COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus not previously seen in humans.  An outbreak of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 and has now spread to other countries including the U.S.  The U.S. now has the highest number of cases worldwide.

We have created this resource to provide up-to-date information about our practice policies as well as reliable sources of information about the virus and efforts to test, treat, and contain it.

Please visit the PA Dept of Health website for up-to-date reporting of cases in PA including a county-by-county breakdown.

Please visit the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource page for a global perspective.

Please visit Governor Tom Wolf's website to review his plan to Reopen PA.  This plan includes a Red Phase, Yellow Phase, and Green Phase.  

DUE TO AN INCREASE IN COVID-19 CASES IN THIS AREA, MASKS ARE NOW REQUIRED IN ALL PUBLIC AREAS.  Other actions include closure of bars, restaurants, and casinos, as well as restriction of gatherings to 25 people or less for one week beginning July 2, 2020.  

What does it mean to be in GREEN phase?

  • UNIVERSAL MASKING is still recommended REQUIRED.
  • Gatherings of more than 250 prohibited.
  • Restaurants, salons, spas, and indoor recreation may open at 50% occupancy.
    • Bars have closed, and on-site alcohol consumption has been banned in Allegheny County as of 06/30/2020.
  • Childcare facilities open and must comply with these guidelines.
  • Elementary/secondary education may resume "live" as of July 1 under these guidelines.
  • Post-secondary education may resume "live" as of June 5 under these guidelines.
  • Most businesses may reopen and must comply with these guidelines; however, telework is strongly encouraged.
  • Summer camps and pools may reopen and must comply with CDC guidelines.
  • Continued restriction of visitation to congregate care facilities such as nursing homes.
  • Prison and hospital visitation TBD by individual facilities.
  • Questions?  Feel free to email us.

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Our Practice Policy (updated 07/03/2020):

  • We have temporarily suspended online scheduling except for phone calls and E-visits.  For an in-office appointment scheduling, we ask that you call the office at 412-685-3373.  

  • Patients with any respiratory symptoms, fever, exposure to a COVID19 positive patient, or recent travel to affected countries are asked NOT to enter our office.  This policy will ensure the safety of our staff and vulnerable patient population.

  • All patients with respiratory symptoms will be offered a phone visit or E-visit with their regular doctor.

  • Patients with non-respiratory symptoms may be seen in the office.  If the patient prefers, E-visits and phone calls will continue to be offered.

  • All patients over age 11 must wear a mask in our office.

  • We encourage adult patients not to bring anyone else to their appointments if at all possible.  For pediatric visits, we are asking that only one parent and no siblings accompany the patient if at all possible.

  • We do not have the ability to test for COVID-19 at FMDPC.

  • The CDC has a Coronavirus Symptom Checker, which is a brief online quiz.

  • If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 or have respiratory symptoms and are unsure what to do, please contact us first.  It is not safe to simply show up at an ER (unless you have severe symptoms such as shortness of breath) because of potential exposure to COVID-19 or other infectious illnesses.

COVID-19 Testing Resources

  • Does it make sense to be tested?
    • As always, call us for advice.
    • Take a look at this video which reviews the statistics behind these tests.

  • Nasal swab testing
    • UPMC testing facility on the South Side (more info here).  This is the nasopharyngeal swab test.  Patients MUST have a referral from a physician and will be assigned an appointment time.  No walk-ins accepted.   

    • AHN has 7 drive-through test sites around Western PA: Wexford, Bethel Park, North Shore, Monroeville, Natrona Heights, Braddock, and Erie.  This is the nasopharyngeal swab test.  Patients must have a referral from a physician and will be contacted to set up an appointment.  No walk-ins accepted.

    • CVS and Rite Aid have self-swab tests (either nose or mouth).  These give less accurate results as compared to the nasopharyngeal swab.

    • At home nasal swab test: Pixel by LabCorp.  Their website reports that this test has no upfront costs and can either be billed to insurance or covered by federal funds for self-pay patients. [This test has FDA EUA approval.]

    • At home saliva test: Vault.  Their website states that this test costs $150. [This test has FDA EUA approval.]

  • Antibody tests
    • These tests are also referred to as serology, fingerprick, or rapid tests.
    • The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for some of these tests.
    • However, some antibody serology tests are being marketed without EUA. The accuracy and quality of those tests may vary greatly.
    • We have become aware that Quest and Labcorp are marketing non-FDA approved tests, direct-to-consumer.  Our current recommendation is to avoid those tests, as the results cannot be interpreted in any meaningful way.
    • Please also note that our area has a relatively LOW PREVALENCE of covid19, which significantly decreases the predictive value of the antibody testing.  For more information about that topic, please visit the FDA Fact Sheet.

Mental Health Resources

At a time when anxiety, depression, addiction, or other mental health symptoms are on the rise, many mental health-related services have had to close their doors due to social distancing.  We have compiled a list of resources that are available, either online or at a physical location.  [We do not endorse any particular resource listed here.]

  • Quartet Health (QuartetHealth.com)

    • Links patients with local psychiatrists and/or local or online therapists.  Can bill insurance or cash-pay.  Referral from PCP required.

    • As of 03/27/2020, Quartet now offers FREE online cognitive-behavioral therapy.  This requires a physician referral.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  • Counseling & Wellness Center of Pgh (link for telehealth)

  • Talkspace (Talkspace.com)

  • Betterhealth (Betterhealth.com)

  • Alcoholics Anonymous online meetings in Pgh area (list of mtgs here)

  • Narcotics Anonymous regional helpline (412) 391-5247

  • Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis in Pennsylvania can text PA to 741741

  • Dr. Melina Spyridaki-Dodd is a local psychiatrist who is offering telehealth visits to new and established patients.  You can contact Dr. Dodd in any of the following ways:

    • Phone (412) 996-2165

    • Email DrDodd@PediatricPsychiatry.org

    • Website https://pediatricpsychiatry.org

FAQs on Coronavirus:

What is coronavirus? What are the symptoms?

Coronavirus disease 19, or COVID-19, is a respiratory virus that spreads from person to person. People in close proximity (within about six feet) can pass the virus by coughing or sneezing, during which the uninfected person comes in contact with infected respiratory droplets. COVID-19 may also spread through contact with infected surfaces.

The most common presentation has been a one week prodrome of muscle aches, fatigue, cough and low grade fevers (at least 100.4F), gradually leading to more severe trouble breathing in the second week of illness. It is an average of 8 days to develop shortness of breath and an average 9 days to onset of pneumonia/pneumonitis.

Please remember that the odds are low that a COVID19 infection will progress to the stage requiring hospitalization.

What is a pandemic?

COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the term “pandemic” simply refers to a disease which has spread quickly and simultaneously over a large portion of the globe. The term carries no implications about the severity or curability of the condition.

Is there currently a vaccine for coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine that protects against COVID-19.  However, several universities (including University of Pittsburgh) and pharmaceutical companies have made progress toward the creation of a vaccine.  Even so, a vaccine is unlikely to be widely available any time soon.  Read more here.

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

You and your family’s best defense against COVID-19 is intensive hygiene, particularly hand-washing at every opportunity. It is essential to practice proper hand-washing techniques to fully protect yourself against germs.

While hand-washing with soap and water is the most effective method of killing germs, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol will significantly reduce the amount of germs you carry. Please note: hand sanitizer is not a sufficient replacement for soap and water, and you should always completely wash your hands when possible.

You can also protect yourself by cleaning and disinfecting your environment, as contact with infected surfaces may also spread COVID-19. Be a good citizen by treating public spaces and amenities as you would your home - use disinfectant wipes at your desk, keep surfaces clean, and sanitize your hands whenever you can.

Social distancing is important in helping us contain the virus on a larger scale.  Please stay home and avoid public places as much as possible.

If I have further questions about coronavirus, who can I speak to?

Residents of Allegheny County may contact the Allegheny County Health Department either by phone at 412-687-2243 or via their website here (be sure to click the COVID-19 box and your message will be directed to the Epidemiology department).   

Trusted Resources:

At Family Matters Direct Primary Care, we want to educate our patients responsibly about coronavirus and prevent the spread of misinformation. Here is our list of verified resources patients can trust to provide accurate information about COVID-19.

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC):

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO):

PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: 

ALLEGHENY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT (ACHD)

  • Contact with questions about COVID-19 via this online form or by calling 412-687-2243.