Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
We’re facing uncertain times, dealing with a virus that still has left many questions unanswered. Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19, testing and prevention to protect yourself and your family.
COVID-19 and Your Health
Who is at risk of getting coronavirus?
Everyone. If you’re exposed to the novel coronavirus, you can contract it. While COVID-19 is a very serious infection and cases in Central Iowa in particular are at an all-time high. Taking precautions to protect yourself and your community has never been more crucial.
People of any age can get Covid-19, even healthy young adults. However, certain groups are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and suffering serious complications. Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at a higher risk. If you fall into the high-risk category, it’s especially important to take extra precautions and practice social distancing to prevent contracting the coronavirus.
What if I’m pregnant — am I at higher risk?
The overall risk of COVID-19 during pregnancy is low. However, pregnant women may be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 contraction and may be at an increased risk for adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. Pregnant women should take increased preventative steps like frequent handwashing, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.
Despite the pandemic, pregnant women should still continue their scheduled health care appointments during and after pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about you and your baby’s safety. If you are concerned about attending appointments due to COVID-19, ask your healthcare provider what they are doing to minimize spread of COVID-19.
What can I do to prevent COVID-19?
COVID-19 has caused a pandemic because it spreads so easily. It primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, which can come directly from a contagious person or a surface their droplets landed on. It is important to remember that people who are infected but not showing symptoms can still spread the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these are the most important ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. The mask should have two or more layers of fabric that is washable and breathable, and the mask should fight snugly on your face.
- Social distance by staying at least 6 feet (or about two full arm lengths) away from others who you don’t live with, and avoiding crowds.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when handwashing with soap and water is not an option.
You should also avoid touching your face, consider disinfecting high contact surfaces and always stay home when you are ill. Follow the latest social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as guidelines outlined by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and your local community.
What symptoms should I look out for?
The most common coronavirus symptoms are a fever of 100 or higher combined with a cough or shortness of breath. Other potential signs may include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of taste and smell
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
These symptoms can start anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. If you are having difficulty breathing at any time and feel it is a true medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
What is the difference between the Flu and COVID-19?
Both influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than the flu and cause more serious of an illness in some people. Flu and COVID share many symptoms, but loss of taste and smell and shortness of breath or difficult breathing are markers of COVID-19. Learn more about the difference between flu and COVID here.
Are there any treatments available for COVID-19?
Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19, however vaccines are now being selectively distributed here in Iowa. There are many medications being trialed across the country. Our providers are staying up-to-date on the latest advancements in coronavirus treatment and will use evidence-based medicine when it becomes available.
However, treatment to relieve some symptoms of COVID-19 is available. You can take acetaminophen to reduce your fever and relieve muscle aches.
How does the coronavirus test work?
It’s a simple nasal and oral swab test. Using an applicator, we swab you to collect a sample. It’s a drive-through test, so you stay in your car.
Once we have your sample, we actually start with an influenza test. If that comes back negative, we send the swab and culture medium to the lab to test for the novel coronavirus. One of our nursing team members will contact you as soon as we have your results, which can take anywhere from 3–10 days.
If I have symptoms, where can I get tested?
The Iowa Clinic offers appointments for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing during the following times:
- Monday 1pm-4pm
- Tuesday 12pm-4pm
- Wednesday 12pm-3pm
- Thursday 8am-12pm
- Friday noon-2pm
at our West Des Moines location. You do not need to be an Iowa Clinic patient but you must have an appointment.
For the safety of all patients, staff and providers, we are not currently accepting walk-ins of any kind and are not conducting testing inside the building. We also aren’t offering testing through any of our other primary care locations in Waukee, Altoona, Urbandale, Indianola, Johnston or downtown Des Moines.
Can more than one person get tested if we’re in the same car?
Only those who have direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and has had symptoms in the last 14 days will be tested. Second-hand exposures within the same household and exposures to someone who has tested positive but does not exhibit any symptoms are not eligible for testing at this time, but individuals should self-isolate with those tested while awaiting test results.More information on testing criteria can be found on our COVID-19 Testing page.
If my family member needs testing, can I drive them to the testing center?
Yes. If we determine that someone in your family needs to be tested for COVID-19 but cannot drive themselves to the testing site, you can take them.
Please take the proper precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus:
- The ill person should avoid direct contact with others and cover their cough.
- Everyone should wear a mask to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Everyone should wash their hands frequently and immediately after the testing appointment.
What if someone I know lives in a nursing home? Should they be tested for COVID-19?
Most of our local nursing homes are doing careful screening of all potential guests and significantly limiting visitors. Anyone with known exposure or illness will not be allowed in. This is an attempt to prevent the virus from entering the care facility. While there are coronavirus outbreaks in facilities in Iowa, not all senior center or nursing home residents require testing unless they have symptoms. These terms and conditions may vary by the facility and their corporation’s compliance guidelines for COVID-19.
Do I need to quarantine after getting tested for COVID-19?
Yes, you should immediately self-quarantine after being tested, stay in your home and minimize contact with others until you get the results. It takes about 3–5 business days for us to get results back, but depending on test volume it could be as long as 7–10 days.
As soon as we have results, we’ll let you know.
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?
You need to stay home under quarantine for at least 14 days. You can count your self-quarantine time from the day you got tested. While in quarantine and recovering from COVID-19 you should:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Avoid contact with others — even your family.
- Monitor your symptoms and contact your primary care provider if your breathing issues get worse.
After a positive coronavirus test, you will be contacted by IDPH to answer a few questions. They will likely want to know with whom you’ve had close contact so others can be tested as well. Answer the questions to the best of your ability to help mitigate the spread in the Des Moines area.
If your family has been in close contact with you and you exhibit symptoms, they should also undergo testing for COVID-19. At this time, The Iowa Clinic will not test patients who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive but does not have any symptoms.
How much does the COVID-19 test cost?
The coronavirus test is free. The federal guidelines state that there should be no cost and no co-pay.
Because some people were tested before the federal directive was in place, they may have been charged a co-pay for the coronavirus test. Insurance companies throughout Iowa are just now working on these issues and it remains to be seen if you are eligible for a refund. Contact your insurance company if this applies to you.
Where should I go if I can’t schedule an appointment during the coronavirus testing hours?
If you’re feeling well or have mild symptoms, it’s okay to wait until the next day to get tested. Keep yourself in quarantine in your own home until you can make an appointment.
If you have not been tested but have severe symptoms including severe shortness of breath or dehydration, go to the emergency room.
How The Iowa Clinic is Addressing COVID-19
What are you doing to prevent the spread of the virus in the clinic?
To ensure the safety of each and every patient, we:
- Perform all testing outside the clinic.
- Set up rigorous screening processes at all clinic locations.
- Designated Urgent Care locations as infectious clinics to keep those patients out of our Primary Care clinics.
- Trained our staff to wear protective gear as needed and to sanitize patient rooms appropriately.
For more information on what we’re doing and what’s expected of patients, please visit our safety page.
How are you handling exposure within your clinics?
If a patient is already inside our clinic and then reports an exposure to an individual who has symptoms and has received a positive COVID-19 test, we immediately isolate them from other patients and limit staff exposure as well. We then test them and encourage them to stay home in quarantine. Once the exposed patient has left, we thoroughly sanitize the room and clinic following protocols recommended by the CDC. All who came in direct contact with the patient are monitored.