Woman taking temperature with thermometer

What to do if you think you have COVID-19

This article was updated June 26, 2020, to reflect new information from the CDC.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a novel, or new, virus, and we are still learning how to contain it.

The symptoms can easily be mistaken for other illnesses, including influenza, common cold and allergies, to name a few.

Know the symptoms

Because of the similarities to other illnesses, you should take extra precautions if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

You should also be aware of emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention such as:

  • Difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to respond
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical condition

Know your care options

Suspect you have COVID-19?

> Get screened

If you suspect you might be infected with COVID-19, DO NOT immediately go to the hospital or a doctor’s office, as your presence there will heighten the risk of spreading the disease to other people.

Instead, get screened by chatting with Clare, our virtual assistant on the OSF HealthCare website.

Receiving an appropriate screening from the COVID-19 Nurse Hotline could lead to the assignment of a Pandemic Health Worker, a trained individual who will digitally connect with you during the pandemic crisis, monitor your symptoms and ensure you get the care you need safely at home.

Safely seek care

If you start experiencing symptoms while away from home or you are directed to visit a health care provider, take the following precautions:

  • Wear a facemask. This will help prevent droplets from coughs and sneezes from spreading through the air. If you don’t have a facemask, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Try to cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm rather than into your hands. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Avoid groups of people, and if impossible, maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people.

Recovering at home

If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have tested positive for the disease, you pose a substantial health and safety risk to the community and you need to isolate yourself as quickly as you can. You do not want to pass COVID-19 on to anyone else. Remain in home isolation until your health care provider clears you to leave.

Last Updated: March 15, 2021

About Author: David Pruitt

David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelor’s of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014.

An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.

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Categories: COVID-19, General