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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated: October 14, 2021

Some of the information below is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

How do patients get tested for COVID-19 at Phelps Health?

Patients who are seeking treatment based on a recommendation or referral by their provider or patients who are self-seeking treatment based on signs and symptoms can be assessed by a provider at several convenient Phelps Health clinics. The provider will perform an overall health assessment and ask the patient a series of questions concerning respiratory-type illnesses.

Individuals seeking COVID-19 testing can be seen at the following convenient locations (no appointment necessary):

When patients arrive at these above locations, they will park in designated spots, call the clinic and follow the instructions given to them.

In addition, people seeking COVID-19 testing need to call ahead and schedule an appointment to be seen at one of the following convenient locations:

Same-day appointments for COVID-19 tests will be available at these clinics. When patients call to schedule their appointments, they will be given instructions to follow.

Patients being tested at these locations will be billed by the Phelps Health Medical Group as a clinic visit. Laboratory services will continue to be billed by Phelps Health.

When these clinics are closed, patients should go to the Emergency Department to be seen.

Please note the above locations mentioned are for COVID-19 testing, not vaccinations.

How much does a COVID-19 test cost?

On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires all COVID-19 testing and related services to be completely covered by government insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. In addition, visits to doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, emergency rooms as well as Telehealth visits must be covered by insurance companies as long these visits relate to providing or administering a COVID-19 test or determining the need for such a test.

What happens if a patient received testing for COVID-19 at Phelps Health?

Patients should call their primary care provider if they have not received a follow-up call or MyChart message with their test results within five to seven days. Patients who have been tested should remain in self-isolation until the test results are available.

If a patient tests positive, they should remain in self-isolation for at least 10 days (or longer if they continue to have a fever) from when their symptoms first appeared. Local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long isolation should last in the communities they serve, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department or healthcare provider if you need to isolate.

If a patient’s symptoms worsen (such as developing shortness of breath, chest pain or confusion), they should call ahead to their local emergency department to let staff know they are coming to the emergency department. A patient also can call 911 in an emergency. When calling 911, patients should notify the dispatcher they have COVID-19, so the EMS crew can wear appropriate protection.

Patients should remain isolated from others in their home, cover any coughs/sneezes, not share common household items (such as cups and silverware) and frequently wash hands.

How can I or someone I know get tested for a current infection (viral test) for COVID-19?

Viral tests check specimens from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take if you are sick.

-- Most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or if you have questions about your health.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. This does not mean you will not get sick.

-- A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was collected too early in your infection.

-- You also could be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and then get infected and spread the virus to others.

-- If you have symptoms later, you may need another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

What is antibody testing?

Antibody tests (or serology tests) look for antibodies in your blood to determine if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins created by your body’s immune system soon after you have been infected or vaccinated. Antibodies help you fight off infections and can protect you from getting that disease again. How long this protection may last is different for each disease and each person.

Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. An antibody test may not show if you have a current infection because it can take one to three weeks after the infection for your body to make antibodies.

Whether you test positive or negative for COVID-19 on a viral or an antibody test, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others.

The CDC does not know how much protection (immunity) antibodies to the virus might provide against getting infected again. Confirmed and suspected cases of reinfection have been reported, but remain rare.

On May 26, 2020, Phelps Health began offering serology antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to the community. Read more about antibody testing.

What happens if a patient is suspected of having COVID-19?

Patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 should remain in self-quarantine for at least 14 days (or longer if they continue to have a fever). Local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last in the communities they serve, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine.

If a patient’s symptoms worsen (such as developing shortness of breath, chest pain or confusion) they should call ahead to their local emergency department to let staff know they are coming to the emergency department. A patient also can call 911 in an emergency. When calling 911, patients should notify the dispatcher they have COVID-19, so the EMS crew can wear appropriate protection.

Patients should remain isolated from others in their home, cover any coughs/sneezes, not share common household items (such as cups and silverware) and frequently wash hands.

For how long do I need to quarantine?

On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued “Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing.”

The revised CDC guidance states, “Local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions. CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days. However, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.” The CDC did not change quarantine guidance but instead offered additional options for local public health authorities to implement, if appropriate in the local area. Much time and consideration were spent collaborating with local and regional partners to determine the best course of action for quarantine guidelines moving forward.

The Phelps/Maries County Health Department recognizes the incredible burden that quarantine requirements place on individuals, families and businesses. We also must recognize that the CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine period as the best option to control disease transmission and acknowledges that shortening quarantine periods to less than 14 days will result in a small but non-zero (.1-10.6%) increase in post-quarantine disease transmission.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may develop 14 days after the last known exposure, and in some instances after day 14. During the course of the pandemic, our jurisdiction has seen a portion of individuals become symptomatic and test positive for COVID-19 on day 14 of their quarantine period. Any shortened deviation from the 14-day quarantine will result in individuals becoming positive for COVID-19 following release from quarantine.It is crucial that strict mitigation strategies are adhered to through day 14.

Taking all aspects of the pandemic into consideration, the Phelps/Maries County Health Department will be revising our quarantine guidelines to reflect the shortened 10-day quarantine option available from the CDC. Understand that the alternative guidelines are not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there will be instances where a 14-day quarantine period will still be required. For instance, household contacts to known positive cases that cannot isolate separately have an increased likelihood of developing COVID-19 due to extended exposure to the virus. Those individuals may require the full 14-day quarantine period from date of last exposure.

Effective immediately, the Phelps/Maries County Health Department will implement the following options for quarantine:

1. Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been experienced during any daily monitoring.

a. Persons can discontinue quarantine after Day 10 only if the following criteria are also met:

i. No signs or symptoms of COVID-19 during the entirety of the quarantine period;

ii. Continue to monitor for symptoms through day 14. If symptoms develop, immediately get tested and self-isolate until you know your results;

iii. Avoid contact with anyone at high risk for COVID-19 for the full 14-day quarantine period;

iv. Persons must strictly follow all infection prevention guidelines through Day 14 including: social distancing – maintain at least 6 feet of separation between yourself and others outside of your household; use good hand and respiratory hygiene practices; avoid large crowds; and wear a mask when in public when social distancing is difficult to maintain at all times; and

v. If any of these criteria cannot be met, the individual must quarantine for the full 14 days.

2. Persons can continue to be quarantined for 14 days without testing per existing recommendations.

a. The recommended quarantine timeframe of the CDC, DHSS and local health departments to reduce the risk of post-quarantine transmission.

b. Strongly advise individuals who are able to quarantine for the full 14 days to continue to do so.

The Phelps/Maries County Health Department will NOT implement the alternative option allowing quarantine to end after day 7 with a negative test results at this time:

1. The requirements set forth by the CDC for allowing quarantine to end after Day 7 are not able to be met at this time;

2. Testing resources locally and regionally are not stable with testing sites receiving sporadic shipments of testing materials and sometimes no shipments at all;

3. Not all testing sites have the staff availability or resources available to test both symptomatic individuals and those seeking early release from quarantine as required by bullet point 3 of the CDC guidance;

4. Test result turnaround times remain inconsistent; and

5. Not all test results are received by state or local health departments making it impossible for health departments to meet the requirement to track negative test results at Day 7.

We will continue to monitor the situation to determine if the requirements can be consistently met to allow quarantine to end after day 7 with a negative result.

What should I do if I have an upcoming appointment at Phelps Health?

In order to ensure your safety, and the safety of other patients and staff at Phelps Health, we have implemented precautions to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. We are working to create a safe environment for patients who need to seek care at our hospital and clinics. We continue to thoroughly clean and disinfect all of our facilities on a regular basis, so you can feel comfortable you are in a safe and clean environment when receiving care at Phelps Health.

When you arrive at Phelps Health for your appointment, be prepared to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Please review our visitor policy prior to arriving at Phelps Health.
  • Upon arrival to a clinic or outpatient setting, patients will see signage directing them to wear a mask, practice hand hygiene and proceed to their destination.
  • Universal masking is required, so be sure to bring a mask to wear when coming to and during your appointment. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines when moving throughout Phelps Health Hospital or clinics.

If you have questions about your upcoming appointment(s) at Phelps Health, please call your healthcare provider ahead of time. 

You also can see your Phelps Health doctor or provider virtually through Telehealth visits, which are a safe, secure and confidential way for you to visit remotely with your provider from your smartphone with audio and video capabilities. A majority of our clinics and providers’ offices offer this service. To learn more about Telehealth visits, please call your provider’s office. 

Do Not Delay Emergency Care

If you have an emergency, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department. The Phelps Health Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Does Phelps Health have any visitor restrictions?

Read the current visitor guidelines at Phelps Health.

Please note: As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Phelps Health may change visitor restrictions. Please check our social media pages and website for the latest on Phelps Health’s response to COVID-19. 

What restrictions has the state of Missouri imposed regarding the spread of COVID-19?

On June 16, 2020, Missouri fully reopened and entered Phase 2 of its “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan. During Phase 2, there is no statewide health order. All statewide restrictions have been lifted, though local officials will still have the authority to put further rules, regulations or ordinances in place.

Does Phelps County have a mask mandate?

There is currently no COVID-19 related order in effect in Phelps County at this time. On February 2, 2021, the Phelps County Commission let the face covering order for Phelps County expire. The order had since been in effect since November 30, 2020. Private businesses and public institutions still have the right to impose COVID-19 protocols and practices to ensure the safety of their employees, patrons, customers and students.

Does the City of Rolla have a mask mandate?

On February 1, 2021, the Rolla City Council did not extend its COVID-19 ordinance, which effectively lifted the municipal requirement to wear masks or face coverings in public places and the 25% occupancy limit on enhanced risk activities. The measure had been in effect since November 27, 2020. You can read a City of Rolla press release about letting the ordinance expire. You also can read more about the decision from the Phelps County Focus. Private businesses and public institutions still have the right to impose COVID-19 protocols and practices to ensure the safety of their employees, patrons, customers and students.

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