A Message to the Emerson Community About COVID-19


Dear Community Members,

As you know, COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and throughout the country are at an all-time high. We understand you may have some questions as this surge is very different than the other surges. I hope the information below will help you and your loved ones during this challenging time. We are committed to providing the safest possible environment for our patients and staff.

Please note that due to the COVID-19 surge, our practices receive an extremely high volume of calls and messages. As a result, you may experience delayed response times. We apologize for any delays and appreciate your understanding. Our staff reply to messages and calls as fast as possible. Thank you for understanding.

Our inpatient COVID rates at Emerson have increased slightly over the past few weeks. Yet, the number of patients admitted due to their COVID symptoms has remained relatively low. Currently, more than half of the patients hospitalized who have tested positive for COVID were admitted for other reasons and found to have COVID during routine testing upon admission. Getting vaccinated and receiving a booster can help protect you from severe symptoms.

We are incredibly grateful to have support from National Guard members helping patients and visitors at our entrances and transporting patients throughout the hospital, allowing our staff to stay focused on the outstanding care that Emerson is known for providing.

We are hopeful this surge will ease in the coming weeks.

Be well,

Christine Schuster, RN, MBA
President & CEO

Frequently Asked Questions


1. I have COVID-like symptoms, do I need a test?

If you have symptoms, you should get tested. Massachusetts has many testing options. You can also use a home testing kit (often called antigen tests).

To schedule a test at an Emerson site:

  • Call your primary care doctor to request an order for COVID testing. Once we receive your order, Emerson central COVID scheduling will call you to schedule a test.
    • If you have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19, a scheduler will call you within 24 hours or the next business day.
    • If you have no symptoms or need testing for travel purposes, you will receive a call within 72 hours.
    • If you need a test in preparation for a surgery or procedure, we will schedule your test 48-72 hours before your procedure.
  • If you have COVID symptoms and do not have a PCP, visit the Emerson Urgent Care website or call 978-287-8990 to schedule a test.
  • You can also visit www.mass.gov to find a testing site near you.
  • NOTE:  due to the high volume of testing for symptoms and exposure, effective January 12, Emerson temporarily stopped self-pay/convenience tests. We hope to resume self-pay/convenience testing in the coming weeks.

Please do not visit an emergency department for the sole purpose of getting a COVID test. Visit a COVID testing site instead. DO go to the emergency department if you have severe symptoms, including:

  • Severe trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or dizziness
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
  • If you have one or more of these symptoms and cannot get to the emergency department, call 9-1-1.

2. What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is for people who tested positive for COVID-19. Quarantine is for people exposed to someone with COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information on quarantine and isolation, please visit this CDC page.

3. I have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. What does this mean?

“Close contact” refers to time you spent directly with an infected person. This means you were within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period. The 15 minutes do not need to be at the same time. For example, three separate 5-minute exposures over the course of a day would total a 15-minute exposure. If you were in close contact with an infected person, you should be notified either by the person, school or community organization, or by the health department, though community contact tracing efforts have recently been reduced.

  • Guidance around the need for quarantine and testing after an exposure is changing. See the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health or your state website for the most up-to-date guidance.
  • Note that most Massachusetts public schools are following the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. However, some schools may have different guidelines. Please call your child’s school to find out what their specific policy is on quarantining if your child has been exposed.

4. I tested negative after exposure. What should I do?

If you tested negative with a home test, follow the current guidelines related to quarantine and other testing. If you develop symptoms, you should test again. If a home antigen test is negative and you have symptoms, public health experts recommend getting a PCR test or testing yourself again with a home test after a few days.

In Massachusetts, unless local health departments have chosen otherwise, schools may allow a child to test and stay in school if they were exposed in school. Please call your child’s school for the specific policy.

5. I tested positive at home. Do I need to get a PCR test?

If you use a home testing kit and test positive, you have COVID-19. You do not need a PCR test for confirmation. Please start home isolation immediately and notify your close contacts of your positive test. This guidance may change over time depending on how much COVID is in our community. We will let you know if this changes.

6. How accurate are home test kits?

Although currently in short supply, home testing kits are quite good at detecting the virus. A rule of thumb is that if your home test shows a positive result, you are likely infected with COVID and should stay home and begin isolation. If testing after an exposure, a negative home test does not always mean that you do not have the virus. The CDC recommends testing two or more times with at least 24 hours between tests for the most accurate results. Visit the CDC website for more information on home tests.

7. I tested positive. I am NOT at high risk for severe disease. I am worried about my symptoms. What should I do?

Follow these guidelines:

Mild Symptoms — Stay Home and Isolate
Mild symptoms are a temperature below 100.4 degrees (below 102.4 degrees for children older than 3 months), aches and pains, or a mild cough. If you have these symptoms, stay home and isolate yourself from others. Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and monitor your symptoms. Hopefully, you will start feeling better within a few days. You do not need to contact your doctor to let them know you have COVID. Learn more about what to do when you are sick.

Moderate Symptoms — Call Your Care Provider
If you have moderate symptoms, such as a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, significant coughing, or shortness of breath, contact your primary care provider’s office. If you are receiving cancer treatment, please call your oncologist’s office.

  • For children ages 3 months and older who are not immunocompromised, a high fever is greater than 102.4 degrees. If your child has a fever, significant coughing, or shortness of breath, you should call their primary care provider’s office. You should also call if they are sleepier, if they have not gone to the bathroom in more than 10 hours (if 3 years or older) or more than 8 hours (if younger than 3 years old). Your child’s doctor can recommend the next steps.
  • If you do not have a primary care provider or have symptoms that need immediate attention, visit Emerson Urgent Care options.
  • For a list of severe symptoms that require a visit to the emergency department, please refer to #1 above.

8. I tested positive, and I am at high risk for severe disease. I am worried about my symptoms. What should I do?

Call your primary care provider’s office. You may be eligible for outpatient COVID treatment. Please note, we have limited supplies of these therapies. If you have severe symptoms, go to the emergency department.

9. Does Emerson provide monoclonal antibody treatments?

Yes, we do provide monoclonal antibody treatments. This treatment can only be ordered by a referring physician. If you are experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your primary care physician’s office for treatment options.