Austin Regional Clinic

COVID-19 ALERT
24/7 COVID-19 Hotline 866-453-4525 | All doctors and specialties available | Click here for patient safety info
Austin Regional Clinic

Austin Regional Clinic

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

Last Updated 4/2/2020

Austin Regional Clinic remains updated about COVID-19 and will continue to add new information to this page as it becomes available. We recommend preparedness and prevention and are practicing that advice in our clinics and with our physicians, clinicians, and staff.

The ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline is open 24/7 at 866-453-4525. The hotline provides advice on self-care and treatment recommendations.

Remember ARC offers 24/7 connected care with Same-Day appointments in the day time, night time, weekends, and holidays as well as 24/7 phone nurses. Request a Same-Day visit at ARCappointments.com or call your clinic and press "1" for an appointment.

Read the latest COVID-19 updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Patient safety

    • How does ARC separate patients exhibiting respiratory symptoms from others?

      ARC greeters screen all patients for symptoms of potential viral illness before entering the clinic. This protocol applies to all visits at all clinics, both primary care and specialty care.

      • For patients with symptoms, the greeter checks them in from outside the clinic and asks them to wait in their car. An ARC staff member meets them at the door when their exam room is ready and escorts them directly to the exam room.
      • Patients without symptoms check in at the front desk like usual.
    • Can I bring a visitor with me to my visit?

      Due to the spread of COVID-19, ARC discourages visitors. Patients may be accompanied by one healthy adult per patient, if help is needed for the visit. ARC greeters screen all visitors before entering the clinic and visitors with symptoms of any viral illness will be required to wait outside of the clinic.

    • How does ARC protect patients from getting coronavirus from staff?

      ARC follows CDC and City of Austin guidelines taking the following precautions.

      • Physicians, clinicians, and staff self monitor for symptoms and fever every morning before arriving to work and every afternoon at work.
      • Anyone with a temperature or other suspicion of COVID-19 gets tested for COVID-19 and goes home to self-isolate.
      • If they test negative for COVID-19, they stay home in self-isolation until the fever is gone at least 24-48 hours AND symptoms improve.
      • If they test positive for COVID-19, they stay home in self-isolation until their fever is gone for 72 hours AND it has been at least 7 days since symptom onset AND symptoms improve.
      • If they do not have symptoms but had direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, they self monitor for symptoms or fever at which time they are tested for COVID-19.

Social distancing

    • How important is it to practice social distancing now?

      Social distancing minimizes the spread of the virus. When we stay away from many people we deprive the virus the opportunity to move from one person to another. What does that mean in everyday actions?

      • Stay at home as much as possible.
      • Avoid gathering in public places.
      • Get your exercise outside rather than in a space with groups of people.
      • Take advantage of grocery delivery and pick-up services or shop when it is less crowded. Keep 6 -10 feet away from other people.
      • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.

      Social distancing feels awkward and unnatural. We are social beings who need human interaction, so this call to distance ourselves from each other will be difficult. It has proved successful in places like Hong Kong and Singapore where they were able to flatten out the curve, unlike in Italy where it has overwhelmed their healthcare resources. The best we can do is learn from others' success.

      Read more about how to protect yourself.


Risk factors

    • Am I at risk for COVID-19 in Central Texas?

      There is now community spread of COVID-19 in Central Texas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the City of Austin are working closely with CDC in monitoring the developing outbreak.

      Read more about the risk of COVID-19 in the Austin area

      Read more about the risk of COVID-19 in Texas

      View the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking map

    • How easily does COVID-19 spread?

      The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread") in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

      Read more about how COVID-19 spreads.

    • How can I tell if information online is true?

      There is a lot of information online about coronavirus that is untrue or misleading. In addition, fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits. Please be cautious of unsolicited requests for any ID or credit card information. A good resource to determine if something you red online is true is www.snopes.com. If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, contact National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline (866) 720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov.

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes. Read more.

    • Are children at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality from COVID-19 infection compared with adults?

      Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon. However, as with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions.

      Read more about COVID-19 and children.

    • Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection, or at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality with COVID-19, compared with the general public?

      The CDC does not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

      Read more about COVID-19 and pregnant women.

    • Is breastfeeding safe when a mother has an infectious illness?

      Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. The CDC recommends a mother with sypmtoms or with confirmed COVID-19 should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast.  If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

      Read more about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.


Common symptoms

    • What is COVID-19?

      COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

      Read more about COVID-19.

    • What are the symptoms?

      Most people, especially children and those under 60 with no chronic medical conditions, who contract COVID-19 develop very mild symptoms that include fever, a dry cough, and fatigue, few will develop more advanced symptoms such as shortness of breath.

      covid19 symptoms

      The World Health Organization (WHO) found that nasal congestion occurs in only 4.8% of patients. Some people, usually with additional medical complications, can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.

      If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.

      Read more about COVID-19 symptoms.

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

       


Diagnosing & testing

    • Is there a number I can call with questions?

      The ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline is open 24/7 at 866-453-4525. The hotline provides advice on self-care and treatment recommendations.

      You always have the option of scheduling an appointment with us if needed or you can speak with a nurse if you have questions.

    • Can anybody get tested for COVID-19?

      Due to supply shortages, not everyone can get tested. ARC doctors determine who should be tested based on current CDC guidelines and the patient level of risk. We are more likely to test high-risk patients with fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.

      If you are not at high risk we will advise you on treating your symptoms. Thank you for helping us conserve our supplies for the patients most at risk.

      Read more about COVID-19 testing

    • Where do you offer drive-up testing?

      ARC conducts COVID-19 drive-up testing at the locations listed below.

      Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am - 5 pm.
      ARC Far West Hours: Monday–Friday 8am - 9pm, and Saturday & Sunday 8am - 5pm.

      Drive-up testing locations:

    • How does drive-up testing work?

      Patients with a lab order from an ARC physician will be asked to visit the nearest ARC drive-thru testing site. An ARC clinician will screen each patient at the drive-up testing site to ensure they are not experiencing breathing difficulties. For those who do not require immediate medical attention, a nasal swab will be obtained and sent to the lab for COVID-19 testing.

    • Can I get tested without an order from a doctor?

      If someone drives up without first having an initial physician evaluation, we will offer to schedule them for the next available telemedicine appointment so a physician can determine whether a test is indicated. That consultation may occur in the same parking lot, without much waiting time, via ARC’s telemedicine service. If patients meet the testing criteria, they will be instructed to return to the drive-up testing tent.

    • How much does the test cost?

      Currently, state labs are not charging patients for this test and most insurance companies have agreed to cover costs for tests at commercial labs. For patients without insurance, the cost of the test as commercial labs is about $70, but that should always be confirmed with the lab as prices can vary.

    • How long does it take to get the results?

      Currently it takes 2-10 days to receive results from any of the labs.

    • Will I see my results in ARC MyChart?

      Yes, after your ARC care team calls you with your results, you will be able to see it in ARC MyChart.

    • Can I be tested for immunity if I had COVID-19 like symptoms (fever and cough) several weeks ago?

      No, there is no test at this time that can inform us if the virus that causes COVID-19 was already in your system. Currently available testing only confirms active infection

    • Can I do a telemedicine visit with my ARC doctor?

      Most ARC primary and specialty care doctors offer telemedicine visits if appropriate. A telemedicine visit may be carried out by video or phone call. You can request a telemedicine visit at the time you book your appointment. In some cases, if an in-person office visit is booked, your doctor may decide to see you via telemedicine. If that happens your healthcare team will contact you in advance. Many of our patients appreciate being able to take care of their medication refills, COVID-19 evaluations, and even well-checks without leaving their homes.

    • What if I test negative for COVID-19 and still have symptoms?

      If your COVID-19 test result is negative but you have symptoms related to the illness, you may still have the virus in your system and should continue to protect yourself and minimize spread.

      Please remain in home quarantine no less than 7 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications at least three days (72 hours) AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath. Practice heightened home hygiene to avoid spread in your household.

      Treat your symptoms with over the counter medications and call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have emergency warning signs such as persistent and worsening shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or confusion. Our nurses and doctors can determine if we can care for you in our clinic or if you need to go to the ER.


When to seek medical care

    • When should I call my doctor?

      You should seek medical advice if you have symptoms of fever, a dry cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath, especially if you are over 60 or have underlying health conditions. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion or inability to arouse
      • Bluish lips or face

      Call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.

    • Do I need to go to the ER?

      You should call 9-1-1 or go to the ER only if you experience emergency warning signs. Emergency warning signs include:

      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion or inability to arouse
      • Bluish lips or face

      We recommend you call your primary doctor at the first sign of symptoms. This will help limit the spread of the virus in our community. It will also allow emergency departments to care for patients with the most critical needs first.

      Call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.


Treatment

    • Are there any treatments available for children and adults with COVID-19?

      There are currently no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19. Antibiotics are not effective to treat COVID-19 since it is caused by a virus and antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. Research is currently ongoing for both anti-viral medications and development of a vaccine.

    • How should I take care of myself or family members if I suspect COVID-19 or test positive?

      If you display any signs of COVID-19, the best course of treatment in the majority of cases is to stay at home and treat your symptoms with over the counter medications. Here is what our ARC doctors recommend:

      • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache, body aches, fever, and pain.
      • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your fever get better as your body is working to fight the virus.
      • Get plenty of rest.
      • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids including broth, tea, or another warm beverage.
      • Use cough drops or an over the counter cough suppressant as needed. (Ask the pharmacist what over-the-counter cough medicine is best for your cough. There any many options and your pharmacist can give you good advice).
      • Honey has been shown to help decrease coughing at night. The adult dose is 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
      • Avoid smoking to protect your lungs from infection.
      • The CDC recommends continuing self-isolation until fever is resolved for 72 hours AND symptoms improve AND it has been at least 7 days since symptom onset.

      Read more about what to do if you get sick

    • What is the ordinance for people who are sick with coronavirus disease?

      If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, the shelter-in-place ordinance requires you to remain in home quarantine no less than 7 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications at least three days (72 hours) AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath. While sick, you must practice social distancing within the residence and observe hygiene practices for prevention of household spread, notifying the county health department if that is not possible. You must also notify your county’s public health authority if you leave your county.

      Read the full guidelines.


Prevention

    • How can I protect myself and my family?

      The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventive measures are effective; the same ones that prevent the spread of colds and the flu:

      • Stay home if you are sick and self-isolate until fever is resolved for 72 hours AND symptoms improve AND it has been at least 7 days since symptom onset.
      • Avoid contact with those over 60 and with anyone who has any serious chronic medical conditions.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a waste basket and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
      • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
      • Practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds.
      • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.
      • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and anyone else.
      • Avoid non-essential travel.

      Read more about how to protect yourself

    • How can I talk to my kids about Coronavirus?

      Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, Co-Chief of ARC Pediatrics, suggests that before starting the conversation, parents should first check their own anxiety level. If you are anxious about this conversation, perhaps the other parent or a grandparent or another adult should be the one to have the conversation. Start by asking kids of any age about what they already know. Listen to what they say and correct any misinformation. Start with a question like, “Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness going around?”

      Read the full article here

    • What can I do to reduce stress and anxiety?

      A few things to reduce stress and anxiety include:

      • Give yourself a break from screens: watching the news, social media, your smart phone.
      • Take deep breaths, eat healthy, outdoor exercise, and get plenty of rest.
      • Do activities you enjoy (keeping in mind the social distancing measures above).
      • Connect with friends and family online or by phone, or in person if everyone is feeling healthy and symptom-free.
    • Is it safe to attend local events?

      No, due to community spread, all local events have canceled until further notice. 


Shelter-in-place

        • What is a shelter-in-place?

          A shelter-in-place instructs us to stay home during the time of an emergency. People are permitted to leave their home for essential activities, which include tasks related to health and safety, grocery shopping and outdoor activities that comply with proper social distancing practices.

        • Is ARC still open during stay home work safe?

          All Austin Regional Clinic locations remain OPEN and available for established and new patients. We will not cancel any already scheduled appointments and we are scheduling new appointments for primary care and specialties too. We continue to use COVID-19 patient safety protocols in all of our clinics, asking any patients with symptoms to wait in their cars until we are ready to see them.

 

 

Resources


Posters/Flyers
Print for display to help keep everyone informed and safe.
How to Greet without Exposure
If You're Coughing Wear a Mask
Stop the Spread of Germs
Wash Your Hands
What To Do If You Are Sick With COVID-19

 

Austin Public Health
Travis County COVID-19 Summary: Visit the Austin Public Health page

View the Travis County COVID-19 Dashboard

 

Williamson County Public Health
Williamson County COVID-19 Summary: Visit the Williamson County Public Health page

View the Williamson County COVID-19 Dashboard

 

CDC COVID-19 FAQs
More COVID-19 questions? Visit the CDC FAQ page

6 Steps to Prevent COVID-19 (ASL Version)

 

CDC Updates
CDC News Releases and Health Alert Network (HAN)

Texas Department of State Health Services
Got COVID-19 questions? Email or call the DSHS COVID 19 call center: (877) 570-9779 (Hours: 7am - 6pm Monday - Friday)

Global Cases
COVID-19 Global Cases by John Hopkins CSSE