Frequently Asked Questions
Answers To Your Common Questions About COVID-19
Click on the questions for detailed answers on coronavirus and COVID-19. If the information you need is not on found on this page, call our hotline at 866-941-4785 for assistance.
Should I wear a facemask?
With the new Delta variant surge of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings – even if you are fully vaccinated – where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear cloth face coverings in public settings and practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people).
Cloth face coverings should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Homemade cloth face coverings should be routinely washed in washing machine with warm or hot water and regular detergent.
Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your face covering and wash your hands immediately after removing.
For more information on the proper use and maintenance of cloth face coverings, visit the CDC website.
What is the difference between flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms?
Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, COVID-19 can also lead to the following. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately:
- New loss of taste or smell
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Please call the COVID Resource Center at 866-941-4785 if you have questions.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Coronavirus causes COVID-19, a flu-like illness whose symptoms include:
- Fever of 100.4° or greater
- New loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills (rigors)
- Sore throat
- Muscle & body aches
- New onset fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
If you have difficulty breathing, please call 9-1-1 or call your local emergency department.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and were recently exposed to COVID-19, click here.
How is COVID-19 spread?
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet for at least 15 minutes).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing).
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. They also can land on surfaces and live for several hours, so please wash your hands before touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
Studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (are “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (are “pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
The new Delta variant has seen significant spreading among people ages 20-59, as well as among teenagers and young children. Elderly people, individuals with compromised immune systems, patients with heart disease or liver disease, and patients receiving immuno-suppressant therapies are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and developing more serious medical complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Is it OK to travel?
The CDC strongly recommends that you delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s recommendations for unvaccinated people, which include:
- Getting tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- Avoiding crowds as much as possible and staying at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you.
After you travel:
- Getting tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
- Avoiding being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
- Self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Following all state and local recommendations or requirements.
Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, you test positive for COVID-19, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test. Learn when it is safe for you to travel. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.
International travels must keep in mind that there is widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide. If you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days, stay home and monitor your health.
If you are planning on traveling inside or outside the US, we recommend you pay attention to CDC and US State Department travel advisories.
What can I do to avoid contracting COVID-19?
The best way to prevent illness is to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene so you can avoid being exposed to COVID-19.
WEAR A MASK
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks or cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Practice social distancing as a way to limit your contact with other people. Social distancing means remaining out of large crowds, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others when possible.
Good hand hygiene
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
Other important ways you can prevent illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid covering your coughs and sneezes with your hands. Instead, cover them with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands, or cough or sneeze into your upper arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
What should I do if I think I have contracted Coronavirus?
BEFORE you go to your doctor, isolate yourself:
- Remain calm.
- If your symptoms are considered mild, staying at home is the safest option.
- CALL YOUR DOCTOR FIRST to discuss your symptoms. If you need to go in, they will be prepared for you.
- If you don’t have a doctor, please call one of these numbers to be referred to a physician
- 844-837-2433 for the metro-Memphis area, West Tennessee and North Mississippi
- 855-733-8863 for the for the Jackson, Mississippi, area.
- 870-936-8000 for the Jonesboro, Arkansas, area.
- If you prefer, a minor med or urgent care center could possibly have more timely openings. Please call ahead so they will be prepared for you.
- If your symptoms are severe, call 911, or call your nearest emergency department before going there.
You may also want to have an on-demand video visit or e-visit instead of an office visit. If you have a MyChart account, you don’t have to leave your home to be examined by a health care professional and get a prescription. On-demand video visits and e-visits are great options if you don’t feel well enough to get to your doctor’s office, don’t want to risk exposure to other sick patients, or are concerned about being exposed to sick patients.
While there is no up-front cost for E-Visit or Video Visit, your session will be filed with your insurance and you may be responsible for any balance due.
What can I do to prepare for quarantine?
- Check your prescription drugs to ensure you have a continuous supply in your home.
- Have non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins.
- Check your electronic health records, like your MyChart account, and store a printed version for personal reference.
- Check in with your friends and family members regularly.
- Prepare a household plan
If you develop COVID-19 and are quarantined, you will need a two-week supply of food and possibly water.
Who is most at risk of developing serious illness due to COVID-19?
For most individuals who contract COVID-19, the symptoms will be mild and moderate. Symptoms can be more pronounced and become severe for people who are age 60 or older, have a compromised immune system, and patients of any age with an underlying health issue such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease. The new Delta variant, however, has seen a significant increase in infections among people ages 20-59, teens and children.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Baptist, in accordance with the CDC, strongly recommends that all eligible individuals receive one of the FDA-approved vaccines as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever.
COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment are available for eligible individuals at many Baptist locations and community sites throughout West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas, and North and Central Mississippi. Schedule your vaccination appointment at the facility nearest you.
Visit our vaccine information page and vaccine FAQs for more information.
I have recovered from COVID-19. How can I donate my plasma?
Plasma donated by COVID-19 survivors has been used to treat patients currently sick with this virus. Have you been recently exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19? There are a few things to know before donating your plasma and whether you are eligible to do so.
Donors must meet the following criteria:
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Must provide documented confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test result.
- Must be asymptomatic, or free of flu-like symptoms, for 14 days prior to donation.
Interested individuals meeting these criteria must undergo a swab test and blood test to see if they have developed the appropriate antibodies. If these screens indicate you are a potential donor, you will be sent to a local blood donation center for further screening and plasma collection.
Antibodies are usually present in recovered individuals up to 18 months after contracting COVID-19.
If you are interested in donating plasma, please call Baptist’s Coronavirus Resource Center hotline at 866-941-4785.
Are younger people less likely to become ill by the coronavirus?
When it comes to COVID-19, age does not matter. This is especially true with the Delta variant, which has seen a significant increase in infections among people aged 20-59, teens and young children. While older people and individuals with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, young adults and children are also very susceptible as they more inclined to ignore social distancing criteria and engage in riskier behavior. Everyone, regardless of age, should adhere to safety and health recommendations and orders from state and local officials and the CDC – and practice social distancing and good hand hygiene – to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and lessen the possibility of becoming infected themselves.
Can coronavirus or COVID-19 be spread through food?
Coronaviruses is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food, however it is possible for the packaging the food comes in to be contaminated.
When you get home from the store, be sure to clean cans and jars with a disinfecting wipe before storing or opening them, remove bagged contents from cardboard boxes (breakfast cereals, snacks, pasta, etc.) and throw away the boxes, wash and dry produce thoroughly, and use a disinfecting wipe on juice bottles, milk jugs and other plastic containers.
Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Clean your countertops and cabinets regularly. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
How can I support Baptist patients and employees?
You can support our health care workers and patients by following the recommendations of the CDC and local and state health departments to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible if you haven’t already.
- Wear a mask when you are in a public setting or around people who are not part of your household
- Listen to and follow the directions of state and local governments.
- If you feel sick, stay at home.
- If someone in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire family at home.
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.
- If you have a serious underlying health condition, stay home and away from people.
- Work or engage in schooling from home, if possible.
- Avoid social gatherings.
- Use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options for dining.
- Limit nonessential travel, shopping trips and social visits.
- Do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
- And remember to practice good hygiene:
- Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
If you or your group wish to contribute homemade masks, personal protective equipment or food for our health care workers, please fill out our In-Kind Donation form or call the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation at 901-227-7123. A representative from the Foundation will contact you soon.
We are so very grateful for the many offers of support by those in our community who want to stand up and be counted. Our dedicated doctors, nurses, caregivers and technicians have been working tirelessly, and the outpouring of support from our community has been inspirational for them.
Thank you for your generosity.
How can I, my church, or my community group donate masks that we’ve made to your hospital?
If you would like to support Baptist with an in-kind donation, such as homemade facemasks, personal protective equipment, or food for our health care workers, please fill out our In-Kind Donation form or call the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation at 901-227-7123. A representative from the Foundation will contact you soon. Thank you.
What is monoclonal antibody therapy?
Monoclonal antibody therapy, also called monoclonal antibody infusion treatment, is used to treat COVID-19 in individuals who have tested positive for the virus and are at high risk for developing severe illness. Monoclonal antibodies are human-made antibodies that are given to patients directly through an infusion. Patients eligible for this treatment are
- 65 years of age or older
- 55 years or older with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic respiratory disease, etc.
- 12 years of age of older with pre-existing conditions such as obesity (BMI >35), Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, a weakened immune system, or is currently receiving immunosuppressing treatment.
Does Baptist offer monoclonal antibody therapy?
Yes. Baptist was the first health care system in the region to offer monoclonal antibody infusion treatment to qualified COVID-19 patients. If you have symptoms of COVID and are interested in receiving this treatment, get tested as soon as possible and call our Coronavirus Resource Center phone line at 866-941-4785 for more information.
How can I get the new COVID-19 pill?
The FDA has approved two new oral antiviral medications for Emergency Use Authorization which will be made available to the public in January 2022 through local pharmacies and select Baptist locations. These medications will require a prescription from a provider and should be used as soon as possible after a positive test and the onset of symptoms. As supply becomes available in pharmacies, it will be limited initially for high-risk individuals, including those ages 65 and older and the immunocompromised.
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Although the COVID-19 vaccines continue to reduce the transmission of the virus and hospitalizations dramatically, many people still have concerns about their safety. Here are some answers to the most asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines:
Is the vaccine safe since it was created so quickly?
Yes. Despite the accelerated process by which they were created and mass produced, all the FDA authorized vaccines underwent exhaustive clinical trials, monitoring and reporting to ensure their safety and effectiveness. While the vaccines were manufactured rapidly to create an ample supply, the testing phases of the vaccines were not shortened or streamlined. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized these vaccines for emergency use for the general public.
How was this vaccine developed so quickly?
Scientists were able to develop effective COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a number of factors unique to the COVID-19 pandemic and modern technology:
A massive rise in cases – Most vaccines have to wait for widespread infection to conduct larger trials. The fast, broad transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic created huge numbers of new cases all around the world. As a result, it took less time to identify enough trial participants to contract COVID-19, so researchers needed less time to determine how well the vaccines work.
Use of technology – Most vaccines require growing the virus in eggs or cell cultures in a lab, which can take a long time. The messenger RNA technology, used to create two of the first vaccines, requires manufacturing short copies of the virus’s genetic sequencing in a lab. These man-made strands contain the mechanism that prompts our immune systems to create the necessary antibodies to fight the COVID infection.
Huge financial investment – Most vaccines develop slowly due to a lack of adequate funding for research. Historically, it takes months or years for researchers to secure the necessary financing. However, the urgency created by the global pandemic resulted in massive worldwide financial investment, allowing researchers to mobilize trials quickly, move into each research phase quickly, and begin manufacturing early.
Federal involvement – The first two vaccines were released through the use of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). EUAs were developed by the FDA in 1930 and have become more relevant after 9/11 because of the increased risk of a bioterrorism threat. The main purpose of an EUA is to facilitate the availability and use of medications needed during public health emergencies like a global pandemic.
Should I be concerned about the potential side effects?
As the table below shows, the side effects of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are similar to the routine, expected reactions to other commonly used vaccines. Severe reactions to these two vaccines have been seen in less than 1% of all recipients after the first dose, and less than 2% of all recipients after the second dose.
There were reports of a small number of women who developed a rare type of blood clot after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and use of that vaccine was discontinued until those cases could be studied. After studying these cases, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the chance of developing blood clots following vaccination is extremely low and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been reinstated for use for all individuals 18 years of age and older. However, women younger than 50 should be aware of the rare but increased risk of developing a blood clot. Women in this age group may want to consider getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead.
What about long-term safety?
The risk for long-term side effects from the COVID vaccines are believed to be no different than the flu vaccine. It is rare to experience side effects more than two weeks after receiving an FDA-approved or authorized vaccine.
Keep in mind, many vaccine trial participants were vaccinated in the summer of 2020, and none of the participants reported long-term side effects from the vaccine. Still, researchers will continue to monitor them and report any issues.
It is worth noting, however, that a significant number of people who contracted COVID-19 continue to experience physical and mental problems many months after recovering from the infection.
Should I get the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID, have antibodies, received plasma or received monoclonal antibody treatments?
If you tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, we recommend you still get the vaccine because it is not clear how long your natural immunity will last, and reinfection is possible. However, if you received convalescent plasma or COVID antibody infusions as part of your treatment for COVID-19, you should wait 90 days after your last treatment before getting the vaccine.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and two weeks after receiving one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
If you received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it is very important that you get the second dose to get the full effect of the vaccine.
How does this benefit others around me (family members, coworkers, etc.)?
When you get the vaccine, you’re protecting yourself and the people around you because the vaccine helps prevent you from contracting and spreading the disease to others. The more people get vaccinated, community transmission occurrences can be reduced. This concept is called community immunity, or herd immunity. And it’s an important reason for you and your family to get vaccinated — so you can help keep yourselves and your community healthy.
Why is the vaccine necessary to end the pandemic?
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. Wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart from others will help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.
Germs can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick. But when enough people are vaccinated against a certain disease, the germs can’t travel as easily from person to person — and the entire community is less likely to get the disease.
That means even people who can’t get vaccinated will have some protection from COVID. And if a person does get sick, there’s less chance of an outbreak because it’s harder for the disease to spread. Eventually, the disease becomes rare — and sometimes it’s wiped out altogether.
Does the vaccine affect fertility?
No. Unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been scientifically disproven. Furthermore, more than 70,000 women became pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and none of them reported any problems. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends vaccination for all eligible people who may want to get pregnant in the future.
When will we reach herd immunity?
Right now, we don’t know for sure. Herd immunity, also referred to as community immunity or population immunity, means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or because they’ve been vaccinated. We are still learning how many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before most people can be considered protected. Also, we are still learning how effective the vaccines are against the new variants of the virus that cause COVID-19.
Do the current vaccines protect against all of the new variants?
New variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 are spreading in the United States. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most of these variants. However, some variants might cause illness in some people after they are fully vaccinated. The CDC is monitoring the data and will continue to update their recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. In addition, experts continue to monitor COVID vaccine study participants to see if a booster shot is needed in the future for those who have been vaccinated.
Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine if You’re Pregnant or Want to Become Pregnant
Many women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant have understandable concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Ongoing research has shown the vaccines to be safe for expectant mothers as well as their babies. And the vaccine has no effect on fertility. If you’re expecting, we want you to feel confident that getting the COVID vaccine is the best thing you can do for you and your child.
Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine, pregnancy and fertility:
Is it safe for pregnant women to get the vaccine?
Several months of data from the original clinical trials and from vaccine recipients who were pregnant or became pregnant after the injections have provided solid proof that the vaccine is safe for both you and your baby. In fact, pregnant women who received the vaccine have passed antibodies along to their babies to help protect them. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommend that pregnant and lactating women get the vaccine. Because of the small risk of blood clots reported with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we recommend that you talk to your OB/ GYN about which vaccine would be best for you to take.
Do the vaccines affect breastfeeding?
No, the vaccines do not affect breastfeeding. Early safety data on COVID-19 vaccines that were given to pregnant women do not reveal any safety concerns. In fact, several vaccines have safely been given to pregnant and lactating individuals for decades. And, new research has shown that nursing mothers who receive a COVID-19 vaccine may pass protective antibodies to their babies through breast milk for several weeks following vaccination.
Do the vaccines affect your ability to get pregnant?
No, the vaccines do not affect your ability to get pregnant Thousands of women became pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with no reporter problems. Furthermore, unfounded claims that link the COVID-19 vaccine to infertility have been scientifically disproven. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends vaccination for all eligible people who may want to get pregnant in the future.
Can pregnancy make you more likely to get severely ill if you contract COVID-19?
While the overall risk of developing serious illness is low, studies have shown that pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at significantly more risk for severe illness than non-pregnant women. This is one more reason why pregnant women, and those thinking about getting pregnant, should get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Furthermore, as COVID restrictions are lifted across the U.S., pregnant women and those contemplating pregnancy are strongly encouraged to take all available precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19, including:
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine
- Maintaining prenatal care appointments
- Wearing a mask at work, in public and around those who are not vaccinated
- Washing hands frequently
- Maintaining social distancing when in crowds or around those who are not vaccinated
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy, talk to your OB/GYN and visit the CDC website.