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South Mississippi's Largest Multi-Specialty Clinic

Hattiesburg Clinic

Unless you are accompanying a minor or you are an essential caregiver, no visitors are allowed at this time. Please wear a mask or face covering when entering the building. This is for the safety of our patients and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus

Below are frequently asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) as it relates to our patients and community. The FAQs below are subject to change based on the receipt of more current information as the situation is changing rapidly across the U.S. and world. The information on this page is subject to modification, pending guidance from the WHO, CDC, and Mississippi Department of Health.

Rambod A. Rouhbakhsh, MD, Answers Your Questions with Local News, WDAM

Q: Are children less likely to spread Covid-19?

A: Children are just as likely to spread this disease as adults. Though they are less likely to get it, their interactions are more intense, resulting in a high likelihood of spread.

Q: What should I do if I have cold or flu symptoms?

A: If you must see your medical team and have active symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms including congestion or runny nose, please contact the office of your appointment prior to your visit. Nurses will provide guidance.

Q: How do people catch this virus?

A: Covid-19 is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets that are sneezed or coughed out. That is why it is recommended that people maintain a distance of six feet from one another and wear face coverings.

Q: How long are patients contagious if they have Covid-19?

A: The virus is believed to have a maximum incubation period of 14 days.  This means that patients can be contagious even if they don’t have symptoms.

Q: If my family members/caregivers have not been vaccinated and do not have a fever or respiratory symptoms, should we wear a mask in public? 

A: Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends unvaccinated people should wear a mask in indoor public places. The CDC has more guidance for unvaccinated people on their website.

Q: Is it safe to donate blood?

A: Yes. Exercise the same precautions that you would when going anywhere at this time. Blood donation centers are taking the necessary requisite steps to make sure you are safe. We absolutely need people to donate blood so please sign up today.

Q: If I had Covid-19 and have since recovered, can I donate blood?

A: Yes, there is no evidence that this virus is passed through blood.

Q: Are there any new symptoms associated with Covid-19 infections?

A: Other than the base symptoms, cough, and fever, there have been cases of strokes and heart attacks in younger people who test positive for Covid-19.

Q: How can people cope with depression and anxiety due to Covid-19? 

A: The best technique to follow is to take care of your body, eat healthy, sleep properly, and find a release to help rejuvenate yourself. 

Q: Is it safe to have family gatherings? 

A: If possible, the safest thing to do is not to gather with large groups of unvaccinated people. The only way to mitigate the risks associated with gatherings is to wear a mask and properly social distance. The CDC has released guidance on safer activities for fully vaccinated families.

Q: Are the number of cases in Mississippi beginning to plateau?

A: No. There are no signs of cases plateauing. Plateauing means that cases are staying at a steady state with little or no change. In Mississippi, the number of cases per capita is one of the highest. The overall goal is for cases to decline. 

Q: Are there any racial differences with regard to Covid-19? 

A:  Yes. African American adults have shown to be the highest demographic per capita for hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths. In the state of Mississippi, nearly 60% of infections are in African American adults. According to the CDC, African Americans and Latino or Hispanic persons are 2.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 compared to white non-Hispanic persons.

Q: Did the Stay-At-Home orders help? 

A:  Yes. A journal article published from JAMA recently showed information on an analysis of the effectiveness of the Stay-At-Home orders. The analysis was based on Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio and Virginia. The results showed that the stay-at-home orders did have a positive effect.

Q: What is herd immunity?

A: Herd immunity occurs when the infection rate is lower than 1. At this time, we think this rate is 2 or 3 per person, meaning, every person who contracts Covid-19 spreads it to 2-3 people. Herd immunity is when more people are immune to contracting the illness than there are people who are susceptible.

Q: How long can respiratory droplets last? Is it true that one minute of loud talking can generate enough droplets to linger for 8 minutes? 

A: Maybe, there was a study recently about this, but we are not completely sure about this information. We are sure that sneezing and coughing carry many more droplets. 

Q: Is it safe to engage in outdoor activities? 

A: If you want to spend time with people who don’t live with you, outdoors is the safer choice. You are less likely to be exposed to Covid-19 during outdoor activities. Remember to stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you and limit your time around others.

Q: Is Covid-19 the third-highest cause of death in the United States? 

A: Yes, coronavirus has become one of the highest causes of death in the United States. 

Q: Can you catch Covid-19 a second time after recovering from it? 

A: According to the CDC, cases of reinfection with Covid-19 have been reported, but remain rare​.​

Q: Will this eventually go away or is Covid-19 here to stay? 

A: This virus is not going to go away. We will be dealing with it far into the future.

Q: Are swimming pools safe? Can Covid-19 survive in swimming pools? 

A: Though the virus will likely be killed in a properly chlorinated pool, going to a public pool is taking a pretty big risk. Swimming involves not just the water, but also spitting it out and aerosolizing it. Though the virus may not survive in the pool, there are many other ways of transferring it from one person to another.

Q: What does Covid-19 stand for?

A: Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Q: What is the recovery time for people who contract Covid-19?

A: For less severe cases, the recovery time is around two weeks. For more severe cases, recovery time could be as long as 6 weeks.

Q: How can I tell the difference between a regular cough and a cough caused by Covid-19?

A: Coughs vary from person to person. If you can tell that your cough is different from your normal cold cough, you should get tested. The coughing caused by Covid-19 is usually a dry, bothersome one.

Q: How can you tell the difference between Covid-19, the flu, and allergies?

A: The symptoms of flu and Covid-19 are very similar and this makes it very hard to tell the difference between the two. The only way to tell is by testing. Allergies, on the other hand, tend to be less severe.

Q: Why do we care about Covid-19 so much? Isn’t the flu more deadly?

A: We care about Covid-19 because it is a more severe illness than the flu and it spreads rapidly. People can get more sick from this, and because the majority of people will have mild symptoms, they can potentially pass it on to others without knowing that they are ill. Covid-19 has about a 0.6% mortality rate compared to the flu which is 0.1%. So, six times more people will die from this illness than from seasonal flu.

Q:  What is the difference between the 2009 pandemic, H1N1, and Covid-19?

A:  Previously, with H1N1 and other pandemics, those illnesses were severe enough that everyone who contracted them was hospitalized and quarantined. Covid-19, however, can be passed by those who are showing no symptoms and it can become very severe for those with compromised immune systems. Covid-19 shows the same rate of infection as H1N1 or possibly even higher.

Q: Is there a blood shortage right now?

A: Yes, there is a blood shortage currently and because of that there is a national call for doctors to perform only necessary procedures.

Q: Are our state and local officials doing enough to protect us?

A: The hope is that people will receive the messages being issued by our state and local officials about this disease and voluntarily do as medical professionals ask without having to legislate these recommendations.

Q: Are we going to see Covid-19 for the next 10-20 years?

A: Yes. But, hopefully, it will not be a virus that mutates as quickly as the flu and we can have one long-lasting immunity similar to measles.

Q: Should health care workers wear masks when at home with their families?

A: As long as health care workers have the appropriate PPE while in direct patient contact and practice safety measures at home, it should be fairly safe to be unmasked around family. It’s important for health care workers to remove shoes before entering the home, immediately put clothes in the washer, and avoid excessive physical contact at this time.

Q: Are masks insufficient? Do they really protect people from Covid-19? 

A: Covid-19 is spread mostly through respiratory droplets and cloth/woven masks will protect people from these droplets. Masks should be layered more for adequate protection. Furthermore, people should not touch their mask do to respiratory droplets may be caught on the mask and can easily be contagious when removing the mask. 

Q: Should people be taking vitamins with zinc to help when leaving home? 

A: There is no evidence that any supplements help prevent coronavirus at this time. If you are going to take zinc supplements, only take it if you have potentially been exposed to the virus and do not take more than 50 milligrams per day, as there is a danger of overdosing.

Q: How can people properly clean their masks during this time? 

A: First remove your mask with gloves, wash it thoroughly and store it in paper bags, so it can breathe, not ziplock bags. If you have a mask made out of cotton, you should wash it the same as you would wash any of your other cotton-based materials. 

Q: What are some tips for people now that places of business have returned to normal hours? 

A: It is important to maintain your “street smarts” during this time, meaning, just because a place is open does not mean it is completely free of disease and your chances of infection are not there. People should still wear masks and stay six feet apart. 

Q: Are people in large house-holds at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus due to the shelter-in-place orders? 

A: Only if multiple people in the household are leaving the house. The more people who leave, the more the risk of exposure goes up. There is, however, nothing more inherently dangerous about having a large household as long as everyone is sheltering in place.

Q: How can residents safely check mail without catching or spreading Covid-19?

A: One way to kill the virus is by leaving your mail in the sun for a few hours. The ultraviolet radiation will destroy the virus. Also, when handling mail you should wear gloves, dispose of the packaging and wash hands with soap for 20 seconds.

Q: What are some tips for people in the Pine Belt to avoid catching this virus?

A: Vaccination is the best defense against Covid-19. If you are unvaccinated, you should wear masks, wash your hands for 20 seconds, and cover your eyes if possible.

Q: Soap and water or hand sanitizer?

A: The gold standard is soap and water. Soap and water remove more germs and are more effective than hand sanitizer. You must wash well enough, though. Singing happy birthday twice through or a 20-second wash is a good rule of thumb. 

Q: Do other types of masks, other than the N95 mask, provide significant protection against Covid-19?

A: Any protection is better than nothing at this time. Since this virus is passed through respiratory droplets, the main focus is simply to have something covering your face.

Q: How do you properly remove your gloves and mask?

A: The best technique is to remove your gloves first, then remove your mask, and finally, wash your hands for 20 seconds.

Q: Is it safe to purchase take-out food during this pandemic?

A: There is no evidence that this spreads by food.

Q: Is it even possible to protect the most vulnerable people in our community from this virus?

A: Yes, this is a public health war. All of us need to do our part to keep this virus from spreading. The more that it spreads, the more likely it becomes that the most vulnerable members of our community will be affected.

Q: Is there anything I can do to keep myself, my family, and my friends safe?

A: The most important steps to take are the same as for every cold and flu season:

    • Get vaccinated.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
    • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like Covid-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
    • Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
    • Plan how you will take care of sick family members. Make plans for childcare if you are sick or if your child is sick. Have a thermometer at home so you can check for fever if you or a loved one feels ill.
    • Try to get a few extra months’ worth of your prescription medications, if possible.

Stay informed – check cdc.gov regularly for new updates.

Q: What medications are prescribed to patients and can antibiotics help fight coronavirus?

A: Nothing is prescribed for this virus as of now and antibiotics do not help.

Q: Are plasma donations helping people who are infected with Covid-19?

A: Yes, everyone should donate blood. Also, people who have recovered from coronavirus should prioritize donating blood for the sake of others in order to pass on short-term antibodies.

Q: Is Covid-19 attacking a specific demographic more than another?

A: Older people with health problems are known to be more at risk. Also, in the southern states, older people have worse symptoms when compared to people of the same age in other areas of the nation.

Q: Are people with disabilities at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19?

A: Depending on the disability, some people may be at higher risk. Those with disabilities affecting lung function and the immune system are more vulnerable.

Q: If my wife is expecting, can I be in the delivery room?

A: It depends on the policies of the individual hospital. Please check with your health care provider to see how these policies will impact you.

Q: Are expecting mothers more vulnerable to coronavirus?

A: There is no reliable information regarding whether or not expecting mothers are more vulnerable to this disease. Regardless, expecting mothers should be taking all recommended safety precautions.

Q: Should asthma patients use their nebulizers daily as a preventative measure to keep their lungs healthy? Would it make a difference in regards to the risk of getting Covid-19? 

A: First, it depends on what medication(s) you’re taking. There are two types of asthma medications. One is the rescue inhaler, albuterol, and the other is one that you’re supposed to take on a daily basis. If you’re given a medication that your physician has directed you to take daily, then you need to take it. In regards to your rescue inhaler, there is no evidence to suggest taking that on a regular basis is going to help prevent Covid-19 or even improve your asthma symptoms. In fact, there can be significant side effects taking that medication regularly. Don’t do anything beyond what your physician has asked you to do.  

Q: I have diabetes and a pacemaker. Am I considered “high risk?” 

A: Diabetes does put you at an increased risk. We believe because it is a chronic medical illness, it does sometimes affect your immune system. You can also be a high-risk person based on your age.

Q: Are cancer patients at greater risk of contracting Covid-19?

A: According to the CDC, patients with blood malignancies and other conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, and hypertension are at most risk, and patients who are in active treatment for any type of cancer are also at risk. Patients who are not in active treatment should also be cautious.

Q: What symptoms should parents be aware of with pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome? 

A: This is a systemic inflammatory illness that is known to be after Covid-19 infection. Almost every child that has been identified with this syndrome has had Covid-19 diagnosis retrospectively or prospectively; however, we also know that children get this inflammatory response from other viral infections as well. Symptoms dealing with systemic inflammatory illness are: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains, swelling in lymph nodes, rash, blood shot eyes, reddish colored lips or tongue, or just generally feeling tired. More severe symptoms may be pain or pressure in chest, bluish discolored face or lips, severe problems with breathing, and severe abdominal pain. For the more severe symptoms, we recommend you immediately get to the emergency room or call 911. 

Q: Do children get ill with this virus?

A: Every illness has a different kind of response. Children do not seem to be as severely impacted by Covid-19 and that could be due to a number of reasons. One theory is that kids don’t mount as strong of an immune response as adults do against this virus. Another theory is that since Covid-19 is a coronavirus, like many other cold viruses, and since children are so often exposed to colds, they may have some inherent immunity.

Q: Are there different symptoms for adults vs. children?

A: Children will typically have the same symptoms with this illness but to a far less severe extent when compared to adults.

Q: Can I bring children and family members/caregivers to my appointment(s)?

A: Please avoid bringing children under 12 who do not have an appointment to the clinic. While children appear to be less susceptible to Covid-19, we would like to limit their exposure and potential for them serving as transmitters of the virus.  We also ask that you bring only one additional person to your appointment(s).

Q: How can parents, grandparents, and guardians explain to children what is happening, without scaring them?

A: The best way to explain this situation to children is to be truthful and tell them that we are decreasing the spread of an illness.

Q: When should I be tested for Covid-19?

A: Given the limitations in regard to testing supplies, people should be tested when they feel sick or when they have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Q: How long does it take for results to come back?

A: Generally, we can get PCR Covid-19 test results back in 12 to 24 hours if they are sent to the Mississippi Department of Health.  Some patients’ tests may need to be sent to a different lab, and those can take a few days to come back. Rapid tests come back in 20 minutes.

Q: Can someone have Covid-19 and get a negative test result? 

A: Yes, it’s absolutely a possibility. This particular test is what’s called a PCR test, and those tend to be very, very accurate. However, there are multiple steps along the way where things could fall through and make the test less accurate. When this is all over, we’ll have a better sense of how good this test really is. Right now, we’re hopeful that the sensitivities are over 90% which would mean it’s a good test.

Q: Are clinics being overwhelmed by increased demand for Covid-19 testing?

A: No. The Cough & Fever Clinic has relied mostly on curbside testing and less on in-person appointments for testing.

Q: Is antibody testing available?

A: Yes, antibody testing is available at Hattiesburg Clinic. We ask that you go through your physician to order the test so that you will have a better idea of what to do with this information.  The big question is, “Does this immunity last and will it actually protect people?” We don’t have the answer to that question currently, but this test will let you know if you have already been exposed to the virus.

Q: Is Hattiesburg Clinic testing patients for Covid-19?

A: Hattiesburg Clinic began testing patients and providers who exhibit Covid-19-related symptoms in February 2020. As noted above, all of our primary care locations and Immediate Care facilities have the ability to test for Covid-19. See Cough & Fever Clinic for more info about getting tested for Covid-19.

Q: Should I be worried about getting infected with Covid-19 at Hattiesburg Clinic?

A: Hattiesburg Clinic has extensive and thorough infection control procedures, and we will do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our community. We have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and healthcare workers safe.

Q: Are patients screened for Covid-19 at their appointments?

A: Yes, when scheduling appointments, all patients are being screened for their travel, their contact with someone who has Covid-19, and for symptoms of respiratory illness. Every person who enters our clinics will go through screening.  If a patient has multiple appointments in a day, the patient will be screened only once; however, patients will have screening done each day they have an appointment. Please pay close attention to signs at the entrance of every building for additional information.

Q: Should I wear a mask in the clinic?

A: You should wear a mask in the clinic if directed to do so by staff.

Q: How is Hattiesburg Clinic working with the Mississippi State Department of Health to address this issue?

A: Hattiesburg Clinic is in constant contact with the Mississippi State Department of Health to facilitate the fastest and most efficient means of transporting tests to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. Once delivered, the tests are processed at maximum capacity and the results are then sent back via a web portal.

Thank you for trusting Hattiesburg Clinic with your care.

For additional questions about COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider or one of our various immediate care locations.

Click here for a complete listing of our departments.