Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Novel Coronavirus - Emergency Preparedness

At the Mount Sinai Health System, we are closely monitoring an outbreak of a viral infection caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, known as COVID-19 (formerly known as novel coronavirus). The outbreak was first recognized in early December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but has spread widely throughout the world, including to the United States.

While this illness has been widely covered in the news media and the number of cases worldwide has grown substantially, the fundamental advice about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself has not changed:

  • If you have not traveled to an area where COVID-19 cases are occurring or been in close contact with such a traveler, and you develop respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, it remains likely that you have a seasonal illness like the flu rather than COVID-19.
  • The steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 are generally the same as those for the flu:
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
    • Avoid close contact with sick people
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including the flu and COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of these diseases to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

If you traveled to an area where COVID-19 is occurring (the CDC maintains a list of affected countries) and you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after returning to the United States, or if you have these symptoms after close contact with someone who recently traveled there, you should call ahead and then go to your personal physician or browse our directory of local physicians and specialists. Calling ahead will let us prepare a special area where we can evaluate you while protecting both you and our other patients. Please do not go to the emergency room unless you are seriously ill.

If you have similar symptoms but have not traveled to an affected area or been in close contact with someone who has, it is likely that you have a seasonal illness like the flu, rather than the coronavirus.

The CDC website remains your best source for up-to-date, detailed information about COVID-19. Mount Sinai Health System experts also offer important facts and scientific insights about the disease.

COVID-19 Infographic

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