Anyone who is concerned they might have coronavirus should call first, not just show up at an doctor's office, urgent care center or emergency department, health experts say.
The precaution is to avoid potentially infecting staff and patients and to keep from interrupting lifesaving care staff are already busy giving for other conditions.
"If someone has traveled to an area where an outbreak is occurring and believes they may have COVID-19, we are asking them to call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to allow us to coordinate their arrival at a medical facility, whether a hospital, doctor’s office, need for EMS, etc.," Pennsylvania Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said.
In a teleconference Wednesday, hospital leaders in the state said questions from the community have risen notably in recent days.
Dr. P.J. Brennan, an infectious disease doctor and chief medical officer of Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, said especially with flu still widespread there's not a lot of slack in emergency rooms or hospitals.
Penn Medicine hospitals have had more than 20 patients come in that through triage were deemed high enough risk to initially put in masks and isolation rooms, Brennan said. He noted that none were tested, as further questioning showed reason not to, such as symptoms starting after the virus incubation period would have ended for returning travelers.
No cases of the virus have been confirmed in Pennsylvania to date.