Medical FAQs


What to Do and Who to Contact

Procedures for students, faculty, staff or other individuals on campus

  • 24/7 Hotline: 213-740-6291 for questions
  • Students: For medical appointments involving respiratory symptoms or any other health care services, please make your appointment on MySHR or call the USC Student Health line, 213-740-9355.

The following information is provided for USC students, faculty and staff.

For health care employees, including those at Keck Medicine of USC, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC School of Pharmacy, USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, and USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, please follow current guidelines for employee health clearance.

Email EmployeeHotline@med.usc.edu with general questions. For health clearance to return to any Keck Medicine facility, contact the Employee Health Services dedicated service line: 323-442-5219.

Symptoms and Testing Information

As of April 27, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded the list of symptoms for COVID-19. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

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

The most important step to take is to stay home and practice respiratory hygiene (cover your cough and wash your hands frequently). Call your health care provider and let them know your symptoms. Do not go directly to an urgent care or emergency department unless you are experiencing severe, life-threatening symptoms. In many cases, your health care provider will schedule a Telehealth appointment to assess your situation. Wear a face covering before interacting with others.

  • For employees (faculty and staff): Please stay at home and contact your medical provider. Notify your supervisor. Telecommute if possible, and please seek guidance from your HR partner. If you have been in a USC facility, please notify the university by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 213-740-6291.
  • For students: Your health provider is USC Student Health. Please call 213-740-9355 (WELL).

Testing will become very common over the next few weeks. You should practice strict self-isolation until your test results are available. This includes staying home, ideally in a separate room, and practicing self-isolation.

  • For employees (faculty and staff): Please stay at home and contact your medical provider. Notify your supervisor. Telecommute if possible, and please seek guidance from your HR partner.
  • For students: Students living in shared rooms on/near campus will be relocated to a single-occupancy room. Contact the 24/7 Hotline at 213-740-6291 for assistance.

Testing will become very common over the next few weeks, and most people will soon know someone who is being tested. Many tests will be negative. Household, intimate, and close contacts should practice self-isolation until test results are known or as advised by your health care provider.

  • For employees (faculty and staff): Within the workplace, thorough cleaning of surfaces is a proactive step while awaiting final test results. Please contact the hotline at 213-740-6291 for guidance on this issue.
  • If you are unsure if you should practice self-isolation, please contact the hotline at 213-740-6291.

Testing and new diagnoses will become very common over the next few weeks, and most people will soon know someone who is diagnosed. Local public health authorities will evaluate and notify close contacts. They will be advised to self-isolate and monitor their symptoms for a period of 14 days since contact. While awaiting formal notification, practicing self-isolation and monitoring symptoms is advised.

  • If you are unsure if you should practice self-isolation, please contact the hotline at 213-740-6291.
  • For employees (faculty and staff): Within the workplace, thorough cleaning of surfaces may be recommended. Please contact the hotline at 213-740-6291 for guidance on this issue.

Notify the university—call the hotline at 213-740-6291 to provide additional details.

Your information will be taken and forwarded to campus leadership to develop an individualized and coordinated campus response to support you and/or your unit. This may include access to campus support resources such as housing as well as initiation of deep cleaning of campus facilities. Managers and departmental leadership should coordinate all notifications through this process to protect privacy and ensure accurate and timely information.

An “exposure to an exposed person” does not require self-isolation or additional steps. Contact the hotline at 213-740-6291 if you have additional questions.

There is emerging data that COVID-19 is viable in aerosol form (“in the air”) and via fomites (“contact with surfaces”); this information is important to the health care setting where close contact with patients is frequent.

This may impact infection control recommendations for PPEs (personal protective equipment) and sterilization processes in clinical patient care settings, such as hospitals and dental practices (where close contact and aerosolized equipment are necessities for most procedures). It is unclear how much this contributes to the spread of infection in general community settings.

For general public interaction, this does not change current best practices recommendations:

  • Physical distancing (keeping a distance of 6 feet from other people, avoiding congregating in groups, not sharing food/drinks/utensils)
  • Handwashing (or sanitizing gel of 60% alcohol solution) is the best protection for contact from surfaces
  • Staying home if you are sick and using TeleHealth to communicate with your medical provider
  • Cleaning of common surfaces in your environment with a household cleaning product

Please see the guidelines from the LA County Department of Public Health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines for returning to regular activities for those who have recovered from COVID-19.

You can be with others after:

  • Three days with no fever and
  • Symptoms have improved and
  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared

Depending on your health care provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you will be tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row at least 24 hours apart.

Those with immune-compromised health conditions, or those who tested positive but had no symptoms, can find additional information on the CDC website.

Additional Information

Any USC student who needs assistance with making household arrangements in order to comply with public health recommendations should contact USC Campus Support and Intervention at 213-740-0411 or email uscsupport@usc.edu.

Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, are transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person (cough, sneezing and close contact). Standard Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved cleaning products and disinfectants are effective in cleaning surfaces.

The university is taking extended measures to ensure a hygienic environment, including regular cleaning of common areas and refilling of soap and hand sanitizer.

All of us can take measures to protect our community from the spread of illness, primarily through social distancing (keeping 6 feet from others), good hand hygiene (washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water), covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick.

No, the flu shot is formulated to match influenza viruses expected to be circulating in the United States during the 2019-2020 flu season (Los Angeles County is currently seeing a rising number of cases, so please get a flu shot if you have not already done so). The influenza virus is a different genetic makeup from the coronavirus. The coronavirus has many genetic variants, including the “common cold” that generally does not present serious adverse health risks.

As COVID-19 continues in community transmission in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the world, guidance on infection control measures will shift to meet the current challenges. In the U.S. and other countries, we should assume that everywhere we go, every surface we touch, every person that we come into contact with may potentially be infectious.

Face masks and cloth face coverings are used to reduce the spread of infection. Surgical face masks, and N95 face masks, are part of the much-needed supplies for frontline health care providers and first responders who encounter risks of exposure while caring for patients with illness. The close contact (within 6 feet, for more than 10 minutes) nature of the work puts these workers at greater risk of infection — through higher frequency and viral load exposure from hospitalized patients.

A surgical mask is also an important supply for the patient who is ill; a “source control” measure to reduce respiratory droplets from reaching others. It is critically important to keep these items directed to our health care environment as we face a prolonged period of equipment shortage and face a surge in cases in the region.

Cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth) are currently designated, as of April 10, 2020, a mandatory item for all persons in public settings in Los Angeles, including employees performing essential work. This new requirement applies to all students and essential employees in campus environments.

  • Students must use face masks and/or cloth face coverings that cover their nose and mouth in public settings on the USC campuses.
  • All employees must wear face masks and/or face coverings that cover their nose and mouth while performing their work.
  • Established social distancing guidelines, including maintaining 6 feet of distance from others, and proper hand hygiene practice must be followed.
  • Supervisors must ensure that employees are permitted to wash or sanitize their hands every 30 minutes.

While it is generally appropriate for employees and students to choose to use a face covering of their choice that they make or provide themselves, those employees who have received direction from Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) to use specific forms of personal protective equipment may not substitute personal face coverings.

  • It is highly recommended that face coverings be washed every day.
  • This guide sheet from EH&S explains the grades of risk from very low to high, with the appropriate safety measures.
  • Face coverings are not a substitute for compliance with current social distancing and hand washing guidance, which should be consistently observed.

For all individuals, the safest measures continue to be to stay at home for anything other than essential needs, social distance by minimizing contact with other individuals, staying 6 feet away from others, and frequent handwashing for 20 seconds or using a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizing solution.

For more complete information on when and how to use, make, and clean cloth face coverings, please see these guidelines developed by EHS. Additional information is also available from the Los Angeles and California Departments of Public Health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information that individuals who are older and/or have severe chronic medical conditions — such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, or any immune-compromised condition — appear to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. It is unclear what risks may be posed to pregnant women. The CDC advises this higher risk population to take heightened precautions. Stay home as much as possible, and limit close contact (6 feet, 2 meters) in public places. When going to public places, people in this risk category should distance themselves from others who are sick, limit close contact with others and wash their hands frequently.

While USC provides hand sanitizer in dispensers at locations throughout the campuses, it's important to note that hand sanitizer does not replace handwashing with soap and water. Handwashing is a more effective way to reduce the spread of infection.

The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in the United States comes from the federal public health agency (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Specific local advisories for Los Angeles County would be issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and other local public health agencies. We will share new developments with the university community via email and our COVID-19 website.