Important Information about COVID-19

March 3, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle encouraged Americans to get reliable, accurate information about the coronavirus outbreak and how to protect themselves.

“The health and wellbeing of Pittsburghers is my top priority, especially right now with the spread of this potentially deadly virus,” Congressman Doyle said. “I hope folks in our community will take time to learn more about how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy. The Centers for Disease Control has specific recommendations to contain this virus, and I would urge everyone to read them.”

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus and links to government resources that can provide you with accurate, reliable information about the COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it.

How do you know whether you have COVID-19?

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath—these symptoms may show up 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have these symptoms, or you think you have may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Most of the people who contract this coronavirus experience only mild flu-like symptoms, but it can be deadly.

What should you do if you think you might have COVID-19?

If you have these symptoms or you think you might have been exposed to the virus, you should contact a healthcare provider immediately. If you don’t have a primary health care provider or know whom to call, contact the Allegheny County Health Department. You can call the 24-hour hotline that the County has set up at 888-856-2774 or can send them a message on their web site at

Please DON’T go to a doctor’s office or hospital emergency room without calling ahead and finding out how, when, and where to see that health care provider.

How do you get tested for the coronavirus?

Due to a shortage in testing kits, tests have been reserved for individuals showing symptoms. If you have fever, cough, and shortness of breath - or you think you might have been exposed to the virus - you should contact a healthcare provider immediately. Please do not go to a doctor’s office or hospital emergency room without calling ahead.

What treatments are available?

People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home without professional treatment - but if you have or develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

How can you prevent getting COVID-19? 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not know yet exactly how COVID-19 is spread, but it is thought to spread through close person-to-person contact, coughing or sneezing, or contact with infected surfaces

While the National institutes of Health have started working to develop a vaccine for this disease, there is currently no vaccine against COVID-19. Consequently, the CDC says that the best way to prevent getting sick with the coronavirus is to avoid exposure to it.

The CDC recommends taking the following preventative actions:

  • Practice "social distancing" - avoiding crowded places and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick. The CDC recommends that individuals remain home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (i.e., chills, feeling warm, flushed appearance).
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website

How long is this going to go on? How long do you need to stay in my home?

As this virus spreads rapidly, it is important that we all practice social distancing to "flatten the curve" of Americans infected with COVID-19. Unfortunately, health professionals do not have a timeline for this process, but it is anticipated that the more we practice social distancing now, the better we will be. Therefore, it is advised that you continue to stay home if possible and practice social distancing until further notice.

Rumors versus Reality

There is a lot of misinformation and speculation about COVID-19 circulating right now. The CDC has a web page devoted to addressing some of the most common claims and concerns about this virus -- click here to view that CDC web page.

Coronavirus-Related Discrimination

Asian Americans have been the victims of stigma and discrimination linked to the origin of COVID-19 in China. This is completely unsubstantiated, according to the CDC, which says that being Chinese or Asian American does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. 

People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently traveled to China or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.

People who have returned from China more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.

More Information

Congressman Doyle’s office will continue to update this page with information about COVID-19 as it becomes available.