For Patients

Last update 3/31/21

How does COVID-19 spread and who is at risk?

Public health officials with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are continuing to study the spread and effects of COVID-19 across the United States. The CDC does not fully understand how it spreads but it seems to infect people fairly easily for those in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The virus is thought to be mainly spread through droplets of fluid that a person coughs or sneezes into the air. It may also be spread if you touch a surface with the virus on it, such as a door knob, steering wheel, or a store key pad, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

People are thought to be most contagious when they have symptoms and are sick. However, studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the coronavirus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the coronavirus can spread between people interacting in close proximity. It is critical that you frequently keep your hands washed and maintain at least 6 feet distance from other people when you go out in public places. On May 14, 2020 the City of Los Angeles issued an order requiring all residents to wear non-medical face coverings outside of their homes, except for young children at risk for suffocation and people with certain disabilities, to help stop the spread of the virus as stay-at-home restrictions are gradually eased. This is in addition to the Worker Protection Order issued on April 7, 2020 requiring workers in essential businesses to wear non-medical face coverings. See more information below.

You are most at risk if you are over 60 years of age. People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, obesity, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. People with other conditions might be at an increased risk, including pregnant women.

Current cases in Los Angeles County, the United States, and the spread by state is on our COVID-19 Facts page, updated regularly.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

Some people who have been sick from COVID-19 have had only mild symptoms while others have become severely ill. Symptoms usually appear gradually, 2 to 14 days after exposure. People with the following symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

Symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of smell and taste
  • Congestion or runny nose

Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness. This list is not all inclusive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Please consult with your doctor for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Severe Symptoms

If you have any of these emergency warning signs get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

This list is not all possible symptoms. Please consult with your doctor for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 if you are having a medical emergency.


What should I do if I think I'm sick with COVID-19?

If you have mild symptoms, there may be no need to see a doctor. If you are feeling sick and think you might have COVID-19, contact your primary care doctor by phone or email first before going in. Your doctor’s office will decide the next steps for your care. If you are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant may be at higher risk of serious illness and should contact your doctor early if you are sick. Call 911 if you are having a medical emergency. This information was obtained from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH).

In addition, to help prevent the spread to others, if you are mildly sick, the CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) have issued guidelines on what to do. These were updated on May 8, 2020 which include staying home (self-isolating) for at least 10 days and until 72 hours after being fever and symptom free. Visit the CDC website for more information. The LACDPH has provided downloadable PDFs with information about staying home and home isolation. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen.

If you are coming to Valley Presbyterian Hospital's Emergency Department or another entrance, and you have a fever, cough or problems breathing, please call ahead beforehand or let our care team know immediately upon arrival so that we can safely provide appropriate care. Please be advised that as of March 20, 2020 Valley Presbyterian Hospital has a "No Visitor" policy for accompanying patients to the Emergency Department, and for visiting patients, with a few exceptions. More information is on our COVID-19 portal page.


Can I get tested for the coronavirus at Valley Presbyterian Hospital?

The City of Los Angeles is providing free COVID-19 testing to all Los Angeles County residents, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. Priority is given to people with symptoms. For more information visit the City of Los Angeles COVID-19 Testing page.

If you have come to Valley Presbyterian Hospital and have symptoms, we will test you for the virus. Testing is done with a nose and throat swap and a small sample taken of mucus coughed from your lungs. Please be advised that as of March 20, 2020 Valley Presbyterian Hospital has a "No Visitor" policy for accompanying patients to the Emergency Department, and for visiting patients, with a few exceptions. More information is on our COVID-19 portal page. More information about the treatment of COVID-19 is on our Facts page.


Is the Covid-19 vaccine currently available?

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as of January 5, 2021 vaccinations are proceeding throughout Los Angeles County as they continue to build capacity. The County has been actively vaccinating frontline healthcare workers at acute care hospitals; staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities; individuals 65 and older; workers in education and childcare, emergency services and law enforcement, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, janitorial and maintenance services; and individuals with health conditions and disabilities. High-priority groups may receive communication from their health care provider with information on how to receive the vaccine or they may visit the Los Angeles County Covid-19 Vaccine page. As of April 1, residents aged 50 - 64 are eligible to receive the vaccination. As of April 15, the vaccination will be available to any resident aged 16 and older. To find additional County information, sign up for email notifications, or sign up for a vaccine appointment (if eligible), visit the Los Angeles County Covid-19 Vaccine page.

According to the CDC nationally, there have been 150,273,292 million vaccines administered through March 31, 2021 in the United States. Overall, over 97.5 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is 29.4% of the U.S. population. Over 54.6 million people have received two doses, or about 16.4% of the population.


Are the Los Angeles Safer at Home and Worker Protection Orders still in place?

Yes. The orders are still in effect, with modifications. As of March 15, 2021 the County has moved into the 2nd tier of reopening (Red Tier).

As of March 15, 2021 Los Angeles County has issued a revised public health order. The order was issued due to the recent decline in cases, hospitalizations and positive tests in the County, however, the pandemic is still present. Residents must continue exercising caution and limit close contact with others outside of their household in both indoor and outdoor spaces. When leaving your home, residents should continue to practice social distancing (staying 6 feet away from people who don't live with you), wash hands frequently, and wear a face covering. Any private gatherings must be held outside for a maximum of two (2) hours and limited to three (3) households or a maximum of 15 people. Outdoor gatherings with singing, shouting or chanting are strongly discouraged. If they do occur, masks must be worn and 8-10 feet of physical distance must be maintained.

As of March 15, the following lower-risk businesses may reopen with social distancing and specific infection control protocols. These include (1) retailers (Lower-Risk Retail Businesses), (2) manufacturing and logistics sector businesses that supply Lower-Risk Retail Businesses, (3) Non-Essential office-based businesses (if persons can telework or work from home, they should continue to do so as much as possible), (4) Indoor Malls and Shopping Centers. All Lower-Risk Retail Businesses and Essential Office-Based Businesses that are open for indoor operations, along with Indoor Malls and Shopping Centers, must limit capacity at 50%. Food courts are limited to 25% capacity, (5) Limited Services businesses at 50% capacity.

In addition, these include: Restaurants for delivery, drive-thru, carry out, outdoor dining, and 25% capacity for indoor dining; grocery stores at 50% capacity; indoor personal care establishments (hair salons, nail salons, skin care, tattoo parlors, massage therapy) by appointment only at 50% capacity; outdoor gyms at 50% capacity; inside gyms at 10%; outside portions of museums, galleries, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums at full capacity; indoor portions of museums, galleries, botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums at 25% capacity; outdoor batting cages and miniature golf venues at 50% capacity; outdoor playgrounds and recreational parks including beaches, golf courses, swimming pools, trails, parks, day camps, and camping parks; movie theaters at 25% capacity with reserved seating; and libraries with curbside pick up. Other low risk retailers such as bookstores, pet food stores, and hardware stores are open, as well as hotels and short term rentals with safeguards. Also open are indoor faith-based services at 25% capacity; and office-based businesses when teleworking is not possible, such as realtors and film and television production.

As of March 15, the following businesses are still closed under state and County orders: nightclubs and lounges; bars and craft distilleries; public entertainment venues (live performance, concerts, theme parks and festivals); family entertainment centers with indoor operations (such as indoor bowling alleys, arcades); indoor playgrounds except those at school or childcare centers; public hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas.

Additional information is in the latest City of Los Angeles Public Order update (updated March 16, 2021), LA County Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community Revised Order (updated March 12, 2021), and on the LA County Reopening page (updated March 12, 2021).

The Worker Protection order, put in place on April 7, is also still in effect until further notice for non-medical essential workers, requiring them to wear face coverings such as non-medical masks, scarves or bandanas. See Mask Guidelines below. The order includes workers at grocery stores, warehouse stores, farmers markets, restaurants with to-go food, plumbers, electricians, day laborers, private security, gardeners, dry cleaners, taxis, car rental companies, hotels, motels, organizations that provide social services, and other businesses. In addition, employers must provide these face coverings, allow employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes, and provide 6-foot buffers between employees and customers to the extent possible. More information is in the City of Los Angeles Worker Protection Order (PDF).


What is the status of reopening schools and colleges?

As of March 15, 2021 the state is permitting all public and private schools (grades K - 12) in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to reopen for in-class instruction after meeting safety measures. Additional information is in the latest LA County Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community Revised Order (updated March 12, 2021).

Until all schools are reopened, the remainder of LAUSD students will continue with online instruction. For more information and resources, visit the LAUSD website or call their hotline at 213.443.1300.

As of March 15, 2021 colleges and universities may continue in-person essential operations and indoor academic instruction at 25% occupancy or 100 people, whichever is less, with distance learning continuing to be offered to the extent practicable. Additional information is in the latest LA County Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community Revised Order (updated March 12, 2021).


What can I do to protect myself and my family from the COVID-19 coronavirus?

There are steps that everyone can take daily to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with these types of viruses. Please follow the list of guidelines below. We also have helpful tips on our Covid-19 Video page.

  • Follow the Safer at Home Emergency Order in place for Los Angeles residents. More information is above.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or going to the bathroom. You should also wash your hands before eating.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet distance from others when you go out.
  • As of May 14, all residents are required to wear a cloth face covering your nose and mouth when outside of your home. Young children and people with certain disabilties are exempt. This does NOT mean wearing a surgical mask or N-95 respirator which are critical medical supplies needed by healthcare workers. More information is below. Visit our Video page for a CDC video on how to wear a mask.
  • Limit close contact like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces using regular household disinfectant cleaning spray.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw away the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
  • Help your immune system: Eat nutritional food, get 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night, try to minimize and manage stress, exercise regularly, and stop or cut back on smoking. If you have a health condition, discuss with your doctor an exercise and nutritional plan that is right for you.

You can also take these additional steps:

  • Find a primary doctor if you don't already have one to be prepared, in case you do get sick. Our Find-A-Doctor portal has a list of physicians in our area, or you can use other sources such as referrals from friends and family members.
  • Mayor Garcetti has asked that residents not hoard food as it isn't necessary but you should have essential food, water and supplies to last a few weeks.

What are the guidelines for wearing masks?

Valley Presbyterian Hospital requires all visitors and patients entering the hospital to wear a hospital-issued mask. Visit our Video page for a CDC video on how to wear a mask.

On May 14, 2020 the City of Los Angeles issued an order requiring all residents to wear non-medical face coverings outside of their homes, except for young children at risk for suffocation and people with certain disabilities. This will help stop the spread of the virus as Safer At Home restrictions are gradually eased. Read more on the City of Los Angeles website.

This order is in addition to the Worker Protection Order that requires non-medical essential workers to wear face coverings such as non-medical masks, scarves or bandanas while at work. This does NOT mean wearing a surgical mask or N-95 repirator which are critical medical supplies that are needed by healthcare workers. Customers are required to wear face coverings when going out to grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. More information is in the City of Los Angeles Worker Protection Order (PDF).

Cloth face coverings can be non-medical masks, bandanas or scarves, or made at home from t-shirts or pieces of cloth. Visit our Video page for a CDC video that shows how to make your own mask or visit the CDC website for step-by-step instructions. It is important that you wash your hands before you put your mask on and immediately after you take it off. If it is disposable, throw it away in a plastic lined trash can. If it is washable, it is recommended that you wash it after removing it.


Is social distancing still needed?

Yes. Residents should continue to practice social distancing (staying 6 feet away from people who don't live with you), wash hands frequently, and wear a face covering when leaving your home. See more information above, under "Are the Los Angeles Safer at Home and Worker Protection Orders still in place?"

Additional information is in the latest City of Los Angeles Public Order update (updated March 16, 2021), LA County Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community Revised Order (updated March 12, 2021), and on the LA County Reopening page (updated March 12, 2021).


What is Valley Presbyterian Hospital doing to protect patients and visitors?

We are committed to the safety of our patients, visitors and staff. We have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and have been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as local and state public health agencies. Our teams have put in place screenings at entry points at the hospital including the Emergency Department, and canceled most classes (some will be offered virtual) and events. We have enstated fever screenings for all staff and visitors, as well as new policies for patients and vistors. As of March 20, 2020 we have restricted visitation to our hopsital. A "No Visitor" policy is in effect, with a few exceptions. We require all visitors and patients entering the hospital to wear a hospital-issued mask, and we strongly encourage anyone visiting the hospital to use hand sanitizing dispensers that are located on each floor, and to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth. Please visit our Visiting Hours page for detailed information.

Also, please check our COVID-19 portal page for Valley Presbyterian Hospital information, updates and other resources. You may also call our Hotline at 818.902.3999 for information about COVID-19. Call 911 if you are having a medical emergency.


What should I do if I feel stressed out about COVID-19?

It is normal to feel anxious or show signs of stress even if the outbreak hasn't affected you personally or you are at low risk of getting sick. It is important to care for your own physical and mental health. For tips on how you can cope, visit the Covid-19 Mental Health Resources page from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. You can also call their 24/7 Helpline at 800.854.7771 or call 2-1-1.


Sources on this page include: Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Los Angeles County Department of Health (LACDPH), City of Los Angeles, and World Health Organization (WHO). Visit our COVID-19 Resources page for more information.


Return to COVID-19 portal page