COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A person wearing a face mask and a T-shirt stands with one sleeve rolled up to show a Band-Aid where they were vaccinated.

Price change for COVID vaccines and tests

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended on May 11, 2023. COVID vaccines and tests may no longer be free of cost to you. Check with your health plan to see what they cover. OHSU will bill you for what your insurance doesn’t pay. Vaccines will still be free for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program.

OHSU works on all fronts to care for patients, contribute to research, and protect people from COVID-19.

  • We are the only Oregon hospital that offers remdesivir to treat COVID-19 without a hospital stay.
  • Our long COVID-19 program treats adults and children, and trains community providers to care for this condition.
  • We are your resource for COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and tests.

OHSU mask policy

OHSU requires masks for ages 2 and older:

  • In areas where patients and staff are at greatest risk.
  • By patient request.
  • Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

See where masks are required.

OHSU respects all who choose to wear masks, at any time and in any setting. The reasons to wear a mask may be very personal. We expect all OHSU members, patients and visitors to respect this choice.

OHSU strongly recommends mask-wearing throughout our health care system, including at OHSU hospitals and clinics, Hillsboro Medical Center and Adventist Health Portland. OHSU highly recommends all patients wear masks when outside their room.

OHSU staff will wear masks if asked to do so by patients or family members, and are expected to ask about your masking preference. Please let us know at any time if you would like us to wear masks.

Understanding COVID-19

In January 2020, the World Health Organization reported a new virus, SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Coronaviruses are part of a large group of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause mild illness, such as the common cold. Others can cause serious illness.

SARS-CoV-2 causes the illness called COVID-19. The WHO declared a COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the worldwide spread of a new illness, on March 11, 2020.

You are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if you:

You can lower your risk of getting COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses by getting vaccinated and avoiding the three C’s: crowded places, closed spaces and close conversation.

COVID-19 emergencies

On April 11, 2023, the Biden administration ended the national emergency declared in 2020. The public health emergency also declared in 2020 ended May 11, 2023. These decisions affect many areas of health care. OHSU will share more information as it becomes available.

Learn more about how the end of the COVID-19 emergencies will affect health care costs.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. They can include:

  • Cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Sore throat, congestion or runny nose
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle or body aches or headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell

Studies show that people are contagious starting two to three days before they have symptoms of COVID-19. On average, people are no longer contagious about a week after symptoms start. Some people may not have any symptoms.

If you have mild or moderate symptoms, stay home except to get medical care.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Take over-the-counter medicines, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever.
  • Stay away from others in your home as much as possible. If you must be near others, wear a mask.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If they get worse, contact a health care professional for advice. You can get advice virtually or in person through OHSU’s Immediate Care services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for staying away from others.

You have long COVID-19 if you still have symptoms at least a month after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Studies show that long COVID-19 affects about 25% of people who get COVID-19. We can’t predict who will have long COVID-19 or how long it will last. Everyone who gets COVID-19 is at risk, including children and people who had mild cases or no symptoms when they tested positive.

Symptoms of long COVID-19 vary widely and can affect almost every organ system. They include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Emotional challenges
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain or discomfort
  • Heart issues
  • Digestive symptoms
  • Nerve pain

Long COVID-19 that greatly limits a person's daily life can be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Learn more:

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

OHSU experts encourage everyone who is eligible, including pregnant people and children 6 months and older, to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health officials recommend getting vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID-19 because:

  • It's possible to get infected again, risking serious illness. 
  • Some people don’t develop immunity after infection, studies show.
  • Studies suggest that vaccines provide better, longer protection than infection.

It’s safe to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time.

When to get a vaccine or booster

Research shows that protection against COVID-19 from vaccines, boosters and natural immunity (a previous infection) can last several months.

If you have had COVID-19 symptoms, wait until:

  • It’s been at least 10 days since your symptoms appeared.
  • You’ve had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medication.
  • Other symptoms are improving (not including loss of taste or smell, which can last weeks or months).

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms: Wait at least 10 days after your positive test.

If you were treated with Paxlovid: Wait until you are well and no longer contagious.

If you were treated with remdesivir: Wait 90 days.

COVID-19 treatments

We offer care and medications to manage COVID-19 symptoms.

Treatments are not substitutes for vaccination. They can be used only for certain people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Paxlovid treats mild to moderate COVID-19 by stopping the virus from making copies of itself. Treatment is most effective early, and must start within five days of first symptoms.

Patients take three tablets twice a day for five days — 30 pills in all. In clinical trials, Paxlovid greatly reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.

To qualify for Paxlovid treatment, you must:

  • Be age 12 or older.
  • Weigh at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds).
  • Be at high risk of severe illness.
  • Have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 that do not require hospital care.
  • Have symptoms that started less than five days before.

Paxlovid is not recommended for those with severe kidney or liver disease or for people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).

Paxlovid can cause complications for people who take heart-related medications, including blood thinners and some drugs that lower cholesterol (statins). It's best to talk with your doctor about possible interactions. You can pause using some drugs safely during Paxlovid treatment.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medication. The FDA has approved remdesivir for people who have mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 and are at high risk of developing severe illness. It seems most effective early in an infection, when the disease is mild.

OHSU is the only hospital in Oregon that offers remdesivir to people who aren’t in the hospital.

To get remdesivir if you are not in a hospital, you must:

  • Have started having COVID symptoms in the prior seven days
  • Be at high risk for serious illness
  • Be unable to take Paxlovid for COVID because you:
    • Take other medications that would conflict with Paxlovid and cannot be adjusted
    • Have kidneys that don’t work well

In a 2021 study, unvaccinated people who got remdesivir had an 87% lower risk of being admitted to the hospital or dying than people who got a placebo.

Remdesivir is given as an injection three days in a row. After each dose, you need to stay at least one hour in case you have a strong reaction. Side effects can include nausea or liver inflammation.

Lagevrio is an antiviral medication that treats mild to moderate COVID-19. Treatment must start within five days after symptoms begin. It is most effective early.

You qualify for treatment with Lagevrio if you:

  • Are 18 or older
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Are at high risk of serious illness
  • Are not in the hospital
  • Have symptoms that started less than five days before
  • Are not recommended for or are not able to get other COVID-19 treatments

Patients take four capsules every 12 hours for five days — a total of 40 pills. In clinical trials, Lagevrio reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.

COVID-19 tests

Testing for COVID-19 and sharing test results keep our communities safer by helping public health teams understand where and how fast COVID-19 is spreading.

The National Institutes of Health has set up a website,, where you can report your test result without using your name.

There are two types of tests: viral tests and antibody tests.

To find out if you are infected, you need a viral test. Viral tests detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

There are two types of viral tests:

  • Rapid antigen tests look for antigens (proteins) related to the coronavirus. Rapid tests are fast and easy to use. Self-tests can be used at home. They are more likely to give false negative results, especially if you don’t have any symptoms.
  • Laboratory PCR tests look for genetic material from the virus. They take longer to produce results and must be done by a clinic or pharmacy. They are more accurate than rapid tests.

Learn more:

At-home tests are widely available. Households can order one set of four free at-home tests from If you buy at-home tests and have health insurance, check with your insurer to see if they cover the cost.

Find a testing site near you with the CDC’s test locator.

Find testing for OHSU employees.

The CDC recommends that you get tested if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Come in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • If you are fully vaccinated, isolate yourself and get tested 5 to 7 days after exposure.
    • If you are unvaccinated, get tested right away. Isolate yourself and get tested again 5 to 7 days after exposure.
  • Are in some high-risk settings where testing is required.
  • Are in a community where COVID-19 is spreading (see a CDC map).

If you use an at-home rapid antigen test and get a negative result, the FDA recommends that:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you test again at least 2 times over 3 days, waiting at least 48 hours between each test.
  • If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you test again at least 3 times over 5 days, waiting at least 48 hours between each test.

Data shows that repeating tests after a negative result increases the chance of an accurate result. That can help keep people from spreading the virus without realizing it.

Learn more: When to Get Tested for COVID-19, CDC

Quick links

Emergency care for COVID-19

Get care right away for severe symptoms, including:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to awaken or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Learn more about when to go to the ER.

More information