Cancellations and delays

OHSU has canceled many appointments and put many services on hold for now. Check MyChart or call your clinic. Find more information on this page under "Information about OHSU and COVID-19."

Download our guide on what to do if you are sick

Preview image of flyer: What to do if you're sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

OHSU email updates

Sign up to receive email updates on COVID-19 from OHSU leaders.

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Spread the word

Help OHSU and the state of Oregon get the word out to #StayHomeSaveLives. Visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 page to find this image and other materials you can download and share in your social media networks. Click on “Stay Home, Save Lives.”

Illustration of stay home, save lives message

OHSU, Oregon’s only academic health center, is working on all fronts to protect patients, the community and OHSU employees. Here are resources to help you know what to do and where to find updates.

COVID-19 essentials

Symptoms of COVID-19, fever, cough and shortness of breath

Check your symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Coronavirus Self-Checker.

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

  • Stay home and call your primary care provider.
  • If needed, contact your county health department.
  • Do not go to any health care facility unless instructed, so you don’t spread the virus.
  • Consider an OHSU virtual visit.

If you see emergency signs, call 911 or call the Emergency Room so they can prepare for your arrival. They are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to awaken
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Other severe symptoms

Information about OHSU and COVID-19

Support of friends and family is an important part of healing for a patient. However, due to COVID-19, we have instated temporary restrictions to our visitor policy to ensure patient, visitor and staff safety.

As of March 20, 2020, OHSU will not allow hospital visitors. Some very specific exceptions include: 

One healthy person, 18 and older, per day, may stay with:

  • A child or baby
  • An adult patient with significant developmental delay or dementia
  • A patient in labor or with a new baby
  • A patient during end-of-life care

Please encourage visitors to instead connect with loved ones often over the phone or through electronic communication. Health care buildings will be secured with badge-only access and screenings in the coming days.

OHSU is working to set up testing sites. We’ll announce details as soon as they’re available. For now, testing is limited to very ill patients and to OHSU employees who are showing symptoms.

Surgeries, procedures and appointments: OHSU has stopped all surgeries, procedures and appointments that aren’t urgent. We want to make sure we have enough room and providers for COVID-19 patients. Your provider may contact you. You can also check MyChart or call your clinic.

Clinical trials: OHSU is halting visits for studies that are not medically necessary. If you are enrolled in a study, you may hear from your study team that your visits are being canceled or delayed. In some cases, a visit can be done by phone or video link. Contact your team or principal investigator if you have questions specific to your study. Those considering joining a study may be asked to delay.

Events: Many events are canceled. You should hear from organizers, or check the event listing.

Tram: The Portland Aerial Tram is open for patients but not the public. Capacity is limited to 20 people per ride to limit contact. Patient Fare Tickets and Family Fare Tickets are among those being accepted. Learn more and find alternatives.

Transportation and parking: Find detailed updates on OHSU parking, shuttles, badge access, bike valet services, ride sharing and more.

All face-to-face instruction was canceled for the last week of winter term. OHSU is preparing to shift to online instruction for the start of spring term, March 30.

OHSU has taken many steps to limit spread of the coronavirus, including activating an emergency operations center and having many employees work at home.

The OHSU Foundation has created a fund to help OHSU leaders meet urgent COVID-19 needs. Your donation will help OHSU supply our health care providers with the resources they need to care for patients and to stop the spread.

OHSU has created a Supply Task Force to help coordinate the collection of supplies to treat patients with COVID-19, including:

  • Lab testing supplies (swabs, reagent, transport media)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE; masks, gowns, face shields)
  • Sanitization supplies

If you would like to donate these supplies, please send a description and your contact information to COVID-19Supplies@ohsu.edu.

Statewide program: 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is encouraging medical and other private sector professionals to donate new masks, gowns and gloves to Oregon’s supply. The equipment will be shared statewide for COVID-19 needs. Learn what’s needed and where to drop things off.

As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread across the United States and cases have been confirmed in Oregon and at OHSU, I wanted to share with you how our university is responding to the situation and what we are doing to inhibit the transmission of the virus and slow the spread of the disease. 

With expertise in handling complex medical challenges in a rapidly changing environment, OHSU is ready to handle infectious outbreaks like COVID-19. Together with our local experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health officials, our commitment to treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 is rooted in our mission to improve the health and well-being of Oregonians. 

OHSU continuously follows best practices regarding infectious disease prevention, which allows us to respond efficiently to safely care for patients with COVID-19. Our university’s Department of Infection and Prevention Control is actively providing infection-related surveillance and guidance to our hospital and clinic staff members to help prevent infection being transmitted to patients, visitors or other employees. Our emergency operations center (EOC) is convening at least twice a day to assess the situation and respond to questions and needs in real time. 

Based on available evidence about best practices and information from widely respected sources — including our own health care experts, the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority — the following measures have been implemented to help limit the spread of the disease:

  • All OHSU-related travel not essential for patient care is restricted until further notice.
  • All gatherings of 50 people or more for in-person meetings, lectures, seminars, events and conferences shall be postponed or cancelled.
  • Telework is encouraged for all members who have the ability to do so.
  • Beginning March 16, the general public will not be permitted to ride the Tram, and the number of riders, including members and patients, will be limited to 20 at a time. 

More information on the steps OHSU is taking to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, as well as any further changes to operations, can be found at www.ohsu.edu.

We are taking action not to alarm or frighten people, but to slow the spread of the disease and minimize its effects on our most vulnerable -- including those with fragile immune systems or co-morbid conditions (i.e., diseases like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes that increase risk).  Taking these steps enhances our ability to care for those who need our services the most during this pandemic, while also supporting our other members. I believe that limiting exposure and spread is necessary to minimize strain on our people, programs and places. 

COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted in a manner similar to other respiratory viruses, so the same precautions used to limit the spread of influenza are being followed, including respiratory hygiene and cough etiquetteOHSU’s telemedicine program offers an opportunity for individuals with flu-like symptoms to connect with clinicians from home through a two-way video connection. If you have flu-like symptoms, do not go to the emergency department, urgent care or outpatient clinics; rather, remain home and call your primary care clinician. 

All individuals who are known to have been in close contact with the COVID-19 cases in Oregon are being followed by local and state health officials. If you believe you have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, please contact your county health department directly. It is our duty and responsibility to serve our community and provide the resources needed to maintain and improve the health and well-being for all Oregonians. We ask that all community members exercise sound judgment and remain calm but vigilant during this time. 

Additional information, resources and frequently asked questions on COVID-19 can be found on the CDC’s website

Sincerely yours,

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS
President
Oregon Health & Science University

Advice from OHSU experts

(Note: We've transitioned the language from "social distancing" to "physical distancing" since this was first posted. It's important to recognize that we still need human interaction and a sense of togetherness even as we maintain a safe physical distance.)

At OHSU Health, we care about your safety and the safety of our community. We’ve created a guide on physical distancing and why it’s so important during spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

What is physical distancing?

Physical distancing is when people stay apart from one another to avoid spreading disease.

That’s why events are being canceled and people are being asked to work at home. Public health officials are simply trying to keep people apart. For the new coronavirus, they recommend staying at least 6 feet from others.

What does physical distancing mean in daily life?

The most effective way to maintain physical distance is to stay home whenever possible. Limit trips out of your home to essential tasks, such as picking up food, medicines or visiting a doctor.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information including:

Find more information and guidance from OHSU.

What are we doing to encouraging physical distancing?

OHSU Health has taken many steps, including:

  • Using the telephone or internet to conduct visits with patients
  • Spacing the chairs in our waiting rooms
  • Meeting with some patients in the parking lot, if they have signs of illness
  • Requiring any employee who can work at home to do so
  • Canceling gatherings and holding meetings online

Learn more about OHSU’s response.

Why is physical distancing so important for COVID-19?

  1. Scientists believe COVID-19 spreads mostly person to person. Some people with COVID-19 may have signs of being sick and may spread the virus by coughing or sneezing on a person who is near them. But there are also many people with COVID-19 will feel perfectly well. These people may have no signs of being sick, but can still spread the virus by coming in close contact with other people. Any person we come in contact with, no matter how well they look, may be infected with COVID-19.
  2. By keeping a distance between people of at least 6 feet, we will slow the spread of COVID-19. This will lessen the number of people at any one time who are so sick that they need to be in the hospital. We are preparing to use as many beds in our hospitals as we are able for patients with COVID-19.  We want to be sure that we have enough room for all the sick patients who need care, at exactly the time they need it. “Flattening the curve” is the phrase we use to describe our hope that not all the patients who get sick with COVID-19 need to be in the hospital at the same time.  

What can OHSU Health patients expect in the next few weeks?

If you or a loved one has an appointment with an OHSU Health clinic or a scheduled procedure, you may be hearing from your care team soon. They may offer you a visit by phone or online, or may recommend rescheduling your appointment or procedure until a time when COVID-19 is no longer affecting our community in this manner. Rest assured that we care EQUALLY for the needs of all our patients, but your care team’s focus in the coming weeks will mostly be on the patients who are very sick with COVID-19. We appreciate your patience during this critical time.  

Sincerely,

Renee Edwards, M.D., M.B.A. 
Chief Medical Officer
OHSU Health

Joe Hardman, M.D., M.B.A. 
Chief Medical Officer
OHSU Tuality Healthcare

OHSU leaders ask the public to cancel all travel plans during spring break. “We urge all Oregonians to heed this call and stay home to help limit the spread of the virus across our state and beyond.” Read the full statement.

The Oregon Poison Center at OHSU wants everyone to know that there is no supplement, medication or other remedy known to prevent or treat COVID-19. The center is concerned about reports of people following bad advice on social media. Learn more.

Where to learn more

COVID-19 information

COVID-19 FAQ

Community resources

  • Call 2-1-1 from a mobile phone
  • Call 503-222-5555 from a landline
  • Email help@211.com for general information

News sources

These news organizations either have no paywall or have made some coronavirus stories available to everyone:

FAQ on the coronavirus and COVID-19

The disease: COVID-19 is the illness caused by a newly identified coronavirus. COVID stands for coronavirus disease, and 19 refers to the year it started.

The coronavirus: The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Background: Coronaviruses are part of a large group of viruses that cause illness. Some coronaviruses cause mild illness, such as the common cold. Others can cause serious illness, such as COVID-19.

Not all coronaviruses spread easily, but this one appears to be highly contagious. According to the CDC:

  • Scientists believe this coronavirus spreads mostly person to person, between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet).
  • They believe it spreads through respiratory droplets. These are the droplets sprayed into the air from a cough or sneeze. Droplets from an infected person can enter the mouth or nose of another person. It’s also possible that someone could inhale droplets into their lungs.
  • It may be possible for people to contract COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly eyes.
  • It appears to be most contagious when someone is sick. It’s possible that someone could spread the illness before they show symptoms, but this doesn’t appear to be a main way for it to spread.

See the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself page for more detailed instructions.

Clean your hands often: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and others, especially if you are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Stay home if you’re sick: Learn what to do if you are sick.

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw the tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands.

Wear a face mask if you are sick: Wear a face mask around other people and before entering a health care office. You DO NOT need a face mask unless you are caring for someone sick and they can’t wear a face mask.

Clean and disinfect: Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Download the state of Oregon’s physical-distancing guide

Small image of Stay Home, Save Lives information

The situation is rapidly changing. Find the latest updates:

In addition, the CDC says, some people are at higher risk of becoming very ill should they get COVID-19. They include:

  • Older adults
  • People with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease

Read the CDC’s recommendations for people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

According to the CDC, symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you see emergency signs, call 911 or call the Emergency Room so they can prepare for your arrival. They are:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to awaken
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Other severe symptoms

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. The CDC bases this on what’s been seen with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV. This virus was first reported in humans in 2012.

According to the World Health Organization (see “How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?”), people are showing symptoms of the coronavirus 1-14 days after exposure, with five days being the most common. The WHO notes that estimates will be updated as more data becomes available.

Precise information is not available. But according to a World Health Organization report, based on preliminary data from 55,924 confirmed cases in China:

  • Mild cases lasted about two weeks.
  • Severe cases lasted three to six weeks.
  • Patients who died had symptoms for two to eight weeks beforehand.

For now, tests are limited to very ill patients and to OHSU health care employees who have symptoms. OHSU is working to set up test sites and will announce them when they’re available.

The CDC advises the following. See the CDC’s What To Do If You Are Sick page for more detailed instructions:

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home. Stay home except for getting medical care.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you visit a medical facility. Get care if you feel worse or think it’s an emergency. (See the symptoms section above for emergency warning signs.)
  • Avoid public areas: Do not go to work, school or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Stay away from others: Stay in a specific room and away from others as much as possible. If possible, use a separate bathroom.
  • Limit contact with pets and animals.

Download our guide on what to do if you are sick

Preview image of flyer: What to do if you're sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

There is no vaccine (to prevent infection) or medication (to treat infection) yet for COVID-19. Scientists are working on both.

Vaccine

A National Institutes of Health clinical trial (testing on humans) for a potential vaccine began in Seattle on March 16. The trial is enrolling 45 healthy adult volunteers to test the vaccine.

The first step (a Phase 1 trial) will look at safety and the dose needed to trigger an immune response. Public officials have said it will take a year to 18 months of testing to make sure a potential vaccine is safe and effective.

Medication

Potential medications to treat people who have COVID-19 are in clinical trials in the U.S., China and other countries, including to test an antiviral medication called remdesivir.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee March 3 that officials should know within several months whether remdesivir works.

If it does, he said, it could become available to patients almost immediately. If it doesn’t, other potential therapies are in the pipeline, he said.

Scientists haven’t pinned down a mortality rate. Without widespread testing, the true number of cases remains unknown, making mortality-rate figures unreliable. What’s known includes:

  • Among those with COVID-19, about 80% have mild illness, about 15% have serious illness, and about 5% become critically ill, according to the World Health Organization.
  • A study to be published in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal says the portion of people infected with COVID-19 who have died is probably in the broad range of 0.25% to 3.0%.
  • The World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported a 3.4% rate worldwide as of March 3, based on reported cases at the time.
  • The risk of dying is higher in people who have other risk factors, such as being an older adult and/or having another medical condition. The CDC offers guidelines for people at higher risk.

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital offers "How to talk to your kids about COVID-19" by Dr. Linda Schmidt, director of our Child and Adolescent Psychology clinic.

Visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page, and scroll down to “COVID-19 and Children” to find links on:

  • Risk to children
  • Protecting children from infection
  • Whether symptoms are different in children
  • Whether children should wear masks

The CDC also has tips on keeping children healthy while school is out.

Flattening the curve” means to slow the spread of disease so people don’t get sick all at once and overwhelm hospitals. By slowing the spread of COVID-19, public officials can help spread out infections so hospitals have enough room, staffing and equipment for all who need it at any one time.

This is why officials have asked people to practice physical distancing — to stay home as much as possible and to stay at least 6 feet apart.

A graphical wave chart showing number of coronavirus cases over time with and without protective measures such as social distancing.

The World Health Organization posted a Q&A on March 17 on the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and the flu. They include:

Similarities:

  • Both are caused by viruses.
  • Both cause respiratory illness.
  • Both spread through droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or by touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them.

Differences:

  • A bigger portion of people with COVID-19 become seriously ill.
  • For flu, those most at risk for serious illness are children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with other medical conditions. For COVID-19, it’s people who are older and/or have another medical condition.
  • The portion of people infected with the flu who die appears to be lower than what’s being observed for COVID-19. Doctors and scientists don’t know for sure because the total number of infected people is unknown. Initial estimates show the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is about 3-4%, while the rate for flu is about 0.1%
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be more transmissible than the one for flu. A person with COVID-19 will transmit the virus to an average of 2-3 people, but direct comparisons are difficult.
  • Children are a main source of spread for flu. Initial studies suggest that children are less affected by COVID-19 and therefore not thought to be a main source of spread.
  • There are medications to treat flu and vaccines to prevent it. No medications or vaccines have been approved for COVID-19, though many possible options are in clinical trials (testing on humans).
  • Flu spreads faster. It has shorter times between exposure and symptoms (incubation period), and shorter times between one person showing symptoms and a person they infect showing symptoms (serial interval).
  • A major way flu spreads is from infected people who aren’t showing symptoms yet. Evidence is emerging that people can spread COVID-19 before they show symptoms, but it doesn’t appear to be a main way it spreads.