Coronavirus FAQ: What to know about COVID-19, how to protect yourself and when to see a doctor

Craig Lyons Megan Banta
Lansing State Journal

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LANSING – As Michigan continues to wrestle with steps to protect people from coronavirus, questions are plentiful.

Since the state announced its first two cases had been identified on Tuesday, March 10, local officials, schools and businesses have been weighing decisions on what safety steps to take and when.

Meanwhile, state and local health officials continue to test, screen and monitor people for the virus, known as COVID-19.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state officials, meanwhile, are using a state of emergency declaration to bolster steps that may prevent the spread of the virus. Whitmer also mandated a three-week closure of K-12 schools in the state. 

Here's what you need to know about coronavirus in Michigan.

How many coronavirus cases, where are they in Michigan?

Cases have risen daily since the first two positive tests were announced March 10. The state It updates data daily, usually in the evening, at

Coronavirus: What does state of emergency mean for Michigan, Greater Lansing?

See the cases:Map shows coronavirus cases in Michigan, Indiana, beyondThe state doesn't say where testing or monitoring is taking place.

It updates data daily, usually in the evening, at

How can I prevent exposure to coronavirus?

There are steps residents can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold that will also help prevent COVID-19, including:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home if you are sick and contact your health-care provider. 
Take precautions to protect yourself from coronavirus.

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

Confirmed COVID-19 cases range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
Coronavirus graphic

When should I get tested for coronavirus?

If someone has symptoms and has come into close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or traveled to an area affected by the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends they stay home and contact their health-care provider.

The CDC's laboratory test kit for the novel coronavirus.

A health-care provider will decide if someone needs a test for coronavirus.

The CDC currently has two criteria for a health care provider to send patients' samples for testing:

  • People have come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.
  • People who lived in or traveled to an area with an elevated risk of the virus.

Should I go to the hospital?

Most people will only have mild illness. People affected by COVID-19 will most likely have mild or no symptoms and can be treated through supportive care without hospitalization.

If symptoms become more severe, people should first contact their health-care provider before traveling to a physician's office, urgent care or emergency room.

Who is most vulnerable to coronavirus?

Older adults and people with chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes or lung diseases, are at a higher risk of getting sick if they contract COVID-19, the CDC said.

The CDC does not have enough information to tell if pregnant woman are more susceptible to COVID-19. Women should take regular precautions to prevent any infection, the CDC said.

Children are less susceptible to the coronavirus, the CDC said. What medical researchers saw in China and past viral outbreaks show limited infections in children, the CDC said.

Should I keep regular medical appointments?

People should maintain scheduled health care appointments, the Michigan Hospital and Health Association said. Patients should keep regular appointments so health needs are not neglected, but first check with their providers if any precautions are needed.

Will the hospital cancel my surgery?

People should contact their health-care provider in case any appointments or surgeries will be canceled or rescheduled.

What supplies should I keep on hand?

People should have standard emergency supplies stocked up:

  • A gallon of water per person, per day (plus a little extra if you have pets)
  • Canned and dry foods
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toilet paper
  • Diapers (if needed)
  • 30-day supply of prescriptions
  • Over-the-counter drugs you use regularly or that could treat fever and other symptoms
Akers East Hall resident freshman Nathan Budnick packs his trunk Wednesday, March 11, 2020, and will head home to Canton, Mich. where he'll do his studies online.  "It is a good precaution, but it happened so suddenly. I wish we had more warning," he said. Michigan State University suspended in-person classes at noon Wednesday to limit risk the potential risk of coronavirus.

Michigan coronavirus school closings

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced late Thursday that K-12 public, private and boarding schools in Michigan will close through April 5 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The decision to close schools in the state was made "in an abundance of caution," she said.

State Superintendent Michael Rice acknowledged that potential challenges that could rise for students and families who rely on the school systems for meals and other resources.

"There are many children in Michigan who rely on our schools for meals," he said. "We will be working with our local school districts to provide guidance to help people access food at this time."

Many colleges and universities have decided to temporarily move to online-only instruction, also.

Coronavirus in Michigan: MSU suspending in-person classes until April 20

Is the coronavirus actually worse than the flu? 

Yes. COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate than the flu. 

More than 3% of coronavirus patients die, compared to less than 1% of patients with the season flu. 

And according to data available from the CDC and World Health Organization, people who contract coronavirus are more likely to pass it on than flu patients. 

Contact reporter Craig Lyons at 517-377-1047 or Follow him on Twitter @craigalyons. Contact reporter Megan Banta at (517) 377-1261 or Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.