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Think You Might Have Coronavirus? Here’s What To Do

It can be confusing to figure out what to do if you think you're ill. This roundup of information from the experts can help.

Feeling sick? Call before showing up to the ER with COVID-19 symptoms, experts say.
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LOGAN SQUARE — Illinois has more than 316,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but it can be confusing to figure out what to do if you think you’re ill.

Block Club has rounded up information on what symptoms to look out for and who to call if you think you or someone you know is sick.

As always, you should talk to a doctor; don’t just listen to us. But remember to call ahead and not just drop in if you think you’re ill.

Here’s what you need to know:


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19:

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

But not everyone shows symptoms of the virus.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Illinois allows anyone to get tested without a doctor’s order.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home and try to stay apart from family members and roommates.

You should only go to an emergency facility if you have symptoms of severe illness, and you should still call ahead to let them know you’re coming, according to Harvard Medical School.

How To Get Tested

Here’s where you can get tested in Chicago.

When It’s An Emergency

According to the CDC and Harvard Medical School, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Have a persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • Become confused
  • Cannot be roused or feel like you might pass out
  • Develop a bluish face or lips
  • Have a very high or very low body temperature

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the CDC. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Those who do becoming ill with COVID-19 might still be contagious even weeks after they’ve recovered, according to Harvard Medical School.

Who To Call

  • If you think you are sick, call your doctor or health care facility before going in.
  • If you have questions, call the Chicago Department of Public Health at 312-746-4835.
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health can also answer questions at 800-889-3931.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Here’s a guide for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Click here to find out how to properly wear a face covering.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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