relative or friend with me to my in-person visit?

For everyone’s safety, we ask that you come by yourself to your appointment unless it is absolutely necessary—as in the case of a parent or guardian bringing a child or an individual who needs a caregiver at all times.

If I do bring a relative or friend with me, will they also undergo screening?

Yes. If the screening determines that they have COVID-related symptoms, they will be asked to leave the office and wait in their vehicle until your appointment is over.

What if I’ve traveled to high incidence states but was only there for a day or less?

The above processes do not apply to any individuals who have passed through high incidence states for less than 24 hours—through the course of travel such as changing planes at airports or driving through high incidence states.

Where can I get more information?

Many of the local health departments are in agreement on their approach and we have identified the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) as the preferred source of updated information. Please visit the CDPH website.


Donations from the Community

I would like to make a donation to NorthShore to help support the fight against COVID-19. How do I make a contribution?

NorthShore is appreciative and grateful for the outpouring of support from our community. We are currently accepting financial contributions through a special COVID-19 Response Fund. Click here to make a contribution. We are also accepting donations of select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate.

I have supplies that I would like to donate to NorthShore. How do I make that donation?

We are currently accepting select, critical supplies. Learn more about the supplies we need and the process to donate. Thank you for your generosity.


Tips for Everyone to Stay Healthy

What can I do to protect my health and safety?

There are several things we can all do to remain safe, healthy, and vigilant.

  • Clean your hands often. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use sanitizer when washing is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you do, please wash your hands.
  • Practice social distancing: 6 feet of distance between people. This means keep space between you and others in public spaces.
  • Avoid contact with people who seem ill.
  • Avoid social gatherings where social distancing cannot be practiced. Use technology such as FaceTime/video communication to keep in touch with loved ones.
  • Please remember that social distancing is essential.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Do not return to work until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without taking fever-reducing medications.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or in the crook of your arm; throw away used tissue and wash your hands.
  • Do NOT smoke or vape.


Where to Get Updated Information

Where can I find more information about coronavirus?

You may also access additional information from the following sites: