Prevention, Preparedness and Social Distancing

I’m NOT Sick. What Should I Do?

COVID-19 is a brand-new illness in people, and we’re learning more about it all the time. Growing evidence shows that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be spread by people who don’t have any symptoms. And experience in other countries has shown that the number of cases can increase very quickly, sometimes to the point of overwhelming hospitals. That’s why “social distancing” is so important—even for people who feel fine.

If you’re not currently sick, that’s great! Here are some do’s and don’ts to help keep you and those around you healthy:


To prevent the rapid spread of the virus & help families & communities adapt to a quickly changing situation, follow these recommendations


Keep updated on what is happening in your community, workplace, school district, faith organization, etc.


Proper hand washing, not touching your face, cleaning surfaces, staying home if you are sick, etc., are all important steps to take


  • Keep 2 weeks of food, medicines, and other essentials.
  • Collect contact information for family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Make plans for disruptions to your daily schedule. (ex: school or childcare closures)
  • Make sure you know where to go for care if a member of your household becomes sick.


Stay home if you can, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, stay 6 feet away from other individuals and cooperate with closures in your community

Information provided by UTMB's Department of Preventive Medicine and Population Health



  • DO practice “social distancing” to help slow the spread of COVID-19
    • Avoid meetings and events of more than 10 people.
    • Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between you and people who are not part of your household.
    • Telecommute if your employer offers and recommends this option to you.
    • Avoid all unnecessary travel, both domestically and internationally.
    • Explore options for grocery and restaurant delivery (or curbside pickup).
    • Comply with any visitation restrictions at local clinics and hospitals.
  • DO avoid people who are sick.
  • DO wash your hands often, using soap and water, lathering all areas of your hands (including between fingers and under your fingernails) for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
  • DO keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • DO clean and disinfect surfaces at home and work (including door handles, buttons, remotes, phones, keyboards, countertops, etc.) at least daily.
  • DO eat a balanced diet and get adequate sleep.
  • DO get your flu shot, if you haven’t already. (Flu is still circulating in our area.)
  • DO keep updated on what is happening in your community and follow the directions from public health experts and your local officials.


  • DON’T assume you do not have the virus because you are not ill; you could spread it without knowing you have it.
  • DON’T dismiss the importance of social distancing to prevent a rapid spike in the number of COVID-19 cases needing medical care.
  • DON’T touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • DON’T forget to wash your hands. A lot.
  • DON’T share towels, plates, glasses/cups or utensils.
  • DON’T expect to be tested for COVID-19 if you don’t have symptoms. At this time, testing capacity is still limited, and tests must be reserved for those who are high risk, or are severely ill and need hospitalization.
  • DON’T leave home if you do develop symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, shortness of breath and/or fever of 100.4F or greater, unless you need medical care.
  • If you develop respiratory symptoms, DON’T arrive at your doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency department without calling first, so they can prepare to meet your needs while keeping others safe.

COVID-19 General 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

To ensure adequate COVID-19 testing capacity for patients with medical need, UTMB Health will use the following process to determine when to test for COVID-19. This process is consistent with guidance from the local health authority and Texas Department of State Health Services.

  • 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. (Please note that patients with mild symptoms and no underlying risk factors may be advised to manage their symptoms at home.)
  • Once a patient arrives at the recommended location, they will be seen by a provider and likely given a flu test. (Colds and flu are still circulating widely in our region, so they first need to be ruled out as a cause of symptoms.)
  • If the flu test is positive, the patient will be treated for flu as appropriate.
  • If the flu test is negative, the provider will recommend whether a COVID-19 test is warranted, based on the most current guidance from health authorities.
  • 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.
  • Patients who do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection will not be tested for COVID-19 at this time. This is to ensure we maintain adequate testing capacity for patients who have medical need. It also reduces the risk of a false negative result in a patient who may have been exposed to the virus but does not yet have enough virus in their system to cause symptoms and to show up on the test.

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

Last modified on 3/15/2020

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