Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19?

    The coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common colds to more severe diseases in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. This strain of coronavirus was first reported in the Wuhan region of China.

  • How Can Someone get the COVID-19?

    COVID-19 can spread from person-to-person and when in close contact (about 6 feet). The spread can occur when an infected person releases respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze and inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching an infected surface or object and then touch their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that’s not the main way the virus can spread.

  • What People Can Do?

    The guidance for avoiding novel Coronavirus is like that for any respiratory virus, such as the flu or common cold:

    • Get vaccinated
    • Wear a mask
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (at least 20 seconds) and avoid touching your face.
    • Stay away from people that are sick.
    • Get proper rest and eat healthy.
    • Stay home when you’re sick and encourage family, friends and colleagues to do the same.
  • Who Can Get Infected?

    People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. However, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions including blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to the virus.

  • Is There a Vaccine?

    There are several vaccines that have been approved from emergency use authorization by the FDA that are widely available in the U.S. and around the world.

    The vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE has received full approval by the FDA. This vaccine, which shows to be more than 95 percent effective, may help prevent people 12 years old and older from getting seriously ill and hospitalized. Patients receive two doses of this vaccine 21 days apart.

    The vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. has received emergency use authorization by the FDA. This vaccine, which is about 95 percent effective, can reduce infections among asymptomatic individuals and could potentially help prevent the spread of the virus from person to person. The Moderna vaccine is given to patients 18 years old and older in two different doses 28 days apart.

    The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is the third to receive emergency use authorization by the FDA. This vaccine was found to be 66 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 illness and was also highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death in those who did get sick after exposure to the virus. According to the CDC, women younger than 50 years old should especially be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination. This vaccine is administered to individuals 18 years old and older as a single injection.

    For more information on available vaccines, visit

  • Is There a Treatment?

    There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with the virus can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. Roughly four out of five people who are infected experience only mild to moderate symptoms.

  • What is the Omicron variant?
    Omicron, first reported in South Africa, is a new variant of COVID-19 that’s quickly spreading around the world. The variant, which is slowly replacing the Delta variant, is believed to be able to spread quicker and easier than the original variant. 
  • What are the symptoms of the Omicron variant?
    Health experts say this new variant appears to show mild or no symptoms. However, there is currently limited data to know if the variant causes severe illness, hospitalization or death. People infected with Omicron can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • What is the Delta variant?

    Throughout the pandemic, the novel coronavirus has spawned new variants as the virus, transported across continents and impacting populations, mutates to survive. The Delta variant, which is proving to be more contagious, was first identified in India in December 2020 and is now the dominant strain in the US with 83 percent of the new cases positive for the Delta variant (as of July 22, 2021).

  • How is the Delta variant different from earlier COVID variants?

    The Delta variant is believed to be about 50 percent more contagious than previous strains because it multiplies more rapidly in people’s respiratory tracts, creating higher viral loads in infected individuals and making them infectious sooner. Earlier in the pandemic, infected individuals were believed to be infectious around Day 6 after exposure; with the Delta variant, it is around Day 4. Because of this, it also spreads much easier. For every 1 person infected with the Delta variant, without proper infectious disease precautions, they will most likely spread it to up to 7 people. For comparison with the prior strains, 1 infected person spread it to about 2-3 other people.

  • Is the Delta variant more deadly?

    The Delta variant is proving to be more transmissible – so it’s more likely an exposed, non-vaccinated person will be infected than with previous strains. But, so far, it appears the Delta variant is no more likely to lead an infected person to be hospitalized. 

  • Are children or young adults more susceptible to the Delta variant?

    There is no evidence yet that the Delta variant has any preference by age. However, it is known that the Delta variant is more infectious and children and young adults are both among the groups with the lowest vaccination rates. Children under 12 years old are not eligible for a vaccine as only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in children 12 and older in the United States. Also, young adults are among the country’s least vaccinated population groups.

  • How can I protect myself from the Delta variant?
    If you are eligible, get a COVID-19 vaccine. Even if you happen to still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, your complications from the virus are greatly diminished. And regardless of vaccine status, the simple but important public health practices learned earlier in the pandemic still apply: Practice good hand hygiene and, when indoors and in crowded settings, wear a mask and practice social distancing.
  • I've already had COVID-19 do I need to worry about the Delta variant?

    Yes, you can get COVID-19 a second time. While your body produces antibodies for a while after you successfully recover from COVID, scientists aren’t yet sure how long that protection lasts or how effective they may be against more infectious strains such as the Delta variant. If you have not yet received a vaccine and you are eligible for a vaccine, talk to your doctor about when it makes sense for you to take that additional step of protection.

  • Why aren't the vaccines better at fighting off the Delta variant?

    The COVID-19 vaccines are believed to be providing good protection against every strain of COVID thus far. And the vaccines are protecting most of those vaccinated individuals who have a “breakthrough” case of COVID from having worse medical complications which could require hospitalization. But no vaccine is 100% effective and until there is herd immunity – meaning enough people have developed immunity to COVID so that the virus has difficulty finding new hosts to infect – we can anticipate the virus will continue to evolve. Scientists believe the United States could obtain herd immunity when about 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.

  • What to Do if Similar Symptoms Occur?

    If people have symptoms of COVID-19, they can go get tested at a community testing center. BayCare also provides access to various testing options at BayCare Urgent Care clinics throughout the Tampa Bay area.

    BayCare Urgent Care offers rapid antigen and traditional PCR testing for patients who are symptomatic. Both tests are offered in conjunction with an urgent care visit and evaluation by a health care provider. The PCR test samples are sent to BayCare Laboratories for processing, and patients can receive results within 12 to 48 hours. The rapid antigen, available to those who develop symptoms within the first 7 days of symptom onset, provides results in 15 minutes.

    BayCare also offers an effective and reliable rapid PCR test that can detect COVID-19 in 30 minutes. The test is available by appointment at 13 BayCare Urgent Care locations to asymptomatic people wishing to confirm they are negative before traveling. The test is not billed to insurance but is available as a self-pay service at a cost of $150. See full list of locations here.

  • Where to go for COVID-19 testing

    Testing remains an important tool for tracking and containing future spikes and outbreaks. To help serve the community’s needs, BayCare provides access to various testing options at BayCare Urgent Care clinics throughout the Tampa Bay area.

    For Symptomatic Patients

    BayCare Urgent Care clinics offer traditional PCR testing in conjunction with an urgent care visit and evaluation by a health care provider. The PCR test is sent to BayCare Laboratories for processing, and patients can receive results within 12 to 48 hours. Find an urgent care near you.

    BayCare Urgent Care also can perform a rapid antigen test in combination with an urgent care visit and evaluation by a health care provider. The test is for symptomatic individuals within the first 7 days of symptom onset. Patients receive results in 15 minutes.

    For Asymptomatic Individuals

    BayCare offers an effective and reliable rapid PCR test that can detect COVID-19 in 30 minutes. The test is available by appointment at thirteen BayCare Urgent Care locations to asymptomatic people wishing to confirm they are negative for COVID-19, such as before traveling. The test is not billed to insurance but is available as a self-pay service at a cost of $150. Urgent Care centers offering Rapid COVID-19 PCR Tests.

    Pre-screening for COVID-19 is also available.

  • Can I get a COVID-19 test at the emergency room?

    Remember to only go to our Emergency Rooms if you have an emergency – our ERs are NOT doing public testing.

    Getting your test done here could result in additional facility and physician fees. If you think you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the online screening tool helps direct you to the right care and resources, including our telehealth app BayCareAnywhere.

  • Can I still visit friends and family in the hospital?

    As of August 3, BayCare has tightened visitation rules at our 14 acute care hospitals to help protect patients, team members, physicians and the public. Patients will be allowed one adult visitor per day during the hours of 8am to 8pm. All visitors must wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, and are to limit their movements in the hospitals to travel to and from the patient’s room.

    All other limitations on visitation at BayCare hospitals remain in effect due to BayCare's continued commitment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of patients, visitors, team members and physicians:

    • Only visitors 18 years or older, who pass COVID-19 screening, are allowed entry. All visitors must wear a mask during their entire visit.
    • Inpatients will be allowed one visitor per day from 8am-8pm, except for the exceptions noted below.
    • Extended hours and provisions are allowed for pediatric, neonatal intensive care, labor and delivery and mothers and newborns.
    • No visitors will be allowed for Behavioral Health or COVID-19 patients.
    • Patients arriving for surgeries and procedures (in facilities where elective surgeries are open) will be allowed a visitor during pre-operation and recovery times.
    • Visitor capacity is limited in our emergency rooms. One visitor is allowed per patient, depending on capacity. If waiting areas become too crowded, visitors may be asked to wait outside until their patient is in a treatment room. Visitors aren't allowed to accompany COVID-19-positive patients or patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 until the patient is no longer in isolation/quarantine.

    Special circumstances can be approved by hospital leadership on a case-by-case basis, including reasonable accommodation for patients with disabilities or special needs and to comply with applicable laws.

    Note: BayCare’s Madonna Ptak Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center in Belleair and Mitchell Rehabilitation Center in New Port Richey are NOT impacted by this change and will continue to offer visitation in compliance with the state’s emergency rules for long-term care facilities. BayCare Alliant Hospital in Dunedin will also continue its visitation schedule of 3pm-8pm.

    Read more about BayCare Hospitals' Visitation Rules.

    Click here for our Hospital Visitation Policy.

  • What is social distancing?

    Social distancing measures are taken to restrict when and where people can gather in order to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. Social distancing includes avoiding crowded places and public transit, and keeping at least 6 feet between you and other people.

    Read more about Why Social Distancing Matters

  • Should I be concerned about my pets?

    The CDC hasn’t received reports of animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there’s no evidence that pets can spread the virus.

  • How to Stay Informed

    The numerous digital and social media channels allow misinformation to spread quickly. That’s why it’s important for people to get their information through reputable sources including local health systems, Florida Department of Health, Center for Disease Control and trusted news sources.