COVID-19 FAQs for Providers

Updated 1/13/2022

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2 first discovered in December, 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is very contagious and has quickly spread around the world. COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, a flu, or pneumonia, but COVID-19 can also harm other parts of the body. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate the surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to become infected.

COVID-19 spreads in three main ways:

People are most likely to spread the disease when they have symptoms, but some people may spread the virus before they show symptoms.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

How soon after exposure do symptoms start?

In general, symptoms appear 2 – 14 days after exposure.

How long can a person spread COVID-19?

Someone with COVID-19 may be contagious from two days before they show symptoms until 10 days after symptom onset or 72 hours after symptoms stop, whichever is longer.

What are severe complications from this virus?

In severe cases, infection can cause bronchitis (swelling of the tubes into the lungs), pneumonia (infection in the lungs often with fluid build up), kidney failure, and even death.  People over 60 years old and those with other underlying health conditions are more likely to have severe complications.

If my patient has an underlying medical condition and is at a higher risk from severe disease from COVID-19, what should I tell them?

Additional resources for healthcare providers

When should a patient seek emergency medical attention?

You should seek emergency medical attention if you are experiencing:

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

What recommendations can I give patients to protect themselves and their family?

You can prevent infection by doing the following:

What should healthcare providers (HCP) do outside of work to prevent transmission of COVID-19?

To prevent transmission of COVID-19 outside of work, HCP should follow CDC’s Guidance on Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure. Because of their potential for exposure to COVID-19 at work, some HCP may choose to implement extra measures when arriving home from providing healthcare, such as:

What can I tell my patients about the COVID-19 vaccines?

At this time, there are three vaccines for COVID-19 in the United States:

  1. Comirnaty/Pfizer
    1. Two-dose vaccine given 21 days apart
    2. Fully approved for use in individuals 16 and older, under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use in individuals 12 to 15
  2. Moderna
    1. Two-dose vaccine given 28 days apart
    2. Under EUA for use in individuals 18 and older
  3. Johnson and Johnson (J&)
    1. One-dose vaccine
    2. Under EUA for use in individuals 18 and older

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, visit

Where can my patients find a COVID-19 vaccine clinic near them?

Have them visit or

Is there a treatment?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, Remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 in certain situations. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some people have developed pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.

What do I say if my patients mention ivermectin to treat COVID-19?

The FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans. Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms. Ivermectin is not an anti-viral drug (a drug for treating viruses). Taking large doses of this drug is dangerous and can cause serious harm. There's a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it's okay to take large doses of ivermectin. That is wrong.

How do we test for COVID-19?

A healthcare provider obtains swabs deep in a person’s nose or throat for the test. The provider sends the swabs to a commercial laboratory or the state health department (Kansas Department of Health and Environment). Another option is through saliva testing, where the person being tested spits into a tube for the test.

Antibody and antigen tests are not confirmatory for COVID-19; therefore, the SCHD is not offering these types of tests.

Testing for COVID-19

A laboratory test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is performed by the state health department laboratory in Topeka or through commercial laboratories.  A small swab from a person’s nose or throat or the person’s saliva is used for the test.

People with symptoms who are currently being tested for COVID-19 should remain in home isolation, or hospital isolation if symptoms are severe enough to be hospitalized until test results are available. People without symptoms may continue normal activities while awaiting test results.

For COVID-19 testing through the Sedgwick County Health Department and a list of other testing clinics around Sedgwick County, click here.

Who should be tested?

After infection with a virus, the level of virus in a person’s body increases over time and then decreases when your immune system fights it off. The COVID-19 test will be positive if the amount of virus in your body is high enough to be detected by the test.

A negative COVID-19 test could mean that you do not have the virus OR it could mean that you don’t have enough virus in your body for it to be detectable.

Knowing your risk of exposure and your symptoms on the day of testing are important for the lab to properly interpret your results.

What happens if a healthcare worker tests positive for COVID-19?

The Health Department will help identify your close contacts, who will be referred to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for follow-up. This only occurs if you give permission. Close contacts should complete the modified in-home quarantine as described below or as recommended by KDHE.

What quarantine and isolation guidance should a healthcare worker follow?

Please follow the most updated guidance located, here

How long do test results typically take?

Results are generally available by the afternoon of the next weekday (see table below). These testes are not antibody tests, but show if you have a current infection.

Clients Sampled On:

Test Results Available Online Afternoon Of:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Next weekday (excluding County holidays)

Friday by 1 p.m.


Friday after 1 p.m., Saturday, Sunday


What is a close contact?

You are considered a “close contact” if any of the following situations happened while you were with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 – even if they did not have symptoms:

Modified Disease Investigation

When can a person who tests positive resume normal activities?

The person can return to normal activities 10 days after symptoms started or 72 hours symptom free, whichever is longer.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements for Healthcare Providers Collecting Specimen Swabs from a Patient Suspected of Having COVID-19

What testing and standards should I consider when looking for CDC-recommended protective clothing?

What methods should healthcare facilities consider in order to avoid unintentional loss of PPE during COVID-19?

Educating staff on proper use of PPE and monitoring PPE supply inventory and maintaining control over PPE supplies may help prevent unintentional product losses that may occur due to theft, damage, or accidental loss.


What type of gown is recommended for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

What type of gowns are available for healthcare personnel to protect from COVID-19?

Gowns are available that protect against microorganisms. The choice of gown should be made based on the level of risk of contamination. Certain areas of surgical and isolation gowns are defined as “critical zones” where direct contact with blood, body fluids, and/or other potentially infectious materials is most likely to occur.

What is the difference between gowns and coveralls?

How do I put on (don) and take off (doff) my gown?

Is it acceptable for emergency medical services to wear coveralls as an alternative to gowns when COVID-19 is suspected in a patient needing emergency transport?


What type of glove is recommended to care for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

What standards should be considered when choosing gloves?

Is double gloving necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

Are extended length gloves necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

How I do put on (don) and take off (doff) my gloves?

Eye Protection


Should I wear a respirator, such as an N95 respirator, in public?

What is a respirator?

What is an N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR)?

What are the two main types of masks for medical use?

There are two main types of masks for medical use – N95 or “facemasks” (also called surgical or earloop masks).

What is an N95 respirator?

N95 respirators are used by healthcare employees who have exposures to respiratory pathogens.

What is a facemask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or earloop mask)?

What is a Surgical N95 respirator and who needs to wear it?

My employees complain that Surgical N95 respirators are hot and uncomfortable – what can I do?

My N95 respirator has an exhalation valve, is that okay?

An N95 respirator with an exhalation valve does provide the same level of protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve.

How can I tell if a respirator is NIOSH-approved?

The NIOSH approval number and approval label are key to identifying NIOSH-approved respirators.

How do I know if my respirator is expired?

NIOSH does not require approved N95 filtering face piece respirators (FFRs) be marked with an expiration date.

What do I do with an expired respirator?

In times of increased demand and decreased supply, consideration can be made to use N95 respirators past their intended shelf life.

Where can I find answers to other questions that aren’t included here?

Please visit the CDC’s Clinical Questions about COVID-19: Questions and Answers page for other questions and answers you may have.

Special Considerations for Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers

Contact the Kansas Opioid Treatment Authority with questions specific to opioid treatment programs:

Check the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) website for guidance specific to Kansas. 

Check the CDC and SAMHSA websites frequently to find new guidance and trainings.

Sedgwick County Drug Misuse Information website with local data and treatment resources.

Online Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration