UC Davis Health is committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) including the latest on nasal swab and antibody testing, how COVID-19 is spread, and virus prevention. Learn more about novel coronavirus so you can better protect yourself and your family:

Novel coronavirus basics

The novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, is part of a family of viruses that our care teams are very familiar with. Coronavirus cause respiratory tract infections, including the common cold, and more serious infections like SARS. Symptoms start out like any other cold: fever, runny nose, cough and overall just feeling bad. It can progress and cause more severe illness like pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • fever
  • dry coughs
  • shortness of breath associated with respiratory illness
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • diarrhea

Sinus congestion or pain, nausea or vomiting are unlikely to be associated with COVID-19. Call your primary care provider if you experience symptoms and believe you have been in close contact with a person known to have novel coronavirus.

Learn which novel coronavirus symptoms to look for first

Evidence shows novel coronavirus is most often transmitted through droplets generated by coughs and sneezes. COVID-19 may also be transmitted when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their face, nose or mouth.

Learn more about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission

Clinical pathologists, infectious disease physicians and scientists at UC Davis Health are collaborating on new reagents (substances used for chemical analysis) and diagnostic tests for COVID-19 that can be done in-house. The health system’s Clinical Laboratory began doing its own COVID-19 tests in March. The diagnostic laboratory team started using a new, high-capacity robotic testing instrument in early April. This commercial device has the ability to perform more than 1,000 tests for the novel coronavirus per day. In two months, UC Davis Health has performed more than 10,000 molecular tests. Learn more about our COVID-19 testing process here and how the test is conducted.

See what we've learned from the blood tests of a COVID-19 patient

We don’t really know what the presence of antibodies means. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re immune to the coronavirus. Antibody blood tests, also called antibody tests, may show if you had a previous infection with the virus and could mean you potentially are immune. However, medical science has yet to determine what level of antibodies confirm immunity, if immunity is possible, or how long immunity might last. The virus that causes COVID-19 was only discovered in December 2019. The result of a positive antibody test means nothing given the current gaps in knowledge about COVID-19. Until there is more definitive information, we should assume, even with positive antibodies, that a person may still be susceptible to the coronavirus.

Common COVID-19 treatments include remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and dexamethasone. Remdesivir and convalescent plasma are used to control viral infection, and dexamethasone is used to control the immune response to infection. These drugs have often proven more successful than using a ventilator, which sometimes has made lung inflammation worse.

Learn more about novel coronavirus treatments

Yes, UC Davis Health is conducting multiple clinical trials related to novel coronavirus research. Those include an experimental treatment using the antiviral medication remdesivir for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 infection. Our research teams are also investigating the outcomes of symptomatic patients treated with the drug hydroxychloquine, as well as studying the value of antibody and blood tests for patients who had COVID-19 but showed no symptoms (known as “asymptomatic”). If you are interested in participating in a novel coronavirus clinical trial, visit the UC Davis Health Clinical Studies page.

The best way for people to protect themselves is to not be around sick people. Much is unknown about how the novel coronavirus spreads. However, coronaviruses typically are spread from person-to-person when in close contact (about 6 feet).

Learn more about COVID-19 prevention 

COVID-19 affects everyone differently. There isn't necessarily a set amount of time in which people recover from novel coronavirus. However, the CDC’s guidelines on how long to stay at home in isolation are as follows:

  • If you think or know you have COVID-19 and have symptoms, you can be with others when the following three things are all true:
    • You've gone three days with no fever;
    • Your respiratory symptoms have improved;
    • And it's been 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 but don't have symptoms, you can be with others if you continue to have no symptoms 10 days after your test.
  • If you've been around someone with COVID-19, you should stay home for 14 days after exposure, based on the time it takes to develop illness.

The CDC notes that in the first two cases, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you are tested, you can be around others after you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart. For mild cases (outpatients), about two-thirds of people return to their baseline level of health within 2 to 3 weeks. It often takes longer to recover for patients with more severe disease who required hospitalization.

Learn more about COVID-19 recovery at home

COVID-19 and children

UC Davis Children’s Hospital, which is part of the Pediatric Emergency Research Networks, is one of the sites for a global study about COVID-19 in children. Pediatric experts are focusing on the risk factors that may lead to more serious forms of the disease, including a condition the CDC is now calling “multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.”

This form of COVID-19 has been compared to toxic shock syndrome and to a very uncommon childhood illness called Kawasaki disease. It was described as “Kawasaki-like” in a recent article in the journal The Lancet. Physicians say the new syndrome seems to affect the heart more frequently than typical Kawasaki disease and has been identified mainly in school-aged children rather than infants or toddlers.

Fortunately, our children’s hospital has only seen a few pediatric COVID-19 cases. None of them have been as severe as what other parts of the country and world have seen.

Since May 2020, the CDC has been tracking multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children. It is a rare but serious condition that can be life-threatening and require hospitalization, according to the California Department of Public Health. Some children developed MIS-C after being diagnosed with COVID-19 or after coming into contact with someone who had COVID-19.

According to the CDC, most cases are in children between the ages of 1 and 14 years. Children typically developed MIS-C 2-4 weeks after being infected with COVID-19. Symptoms of MIS-C include:

  • fever that doesn't go away
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • neck pain
  • rash
  • bloodshot eyes
  • feeling tired

Contact your child's physician immediately if your child has these symptoms.

Your health and medical care

If you are sick with any kind of infectious disease, you should isolate yourself away from others, and take steps to avoid sharing the disease with other people or pets.

Learn more about COVID-19 recovery at home

If you need to go to the hospital because you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital immediately. If you have symptoms that are difficult to manage, but not that serious, call your primary care provider or seek urgent care.

If you have symptoms that seem like a common cold, but aren’t that serious, isolate yourself, treat it at home, and try not to share the infection with others.

Note: Some people are considered at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC. Some of these groups include people over age 65, and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, or cancer treatment. The CDC currently advises higher-risk groups to:

  • Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
  • Have a plan for if you get sick, and
  • Call your health care provider if you do get sick

The CDC also posts specific information about other populations who need extra precautions, such as pregnant women and racial and ethnic minority groups.

If your symptoms or your medical condition are serious enough that you need medical assistance in managing your condition, then you should call your doctor, health care provider, advice nurse, or other health care professional. 

Note: Some people are considered at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC. Some of these groups include people over age 65, and also people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, or cancer treatment. The CDC currently advises higher-risk groups to:

  • Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
  • Have a plan for if you get sick, and
  • Call your health care provider if you do get sick

The CDC also posts specific information about pregnant people.

Learn how to make your appointment a video visit.

Don't delay care. A message from the UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine

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Yes, please don't delay care. As in any hospital, there are many infection control and management measures in place at all times. We manage infectious disease, like novel coronavirus, every day in the hospital. We are here to care for everyone and to make sure everyone gets excellent care.

Visitors at UC Davis Medical Center:
Currently, we are restricting visitors within UC Davis Medical Center in order to help keep the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) out of the hospital. Read more about our visitor restrictions.

To help support social distancing, we are asking all patients to consider replacing in-person appointments with video appointments through the MyUCDavisHealth app, both for flu-like symptoms and regular topics of concern. These could include your visits pre- and post-procedure.

We are screening new appointment requests to identify patients with cold/flu-like symptoms and converting those to video visits whenever possible. If your appointment for care can wait, we may ask you to reschedule to a future date when it’s safer to see you in person.

We are asking about cold/flu-like symptoms in our appointment reminders, so we can switch to a video visit or make special arrangements to receive patients with symptoms.

To limit the spread of coronavirus, we are limiting the number of caregivers who can accompany patients during appointments at our clinic and medical office locations. Learn more about our caregiver policy for outpatient clinics.

When people do visit us in person, we’re asking everyone questions as they enter the building. We’re screening for symptoms at entrances to all of our clinical locations, including our hospital, our outpatient centers, and our medical offices.

We are asking patients with symptoms of sickness to wear a mask in order to protect others. Care staff who assist these patients also wear protective equipment and use special procedures when needed to limit contact with other staff and patients (but not always – our infectious disease experts advise us when it’s necessary).

Read more about how we’re working to protect your safety — and how you can help

Our care teams are handling novel coronavirus cases in much the same way we manage other diseases that require safety precautions and monitoring. We are in constant communication with the CDC, California Department of Public Health and Sacramento County Public Health about managing potential cases.

The information we receive includes best clinical practices for enabling clinicians, as well as patients and the public, to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Every person entering our care facilities is screened daily and required to report whether they have, or have recently experienced, specific kinds of symptoms. This is one of many ways we are making sure our health care workers are well and ready to carefully care for you.

Any employee with illness symptoms is expected to stay home until they are no longer contagious. It is in everyone’s interest to keep our workforce as safe and healthy as our patients.