COVID-19 General Info & Updates

Call (800) 917-8906 before visiting any clinic. We offer 24/7 Nurse Triage and Scheduling.


Latest Updates & Information

UTMB Health has developed this website as a resource dedicated to sharing information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The site contains guidance for members of the communities served and employed by UTMB, including patients, students, our healthcare workforce and other employees. It also links to external sources for the latest information on this new disease threat. Please explore these pages to inform yourself, minimize risks and if needed, get care for COVID-19.

  • As of 2:30 p.m., July 7, 2020

    July 7, 2020, 15:08 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    This Incident Command update included information on confidential "Off Label" sessions available through RISE (Resilience in Stressful Situations), links to messages sent regarding UTMB's COVID-19 response, and COVID-19 patient and testing data as of July 7, 2020.
  • The time to act against COVID-19 is now

    July 2, 2020, 15:33 PM by Stephen Hadley
    Our region continues to see concerning increases in the number of COVID-19 cases, the percentage of tests that come back positive each day, and the number of related hospitalizations. We must ALL take action against this growth trend. Now. Click the title to read about the simple actions you can take to work together to protect you and those around you.

  • In Focus: July 1, 2020

    July 2, 2020, 15:34 PM by

    Download the video to play locally

    In this video message captured July 1, UTMB President ad interim Dr. Ben Raimer addresses the temporarily suspended search for a new UTMB president and the new wave of COVID-19 cases, while reminding folks to continue to take necessary safety precautions. He also recounts some impressive statistics relating to our care of COVID-19 patients and addresses the financial strain UTMB continues to feel as a result of this pandemic. 

UTMB: The history and future of combatting infectious diseases

1899 Medical Department heads smallpox quarantine camp on Galveston’s East BeachUTMB’s expertise in infectious diseases research and clinical care dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries, when the university took the lead in combatting such diseases as Yellow Fever and bubonic plague on the Texas Gulf Coast. By the 21st century, UTMB had built an unparalleled team of world-renowned experts in new and re-emerging diseases, from influenza to Ebola and Zika. This includes research on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of coronaviruses, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 illness.

Today, UTMB Health is home to highly trained physicians, nurses and other caregivers well-prepared to care for patients with infectious diseases. And, thanks to our unusually strong research expertise in coronaviruses and our unique facilities, UTMB is also at the forefront of the emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak and is already working to understand the disease as well as to develop vaccines and therapeutics.

UTMB Program Strengths

web-ihiiUTMB's world-class infectious disease research programs are breaking new ground in understanding the nature of infectious diseases, and are working to translate new research concepts into products aimed at controlling emerging infectious diseases and mitigating their effects on society. The programs of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity (IHII) are the hub of infectious disease research at UTMB. Read about UTMB research on COVID-19.

GNL worker The Galveston National Laboratory—one of only two National Laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to health at all levels of containment.

WRCEVA Workers The World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses, a critical resource for safely storing, identifying and distributing virus samples for use in research around the globe; the center’s most recent work has been with the novel coronavirus.

web-SIVS The Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences, conducting research on the development and use of vaccines.

A Biocontainment Care Unit, adjacent to the university’s Level I trauma center in Galveston. The unit, made possible with federal and state funding, is designed to provide the highest-level of containment and highest-quality care for patients with certain infectious diseases. While COVID-19 illness does not usually require that level of clinical containment, the BCU provides additional isolation capacity should it be needed. UTMB has six contiguous negative pressure rooms in our BCU, offering an ideal place to provide safe care if called to service. (UTMB also has standard negative pressure rooms where care can be safely provided by staff equipped with proper PPE).

COVID-19 General FAQs

FAQs

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • To keep our patients and employees safe, UTMB tests our patients for COVID-19 in advance of any procedure or hospital admission. 
  • You may also wish to check with your local county health officials for testing available through local government. In Galveston County, Health District testing information is online.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 4/29/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

External Resources