FAQ

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Help Hotline: Residents with non-health calls should call 248-858-1000

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"Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, is the disease caused by a new respiratory virus named SARS-CoV-2.

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), and 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.

There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission.

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.

People diagnosed with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness 2 to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

There is not a vaccine or specific treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms."
Everyone can get COVID-19, no matter what your age. However, individuals who are elderly, over the age of 60 or have underlying health issues are at greater risk for complications. Underlying health issues include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, COPD, and emphysema. If you are in a high-risk group, you should take extra precautions with social distancing. Grandparents should remain apart from their grandchildren at this time.

Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

Practice social distancing, keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don't live in your household.

Wear a face covering in public settings and when around people who don't live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. You may read the CDC guidance here and here. Learn how to make a cloth facemask out of a t-shirt and rubber bands (no sewing needed) in this video from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.  

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place. When soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

For more information on COVID-19 testing click here
Oakland County has set up a Help Hotline to assist residents with non-health related questions. We are happy to answer any questions or connect you with community resources such as food or housing assistance. The Help Hotline is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 Executive Town Halls

​Oakland County Executive David Coulter has conducted a series of telephone town hall meetings with more than 10,000 Oakland County residents. The questions below were answered during one of those calls. Listen to the recorded meetings here.

If you have additional questions about the coronavirus or what Oakland County is doing to prevent its spread and keep you safe and you don’t see it answered here, call (248) 858-1000 and we’ll get you the answer


It’s completely valid and understandable to feel stress and discomfort as the pandemic continues. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last. Scientists are currently working on a vaccine as well as other treatment options. In the meantime, we do know that things like handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks can limit transmission of the virus. Learning ways to cope with stress that work for you can help manage fear and anxiety. Reach out for help if you are having trouble coping. 

Although antibodies might provide some immunity to the COVID-19 virus, there's currently not enough evidence to know how long these antibodies last or whether past infection with the virus protects you from getting another infection. Studies on COVID-19 antibodies are ongoing to learn more about immunity.

Anywhere from two to 14 days although most of the cases present themselves within five to seven days. But the general guidance is, you’re not out of the woods for 14 days.
Call first before going to the doctor or the hospital emergency room to make sure they are equipped to handle your situation. You will be covered. The insurance companies are working together, waiving the co-pays.
The “CO” is for corona, “VI” is for virus and “D” is for disease. The 19 is for the year it was first discovered.
I would always refer you to your physician. They know things about you I don’t. We have fevers for a reason: to deter the virus from going in your body. You want to keep the fever in the manageable range. The best place to have that discussion is with your doctor. 

The science of the coronavirus is still evolving so what we know currently is, when someone is infected with the coronavirus, they are contagious or infectious for 10 days from when their symptoms start. Until after they are fever free for 24 hours. The infectivity, contagious period lasts for about 10 days. Now your question is specifically can someone get reinfected...that is evolving. We are basing our knowledge on right now is the idea that you cannot get reinfected for 90 days and after that 90 days, there is no guarantee about reinfection.

We are really focusing more on that face-to-face contact and respiratory transmission. I don’t want to discount the idea that a respiratory droplet could fall onto a surface and you could have infection that way. I would never want to rule that out but we are really looking the closest at respiratory transmission, person to person (face-to-face), coughing, sneezing, and talking without wearing a mask. 

The app will only work effectively if many people are using it so it’s exactly like you are explaining it. If you’re exposed to someone who is also using the app, you will get a notification on your app. But if you’re exposed to someone who hasn’t yet downloaded the app, then you won’t get any type of notifications. So, the more users we have on this app, the more effective it will be. That means that you should all use the app and we encourage all listeners to download the app and it's just another tool that we can use, if we all use it wisely. 

Something to remember about any virus is that transmission is not 100 percent guaranteed. So, you can be around someone with the cold and flu and never contract that virus and the coronavirus is the same way. All I can think in their household is that family members did a great job of not sharing eating utensils and cups and cleaning down their spaces and maybe they were even able to social distance and put themselves in different bedrooms when he was sick. If they put those measures into place, then they were very successful and I’m happy that family member did not contract the virus.

I would like everyone to feel comfortable in their testing. That if they receive a negative result, they can feel comfortable that the result is valid, if they don’t have symptoms. Now, if they are living with someone who has COVID-19 and they themselves are sympathetic, they rush to an urgent care and take a rapid test. The rapid test comes back as negative, I would really urge you to rethink and get a confirmation PCR test, it’s a molecular test that is not rapid. It takes overnight to get that result because by clinical definition-- being a close contact and developing symptoms, really makes us believe that it is a positive test, we would be expecting a positive result. 

We see so many different symptoms with COVID-19 and what you described with the body aches that come with a fever and chills, those are definite symptoms of COVID-19. We see fever, cough, shortness of breath, as the hallmark symptoms but we hear all the time about the headaches, body aches, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste and smell, general GI upset, there’s a wide range of symptoms that come with this virus. If you have any symptoms, stay home, call a physician and get some medical advice from the provider. 

COVID symptoms are different in lots of different people. I hear a lot; I talk to a lot of positive cases then just suddenly they feel terrible so that is definitely a classic sign. We just have to be very cautious. When in doubt, if you’re having symptoms and you’re thinking that maybe you could have been exposed to COVID just call Nurse On-Call to schedule for a test. 

I’ve heard a lot of people say this. If everyone is wearing a mask, then why are the numbers going up? And why do we need to do this? Well...you have to remember that the numbers that we see today reflect an infection that was a week or two weeks ago because the virus takes two to fourteen days to incubate. So, thinking about the new orders that the governor put in place, they are really recent and we might not see the effects of those in our numbers for a week or another week so the numbers are always delayed from any preventative action that we take. So, I think you’re right, we see a lot of people wearing masks when they’re out and about. But what we hear when we’re calling patients and doing our case investigations is that there are still many small gatherings taking place where people are still not wearing their mask. In the summer, when those were outdoor barbeques. The weather has pushed us indoors and neighbors and friends are still getting together in living rooms or basements across the county and they are not wearing a mask because they feel comfortable with those friends and family. So, what you see out and about is that the stores are requiring people to wear masks, but what’s happening in closed spaces in homes and private facilities is a different story.

​We are working very closely with a laboratory called Helix Labs and the Monday after Thanksgiving, Helix Labs will be launching a public spacing online portal where residents coming through our drive through site will receive a patient number and a website and you'll be able to login to the Helix public portal and check your results yourself. Those will load up in 72 hours for Helix Labs. You should be able to see them at your convenience at home. You can have a copy for yourself and look at them at a later date. If you do not have internet access, or don't have a computer, or feel comfortable with the online portal idea, we'll still give you your results through our Nurse On-Call number, which we've provided.

I would like to really defer this question to your cardiologist because your cardiologist will be able to weigh your condition and the severity of your heart condition with the risk of coming out of your home and exposing yourself with the public. You don’t want to put off major things that are needed for you. 

In general, diet and exercise are just an important part of keeping yourself healthy and keeping yourself healthy helps fight viruses and infections of all types. The key is to keep your immune system up. 

You would just hope that they’ve also put into place that their workers are also being screened for symptoms, contact, and international travel because then you would pretty much hope that she couldn’t be positive. There would be a small chance that she was positive and working on your hair for an hour and a half at less than six feet range. The masks help a ton, if both people keep them on and wear them properly. Wearing a mask covering your mouth and nose and tucking it under your chin fully so that you’re wearing it in the most protective fashion. If both people are wearing their mask the whole time, then the risk is most definitely reduced.

To go into their home, to clean it up before she gets back, it would be safe for you to do now. We don’t have a ton of data on COVID transmission on surfaces like we had talked about earlier. Just do your best to wash your hands and don’t touch your face or your eyes, that’s standard protocol everywhere you go. If you're in their house and you're cleaning up, there’s no concern that its airborne or in the air. When you're done with your straightening up, go ahead and wash your hands really well. We can’t really say, hospitals have their own policies. 

We know back in March there was so much hype about touching anything and let it sit in your garage for 72 hours before opening it and put your groceries outside and wipe them all down. As we’ve progressed through this pandemic, we’ve learned that again that type of surface transmission is not really evidence based. Again, we’re worried more about human-to-human contact and respiratory droplets. I don’t think you need to go wild disinfecting your mail and newspaper and things like that, that will help save some sanitizing wipes. It’s just the common theme of washing your hands and not touching your eyes or mouth. 

What we know from asymptomatic transmission, is that it is definitely less than someone carrying a lot of symptoms but you still need to be very cautious and not expose yourself to your family member so that you stay healthy. Your family member’s isolation period would start the date of test and last 10 days after that, if they did not have symptoms. 

It’s important to relay that information to your doctor, along with any exposure you may have had and your symptoms. You can call Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533. It may be recommended that you to isolate at home. There is also information on the County's website, OakGov.com/COVIDwith a self-monitoring guide.
It depends on your insurance. If you need assistance in getting free testing, call Nurse on Call at 1-800 848-5533. Most insurances are now covering this test and most are also waiving co-pays.
It's difficult.  If symptoms start to worsen or progress, you’re probably not dealing with an allergy but something more serious. Call your physician or Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533.
Unfortunately, no. COVID-19 is not a flu virus. However, it is still important to get your flu shot as it is possible to be infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. 

I would like everyone to feel comfortable in their testing. That if they receive a negative result, they can feel comfortable that the result is valid, if they don’t have symptoms. Now, if they are living with someone who has COVID-19 and they themselves are sympathetic, they rush to an urgent care and take a rapid test. The rapid test comes back as negative, I would really urge you to rethink and get a confirmation PCR test, it’s a molecular test that is not rapid. It takes overnight to get that result because by clinical definition-- being a close contact and developing symptoms, really makes us believe that it is a positive test, we would be expecting a positive result. 

We see so many different symptoms with COVID-19 and what you described with the body aches that come with a fever and chills, those are definite symptoms of COVID-19. We see fever, cough, shortness of breath, as the hallmark symptoms but we hear all the time about the headaches, body aches, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste and smell, general GI upset, there’s a wide range of symptoms that come with this virus. If you have any symptoms, stay home, call a physician and get some medical advice from the provider. 

COVID symptoms are different in lots of different people. I hear a lot; I talk to a lot of positive cases then just suddenly they feel terrible so that is definitely a classic sign. We just have to be very cautious. When in doubt, if you’re having symptoms and you’re thinking that maybe you could have been exposed to COVID just call Nurse On-Call to schedule for a test. 

​We are working very closely with a laboratory called Helix Labs and the Monday after Thanksgiving, Helix Labs will be launching a public spacing online portal where residents coming through our drive through site will receive a patient number and a website and you'll be able to login to the Helix public portal and check your results yourself. Those will load up in 72 hours for Helix Labs. You should be able to see them at your convenience at home. You can have a copy for yourself and look at them at a later date. If you do not have internet access, or don't have a computer, or feel comfortable with the online portal idea, we'll still give you your results through our Nurse On-Call number, which we've provided.

This is understandably concerning for many people who work in other people's homes. Calling ahead to ask how the customer is feeling is a good idea. Practice social distancing while working, which is something the customer will appreciate too. Wear a face covering, and remember to wash your hands.
Absolutely not. Now is not the time to be visiting your grandchildren in person. Young children may have the virus but show few or no symptoms yet can pass the virus onto you. Skype or facetime with them but delay the visit. Tell them you will celebrate another time.
Our preference would be that she stay somewhere else. If she is staying with you, practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away when you can. Be aware of the commonly touched surfaces and clean them often as well as washing your hands. Use separate bathrooms if you can.
It’s always an advantage to have the flu or pneumonia vaccine. If you are unsure as to what vaccines you may need, call the Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533. There is no downside to getting the vaccine.
If your pharmacy has a drive-thru window, take advantage of that. If you must go inside, stay away from others standing at the prescription counter. Call ahead and see if your pharmacy will delivery your prescriptions. Wash your hands. Don’t wait until your medications run out to get them refilled.

​Yes, absolutely! The long-term care facilities and senior living centers are part of the vaccine distribution plan. So, vaccines will be distributed to those facilities to reach their residents directly.

Meals on Wheels has a long history of providing healthy, nutritious and safe meals. It’s vitally important to maintain a healthy diet.
No. There will be no water shutoffs during this public health emergency and DTE or Consumers Energy will not shut of your power.
From the SOS website: In accordance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order, all Secretary of State offices are closed until further notice to slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect public health. Late fees will be waived during this period. Customers can complete many transactions using online services and can make an appointment for a future visit (subject to cancellation).
Consumers Energy and DTE have said there will be no shutoffs at this time. Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash has said the water will stay on. You won’t lose these services in the short-term. The long-term impact will have to be assessed. Unemployment benefits are being extended. We know the actions we in government take have a real effect on real people and their jobs. There will be further assistance. Stay tuned. Call our Help Hotline if you have an urgent non-health emergency. 248-858-1000.
Sometimes people feel helpless, but we do have the ability to slow the spread of the coronavirus if we take all precautionary measures such as social distancing and washing our hands. If you want to help, if you are feeling healthy and up to it, we’re going to need more blood in metro Detroit. Call the Red Cross and make appointment to give blood. It’s more important now than ever as more of our residents are being hospitalized.
That population is a concern and we want to make sure they are protected. We launched a Restaurant to Shelter program that is getting 700 meals to homeless shelters, so they have the food they need. We have partnered with Beans & Cornbread in Southfield and the Lafayette Market in Pontiac, who are delivering meals to locations served by the Pontiac Community Foundation. We are working with our non-profit community partners to find additional safe housing options.
It’s completely valid and understandable to feel stress and discomfort as the pandemic continues. We don’t know how long the pandemic will last. Scientists are currently working on a vaccine as well as other treatment options. In the meantime, we do know that things like handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks can limit transmission of the virus. Learning ways to cope with stress that work for you can help manage fear and anxiety. Reach out for help if you are having trouble coping. 

Although antibodies might provide some immunity to the COVID-19 virus, there's currently not enough evidence to know how long these antibodies last or whether past infection with the virus protects you from getting another infection. Studies on COVID-19 antibodies are ongoing to learn more about immunity.

​Everyone responds differently to stressful situations.  How someone reacts can depend on their background, history, social support system, health, financial situation, etc. You don't have to understand why someone is feeling stress, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, or panic to empathize with them. 

Everyone responds differently to stressful situations. How someone reacts can depend on their background, history, social support system, health, financial situation, etc. You don’t have to understand why someone is feeling stress, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, or panic to empathize with them. 

Parents should have age appropriate conversations with children and teens about changes in their lives because of COVID-19 and allow opportunities for their kids to share their feelings about the pandemic. Parents can also create a routine for their kids that allows for some flexibility. One of the best things parents can do for their kids is to model healthy coping behaviors. If a parent is worried about their child’s mental health, they can contact their primary care provider or  Oakland Schools has put together resources that may help parents navigating the pandemic with school-aged children.

You can follow these five action steps to help someone who may be having thoughts of suicide: 


  1. Ask directly if they are thinking of suicide. “Are you thinking about suicide?” “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Studies show that asking directly about suicide does not put the idea in someone’s head. 
  2. Be there for them whether it’s being physically present with them or listening over the phone. 
  3. Keep them safe. It’s important to establish immediate safety. Ensure they hadn’t taken steps to end their life before talking to you. Ask if they have a weapon they had planned to use in order to find a way to safely disable their plan. 
  4. Help them connect with resources that can help increase their safety. If you need crisis counseling, call or text Common Ground’s 24-hour helpline at 1-800-231-1127. 
  5. Follow up. Be sure to contact them after your initial conversation, and after you’ve connected them to resources. Continue to offer support on an ongoing basis, if possible. Give them local and national crisis line information. 


Unfortunately, no. COVID-19 is not a flu virus. However, it is still important to get your flu shot as it is possible to be infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. 
It’s always an advantage to have the flu or pneumonia vaccine. If you are unsure as to what vaccines you may need, call the Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533. There is no downside to getting the vaccine.
If your pharmacy has a drive-thru window, take advantage of that. If you must go inside, stay away from others standing at the prescription counter. Call ahead and see if your pharmacy will delivery your prescriptions. Wash your hands. Don’t wait until your medications run out to get them refilled.
When the Oakland County Health Division receives positive test results they are in touch with the patient and trace back all potential exposures. They provide guidance to individuals or groups of individuals that may have come in close contact with the patient. In the early days of the virus we also provided a list of potential public exposure sites. It is now evident this virus is broadly in our community, so everyone needs to follow the strict guidelines about avoiding public spaces and following the strict hygiene practices no matter where you live. In addition, if you feel sick or are experiencing the symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, stay home and contact your doctor or our Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533.
In the early days of epidemic, when the health division received a report of a positive test, they would be in touch with the patient and trace back all the potential exposures from that patient. Sometimes we publicized the places of public exposure because we couldn’t contact everybody who may have been in close contact with the patient and wanted the public to be aware. In other cases, we know all the other close contacts and there is no additional risk to the public. Now there are so many cases and it has become so widespread that our ability to contact everyone is not always possible and with the growing number of cases we need to assume it’s everywhere. Assume it’s in your workplace or community. There are no hotspots and no one community is seeing a spike more than another. We all must take these precautionary measures as seriously as we can to limit the spread of the virus.
For a complete list of county services and programs operating, contact the Oakland County hotline at 248-858-1000. The Oakland County Health Division remains open by appointment-only. Health-related questions can be answered by calling Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533.
There are points of light during this pandemic such as the individuals who continue to drop off supplies at the Oakland County Farmer’s Market, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

So far, people and businesses have dropped off: 
  • Nearly 40,000 N95 masks 
  • 20,000 surgical masks 
  • 6,000 safety glasses 
  • 65,000 pairs of gloves 
  • 2,000 face shields 
To help our residents better understand the spread of the novel coronavirus, we have launched a map of Oakland County that displays the number of cases by zip code.
We cannot explain why one community has more cases than another. We know a part of it has to do with access to testing. It can be an indication of general access to health care insurance or a true measure of what is happening in the community. No matter where you live, stay at home and take precautions to protect yourself, your family and other residents, especially if you must go out.
Please call 248-858-1000 if you have additional questions.