COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the important questions on the minds of people in our community. If you do not find the information you need here, please call the Montefiore-Einstein COVID-19 Hotline at 1-844-444-CV19 (888-444-2819) to learn more.

Many of our offices have limited appointments or are closed for in-person visits, but they are offering virtual visits via either the phone or video, what is known as telehealth. To schedule an appointment, call your regular doctor’s office or clinic. They will ask questions about your needs and tell you if telehealth visits are available or direct you to the appropriate care option. If you need help finding a doctor, call 1-800-MD-MONTE (800-636-6683). Learn more about doctor video visits by clicking here.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is highly contagious and can spread from person to person. It is caused by the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus, which is a “novel” virus, meaning it has never been seen in humans before this outbreak. It was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The virus can spread from person to person, which means you can contract the virus if you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You may also be at risk if you live or come into close contact with someone known to have traveled to areas of ongoing spread, including international locations (China, South Korea, Italy, Iran) or places here in the U.S. such as Washington, New York City and San Francisco.

The virus is thought to spread by people in close contact (approximately within 6 feet) through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible to contract the virus by touching an infected surface or item and then touching the nose, eyes or mouth. The virus may be able to live on a surface for a prolonged period of time.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Individuals experiencing these symptoms or combination of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the symptoms below: 

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat 
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Some patients develop pneumonia in both lungs, experience multi-organ failure and, in some cases, even die from other complications. Many of the individuals with the most severe complications have a compromised immune system from other underlying medical conditions or are considered part of a vulnerable population due to age.

  • Unless you are an essential worker, stay at home.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Impose social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet, and avoid all physical contact with others when outside your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm or cool water for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Hand sanitizer should be used only if you do not have access to soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and/or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use a face covering, such as a scarf or bandana, if you need to go out for essentials. Do NOT use a professional surgical mask; these are in short supply and needed by our first responders and healthcare workers to protect themselves while in very close contact with infected people.

Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming into contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It can include large-scale measures like canceling group events or the closure of public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds.

  • Stay at home when you’re sick and isolate yourself. If you live with others, try to stay in a separate room and wear a mask.
  • Always cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces you touch while you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

If you have traveled or encountered someone who has traveled to an affected area, please limit your movements or interactions with others for the next two weeks. If you begin to develop severe symptoms during this timeframe (i.e., trouble breathing), please seek medical advice. Call your provider’s office and inform them regarding your symptoms and travel. They will let you know how to get care without exposing others to the virus.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to take everyday precautions and avoid close contact with others to prevent the spread of the virus.

There is no antiviral medication to treat COVID-19. You must seek medical advice if you contract the virus and have symptoms. Avoid people who are sick, and wash your hands as frequently as possible. Clean and disinfect all surfaces you touch while you’re sick.

If you are not sick, and you are not working in a healthcare setting, you should use a face covering, such as a scarf or bandana, if you need to go out for essentials, but not a surgical mask; these are in short supply and needed by our first responders and healthcare workers to protect themselves while in very close contact with infected people.

If you do have symptoms like coughing or sneezing, you should wear a mask to prevent spreading the illness to others.

If you are caring for a patient with COVID-19, you should wear a mask while in close contact with that person.

Testing is limited at this time. This is a new virus, so a new test had to be developed, and testing kits are not as widely available as we’d like. If a doctor determines that a test for COVID-19 is needed, it will be sent to a laboratory that is able to perform testing for COVID-19.

Remember, a test is not a treatment or a cure. If you have symptoms, stay home and maintain your distance from others. Double-down on hand washing and cleaning surfaces you frequently touch. Workers in essential businesses who have symptoms may be required to stay home for a week or two and self-isolate, but not necessarily tested at this time.

Developed for screening of COVID-19 using precautionary measures to prevent community spread, mobile testing sites allow patients to be tested while remaining in their vehicles. These sites are available for testing by appointment only for patients with a positive screening and a high risk of severe disease.

  • Stay at home except to get urgent medical care. Avoid using public transportation to contain the spread of the virus.
  • Isolate yourself to a specific room in your home to protect your family members, and use a separate bathroom if possible.
  • You must call ahead before visiting your provider’s office or another healthcare facility like an urgent care office. They will inform you on how to get medical care while still ensuring the safety of other patients.

Yes. We are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our patients and their visitors.

As mandated by the State of New York, visitor access to all of our locations will be restricted as follows:

Visitors have been prohibited at all Montefiore locations, including emergency departments, hospitals/inpatient units and all ambulatory sites. Exceptions will be made for the following care areas:

  • Pediatrics, including Pediatric Emergency Department and NICU – One healthy visitor can accompany the patient at a time.
  • Labor and Delivery – One designated, healthy, asymptomatic visitor may accompany each patient during labor and delivery. No visitors will be permitted in the triage, antepartum or postpartum units. During labor and delivery, visitors must remain in the room with the patient at all times. One designated asymptomatic healthy partner can be with the patient during active labor and the immediate postpartum period including recovery.
  • Palliative Care Patients in Imminent End-of-Life Situations – One support person can be with the patient. If there is a minor child involved there may be two individuals: the support person plus the minor child.
  • Geriatrics Patients – One support person can accompany the patient for ambulatory visits, when coming in for surgical procedures, or if admitted as an inpatient.
  • At Discharge – A patient may have one healthy support person come in to assist with discharge.
  • Adult Emergency Department – One support person can accompany patients in need of assistance.
  • Patients with Developmental Disabilities or Cognitive Impairments, Including Dementia – One healthy support person can accompany the patient at a time.

Please note that all visitors will be screened for COVID-19 at the entrances and will be turned away if they display any symptoms of the virus. We apologize to our patients for any inconvenience this may cause and assure you that these steps are necessary to ensure the safety of all patients and visitors while we manage the COVID-19 crisis.

If your appointment has not been canceled or postponed at this time, then you should make every effort to attend. If you require someone to accompany you to the appointment, please make sure that person is healthy without any flu or cold symptoms.

If you are not feeling well and experience cold or flu symptoms, we ask that you consult your provider by phone. This will limit the potential exposure of other patients to your illness.

  • Wear a face mask whenever you’re around your family members. If you are unable to wear a face mask because it causes trouble breathing, ask your family members to wear face masks whenever they are around you.
  • Cover your coughs or sneezes and wash your hands with soap and water immediately. You should also sanitize any surfaces you may have touched with a disinfectant that contains 60–95% alcohol.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not available.
  • Clean all high-touch surfaces every day, including tables, countertops, doorknobs, bath fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
  • Make sure to clean any surfaces that may come into contact with blood, stool or bodily fluids. These surfaces should be cleaned with household disinfectants. Make sure to follow labeled instructions on how to properly and safely use these products.

Seek medical attention if your condition is worsening (i.e., if you have difficulty breathing). Before seeking medical care, be sure to call your healthcare provider and tell them you are being evaluated for COVID-19. Make sure to wear a face mask before you enter the facility. Ask your healthcare provider to contact your local or state health department. People placed under active monitoring or self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by your local health department.

If you have a medical emergency, you must call 911 and inform the dispatcher that you are being evaluated for COVID-19.

If you have contracted COVID-19, you should remain under home isolation until the transmission to others is low. The decision to discontinue home isolation should be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with your healthcare provider. In general, you should remain at home until at least 7 days after your symptoms started, your symptoms are improving, and you have not had a fever for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc.).

Trusted Information Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The leading national public health institute of the United States

For the latest COVID-19 guidelines and information from New York State 

World Health Organization

UN agency responsible for international public health