Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

COVID-19 in our Community

How can we slow or stop COVID-19 (C19) in Truckee/Lake Tahoe?
We believe that our success going forward will solely depend on how fully and carefully every resident and visitor to our community follows public health directives, including wearing face masks and practicing proper physical distancing. If local residents and visitors don’t follow this advice, it is unknown how high the percentage of infection rate could elevate in our community.

What are the best prevention practices for COVID-19? 
Wearing a mask, hand washing, and maintaining physical distance of at least six feet is critical. Using good health practices, including mental and physical wellness, following a healthy diet, and drinking healthy fluids are important prevention techniques. If our community is successful with these safety practices, we can significantly slow the spread of the C19 virus.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?
Free COVID-19 testing is now available through an independent company in Truckee at the Old Gateway Center at 10990 Donner Pass Road. Testing is free to all, and it is not necessary to have symptoms of COVID-19 in order to receive a test. Anyone in a public-facing job, headed back to work, at a higher risk, or just concerned about COVID-19 exposure is encouraged to get tested. Pre-registration is required and can be done at http://www.lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123.

Please note: The testing location is run by an independent company, not Tahoe Forest Health System. Please direct all inquiries to 888-634-1123 or visit http://www.lhi.care/covidtesting for more information.

What is the Truckee/North Lake Tahoe infection rate?  
The number of positive test cases is increasing daily in our region. In April, the local infection rate was estimated to be approximately 0.2% of the population, which was roughly six times higher than the rest of the State of California. We believe there will be a tremendous surge in hospital activity if we go from where we are now (0.2%) to a 1% infection rate. We are, again, stressing the importance of following a disciplined, healthy lifestyle, including wearing a mask and social distancing of at least 6 feet when in public.

Should I wear a mask?
Yes! Coronavirus spreads when an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs within 6 feet of others. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing and shows you care about the health of others. The State of California now requires masks to be worn in public, except by children under 2 years old and people with certain medical conditions or disabilities. Read the official State of California mask guidance here.

Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. Learn more about the CDC's recommendations, as well as find simple instructions for sewn and no-sew face coverings. As a reminder, don’t wear your mask under your nose or just on your chin - a mask is only effective if it covers both ways you breathe.

What is happening on the front lines at Tahoe Forest Hospital?
Local healthcare workers are putting in strenuous hours and taking personal risks of infection in order to help our local community. A handful of the 1,000+ employees of Tahoe Forest Health System (TFHS) have tested positive for C19. While the TFHS team is putting everything on the line, it's also very common for healthcare workers to become ill. Those who have tested positive for C19 are self-quarantined at home, and every employee is screened daily for symptoms at the beginning of each shift. 

What should I do if I get sick or hurt with something other than COVID-19? 
TFHS has restrictions on patients coming to any of its physician offices unless there is an urgent medical condition. If there is a medical issue that can’t wait and is not COVID-19 related, call to schedule an urgent provider office visit at (530) 582-6205. If you are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call the Tahoe Forest Health System COVID-19 Hotline at (530) 582-3450. 

How is Tahoe Forest preparing for a surge of patients, and how many ventilators do you have?  
TFHS currently has nine ventilators. Tahoe Forest Hospital and Incline Village Community Hospital are both prepared  to care for patients who are positive, or who are being ruled-out for a positive case of COVID-19.

What is the overflow plan if the hospital runs out of beds?  
TFHS is working with county and state officials and other sources to establish alternate care sites with equipment and staffing support in case there is a surge of patients.

How can I show appreciation or donate food, masks, or dollars to Tahoe Forest Health System?  
TFHS is very grateful for the many generous and thoughtful donations we’ve received, including food, masks, and monetary contributions to our Emergency Response Fund. The financial contributions will assist with the purchase of equipment and supplies, such as the COVID-19 Clinic and hospital units, and will help cover the cost of emergency staffing and other targeted areas of need that are unfunded mandates to respond to the COVID crisis. For information on how to donate money or other items, please visit our How to Help page or contact the TFHS Foundation office at foundation@tfhd.com.

Who does the hospital serve?  
TFHS serves residents and visitors in four counties (Nevada, Placer, Washoe, El Dorado) and two states, California and Nevada.  

What is the hospital doing to ensure patient safety?  
Your health is our number one priority. We are screening all patients on arrival and requiring masks and social distancing inside our facilities. So if you do need to visit us, you can be assured our strict safety protocols will keep you safe. We have implemented telemedicine services with many of our clinical providers, and we offer curbside pick-up for prescriptions at our Pharmacy in Truckee. This is not a complete list of our many precautions; there are many more. Our hospitals, clinics, and outpatient services are SAFE and OPEN. Please do not delay seeking treatment for urgent medical concerns.

What is the hospital doing to protect its employees?  
Protecting our valued employees is a top priority for TFHS. We are screening every employee, every day before each shift, for C19. All employees are required to wear a protective mask and practice social distancing in their work areas. We have established a special employee-only hotline for symptom questions or concerns, as well as emotional support services for employees to engage in. We are delivering food to employees who are working, and employees not directly involved in patient care are working remotely. There are many other activities in place to address employee and patient safety, and this is partial list.  

Where can I follow Tahoe Forest Health System news about COVID-19?  
We have established a COVID-19 section on our website that includes the latest COVID-19 infection statistics and many other resources, including county and state website addresses, safety and prevention information, visitor and donation information and more.  

General Information About COVID-19

What is a coronavirus? 
Coronaviruses are members of the coronavirus family of viruses — one of the many families that include viruses able to infect people and animals. Seven members of the coronavirus family can make people ill, one of which is the new coronavirus strain SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. 

What is COVID-19? 
COVID-19 refers to the human infection caused by the new coronavirus strain SARS-CoV-2. While symptoms of many human coronavirus infections are mild, COVID-19 infection symptoms can be serious, leading to pneumonia and in some cases death. COVID-19 is caused by a new virus strain that is believed to have originated around the city of Wuhan, China, and began spreading among people in late 2019.

How does the virus spread? 
Officials are still learning about how COVID-19 spreads, but the CDC believes it spreads between people in three ways:

  • From close contact with people who have it.
  • From respiratory droplets that become airborne when someone, who is infected, sneezes or coughs nearby.
  • From touching our mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.

What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please call the Tahoe Forest Health System COVID-19 Hotline at (530) 582-3450, from 9am - 4pm, 7 days a week. For all other questions related to COVID-19, please contact your county health department:

  • Nevada County Public Health: (833) 342-5211
  • Placer County Public Health: (530) 886-5310
  • Washoe County Public Health: (775) 328-2427
  • El Dorado County Public Health: Dial 211 on your phone

How is COVID-19 treated?
There is currently no FDA approved medication for COVID-19. People infected with this virus should receive supportive care such as rest, fluids and fever control, to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is no vaccine available.

How can I protect myself and my family?
Practice the following to protect yourself and your family:

  • Follow the State of California guidelines at https://covid19.ca.gov/
  • Avoid people outside your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. 
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or non-surgical mask in public. Learn more about the CDC's recommendations, as well as find simple instructions for sewn and no-sew face coverings. Or if you are a more skilled seamstress, download a pattern courtesy of That's Sew Tahoe.
  • If you use a homemade mask, be sure to wash it properly
  • 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 wipes.
  • Launder items, including clothes and toys, as appropriate and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are: 

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including: 
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised 
      • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥40)
    • People with diabetes
    • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    • People with liver disease
    • People with moderate or severe asthma
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?
There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Where can I find more information about COVID-19?
The most accurate and reliable local information about COVID-19 can be found on our website.

Additional comprehensive information about the virus can be found at the following national and county government websites: