Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists several COVID-19 symptoms, which can range in severity from mild to severe and may appear 2-14 days after exposure. These include, but are not limited to, coughing and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, repeated shaking with chills, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.


If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested. Massachusetts has many testing options. You can also use a home testing kit (often called antigen tests). Visit our COVID-19 testing page to learn more about Emerson’s testing sites in Concord, Littleton and Hudson.

Please do not visit an emergency department for the sole purpose of getting a COVID test. Visit a COVID testing site instead. If you are experiencing symptoms, before coming to the hospital or urgent care, call your primary care physician or an urgent care center and tell them about your symptoms.

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.

In the video below, emergency department staff take you through the patient experience when you arrive at Emerson's ED during the COVID-19 pandemic.



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 you feel your symptoms need immediate attention, consider visiting an Emerson Urgent Care Center.

People with certain medical conditions may be considered high risk for severe disease. If you are concerned about your symptoms, call your primary care provider’s office. You may be eligible for outpatient COVID treatment. If you have severe symptoms that need immediate attention, go to the emergency department.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Does Emerson offer treatment for COVID-19?

People with mild COVID-19 commonly treat symptoms at home with rest, fluids and other common cold/flu treatments, although some may require medical care to treat more severe symptoms. Emerson does provide monoclonal antibody treatments, but 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 guidance.


If you have an illness, injury, or chronic condition, and need to be seen, call your doctor. Your doctor's office is a safe place! During this stressful time, it is important to take care of yourself. In addition to office visits, many offices are able to utilize telehealth for patients with health concerns. A telehealth visit is a convenient way for you to consult with your doctor without having to go to the office. While there are certain situations or conditions that require an in-office visit, many appointments can happen over the phone or with video chat. Most all insurance plans, including Medicare cover telehealth.

What should I do if I have an upcoming surgery or procedure?

A number of additional safety measures are in place to protect patients and staff, including pre-surgical testing and a separate, dedicated entrance just for patients undergoing surgery. Learn more by reading "Surgery at Emerson Hospital: Assuring Your Health & Safety".

Is it okay for my family members/friends to visit me in the hospital?

Emerson Hospital's visitor policy continues to adapt to the changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read our current visitor policy for more information, including specific exemptions for birth partners, parents of patients under 18, attorneys of patients, compassionate care situations, and companions for individuals with disabilities. Visitor screenings and other safety measures are in place to protect patients and staff. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

I do not have any symptoms. Should I wear a mask?

The CDC recommends that people wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in the community setting to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. Please note that individual towns may have their own requirements about wearing face coverings when outside the home. These face coverings are NOT a substitute for social distancing or preventive hygiene.

Should I avoid crowded areas?

The CDC's social distancing guidelines still recommend that people avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces. While many states and municipalities are relaxing rules around crowds and capacities in indoor spaces, social distancing precautions are still encouraged.

How do I access my vaccination records?

You can request, view and print your vaccination records and your COVID-19 SMART Health Card from the official Massachusetts Immunization Information System at

Does Emerson need blood donors during this public health emergency?

We are always grateful for blood donations. At this time, all blood donations must be by appointment only. We are unable to accept walk-ins. This is in keeping with social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please call 978-287-3778 to schedule an appointment or visit our Blood Donor Center page to learn more. Emerson's Blood Donor Center is unable to facilitate plasma donations (plasmapheresis). We urge anyone interested in donating their plasma to contact the American Red Cross. Click here to learn more about plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients.