What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (an abbreviation for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2).

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people.

According to the CDC and WHO, people at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 include adults over 60 and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, chronic kidney disease, COPD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, sickle cell disease, and people with compromised immune systems. See below under the question "Who is at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19?" for more information about risk factors.


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported — ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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

This list does not include all possible symptoms. For more about COVID-19 symptoms and to access a self-checker tool, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Symptoms of Coronavirus page.

COVID-19 Testing for Michigan Medicine Patients

If You Think You Have COVID-19

If you would like to be evaluated for COVID-19, see the options below. Please note: Stay at home and away from others if you are sick. In many cases, COVID-19 can be managed without emergency care.

For Patients: There are three options for established Michigan Medicine patients who want to be evaluated for COVID.

  1. Schedule a Virtual Care Visit: Submit an E-Visit or Urgent Care Video Visit request for prompt evaluation for COVID-19. Visit our Virtual Care page or log in to the MyUofMHealth patient portal to get started.
  2. Call the COVID-19 Hotline for Patients: The hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 days a week, to answer COVID-19 questions. Call 734-763-6336 to reach the hotline.
  3. Contact Your Primary Care Provider: If you are an established patient of a Michigan Medicine primary care provider, contact your clinic with questions or to be evaluated for COVID-19. Find your doctor using our Find a Doctor tool, or search by location.

If you are not a Michigan Medicine patient and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact the State of Michigan Coronavirus Hotline at 888-535-6136.

If you test positive for COVID-19 at a non-U-M testing provider, please notify your Michigan Medicine provider through the MyUofMHealth patient portal or by calling your clinic.

For Employees: Call the COVID-19 Hotline for Employees. U-M Occupational Health Services has established a COVID-19 hotline for Michigan Medicine employees. Call 734-764-8021 to reach U-M Occupational Health.


Michigan Medicine researchers are using their expertise to advance what doctors and scientists know about how to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19.  We are currently conducting a number of clinical studies related to COVID-19. To learn more about COVID-19 studies, visit the list of coronavirus studies on

More Coronavirus (COVID-19) Questions & Answers

Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?

In Michigan, we are seeing community spread of COVID-19, which means that there is some risk of exposure for everyone. 

Exposure risk is higher for:

  • Those who have prolonged close contact with someone who has COVID-19, and are not wearing appropriate protective equipment.
  • Elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe illness.

You can lower your risk of exposure by practicing social distancing including staying at least 6 feet away from people, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when in public, limiting contact with large groups of people, and washing your hands frequently.

Who is at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19?

According to the CDC and WHO, people at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 include adults over 60 and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sickle cell disease
  • People with compromised immune systems

People with compromised immune systems include those:

  • With primary or acquired immunodeficiency
  • On anti-rejection therapy following organ or bone marrow transplant
  • On biologic therapeutic agents
  • With malignant cancers or receiving or who have recently received chemotherapy
  • Receiving systemic immunosuppressive therapy, including corticosteroids equivalent to 20 mg a day of prednisone for 2 weeks or longer

If you are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, watch closely for symptoms and emergency warning signs. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

Get medical attention immediately if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, including:

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

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

Visit our COVID-19 Patient-Specific Guidelines page to view or download information for patients with specific conditions or who are being treated at certain Michigan Medicine clinics. This page will be updated as we continue to learn more about the disease.

Should I be worried about the new multi-system inflammatory syndrome being reported in children and adolescents?

Cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), formerly referred to as pediatric multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome or PMIS, have been reported in parts of the U.S. and Europe. 

Experts suspect that in children with multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome, the virus may trigger the immune system to overreact and cause widespread inflammation throughout the body.

Read more about the new syndrome here.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says health experts are still learning about how this new coronavirus spreads. It is thought that the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets in the air caused by coughing, sneezing or talking
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)

What steps can I take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or flu?

If you are ill, stay home and rest. Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that by covering your mouth and nose, you’re significantly lowering the chances of spreading infection through small droplets that come out of your mouth when you talk, sneeze and cough. Visit our Mask-Wearing to Prevent COVID-19 page for more about the why, who, and how of mask-wearing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. (Watch the video: "Wash Your Hands: Fight Germs with the University of Michigan Fight Song" for a "Go-Blue" approved demonstration of how to do this.)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and anyone outside your household, whether they appear to be sick or not. Some people may carry the virus but may not show many symptoms.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine.

Other COVID-19 resources

For information about COVID-19 specific to the state of Michigan, visit the State of Michigan COVID-19 website. To find a COVID-19 testing location, visit the COVID-19 Test Finder page on the website.

For more up-to-date medical information about COVID-19, including what to do if you're sick, symptoms, data, and more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 website.