COVID-19: What you need to know

The spread of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has gained global attention. Information about COVID-19 has continued to evolve since authorities reported the first case in Wuhan, the largest city in central China, late last year.

Scientists, health officials, and medical professionals around the world are working at unprecedented speed to help halt the spread of COVID-19.

Let WVU Medicine be your guide and resource for information about COVID-19. We are prepared to provide the most appropriate level of care for our community, state, and region. We want to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.

WVU Medicine has experience with handling infectious diseases and infection control of viruses, like COVID-19. Our infection prevention teams are working in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and local health authorities to provide information and implement policies intended to ensure the continued health and safety of our community.

Currently, West Virginia has no cases of COVID-19. View the latest information from the CDC on states reporting cases.

Most West Virginians are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19 at this time, and the immediate health risk is low. However, according to the CDC, due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families and businesses to prepare now for potential community spread.

Health officials say the best steps to avoid contracting COVID-19 are to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Lather for at least 20 seconds every time. If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or the bend of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Use the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use.
  • Avoid contact with sick or affected individuals.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched, such as your mobile phone.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

To access a downloadable file of a WV Metro News Talkline interview with Matthew Simmons, MD, of WVU Medicine Infectious Diseases, operated by Berkeley Medical Center, click here. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a recording of a recent webinar called “What Clinicians Need to Know to prepare for COVID-19 in the United States,” which is accessible here.

What to do if you are sick

Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact.

Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital has established a phone number for patients to call if they have respiratory or flu-like illness that they believe could be related to COVID-19. Patients can call 304-598-6000, option 4 to speak with a staff member.

If you are unsure whether or not you should be seen, please call your local health department for guidance. You can also visit the CDC website for assistance.

West Virginia hotline

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has launched an informational hotline to address public and medical provider questions and concerns regarding COVID-19. The toll-free hotline – 1-800-887-4304 – is available 24/7 to provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public, and the state's response. 

Hospital visitation policy

Because the safety of our patients and caregivers is our highest priority, WVU Medicine has implemented restricted visitation policies for all member hospitals in an effort to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

If your local hospital is not a WVU Medicine member hospital, sure to check with any local facility for other visitation policy details before making a visit.

COVID-19 resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

West Virginia University: