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Last Updated: November 30, 2020

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1950s and generally cause mild upper respiratory illness characterized by cough, fever, and/or body aches. This is very similar to most viral illnesses including flu and the common cold. 

The current situation involves a new, or “novel,” coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 and the illness it causes is called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

Am I at risk for catching SARS-CoV-2?

SARS-CoV-2 is a highly contagious virus. While anyone can get infected, the risk of infection and how sick you get is highly variable. The risk of infection seems to increase with age.  Younger children under the age of 10 years may be at lower risk.

Other factors that increase risk include the type of work you do and the number of people you are around. In particular, being in crowded areas, where you cannot keep a safe distance, increases your risk for infection. Wearing a mask has been shown to reduce your risk, while being around others without your mask on increases your risk.

What can we do to reduce the spread of the disease?

Everyone should be maximizing “social and physical distancing” to slow down the spread of COVID-19, as the disease is now in the community and can be spread by people who may not have symptoms. Here are things you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the community:

  • Minimize exposure to people outside of your household.  Stay home unless it is necessary to go to work, purchase necessary items, help someone who needs support, or seek medical care.
  • Keep visits with friends and loved ones distanced and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask at all times when you are around anyone you don’t live with. 
  • Stay connect with others using video and telephone calls

What are the symptoms caused by coronavirus?

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms appear within 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and can be very different in different people. 

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue or loss of energy

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

Is there a way to predict how sick I will get if I get infected?

There is no way to fully predict how sick someone will get after infection. Some people have very mild symptoms while others get very ill. Older age is one risk factor for severity of illness, but even young people can get very sick.

Other factors that increase your risk of severe illness include having chronic medical conditions, particularly: diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, immune disorders, obesity, heart failure, coronary artery disease and sickle cell disease.

It also seems there is increased risk among ethnic minorities.

Can the coronavirus be treated?

In recent months, several medications have been found to lessen the effects of the illness.  Remdesivir, an antiviral medication, and Dexamethasone, a steroid, are used in patients who are sick enough to be hospitalized.

Very recently, medications called monoclonal antibodies have received emergency use authorization from the FDA to treat earlier infections and to prevent progression and hospitalizations. As of now, they are not available at Summit Medical Group, but we are working to gain access for our patients

What should I do if I am experiencing symptoms? 

If you are in respiratory distress, call 911. If you have a fever, cough, and other symptoms of respiratory infection, please visit one a SMG or CityMD urgent care center for evaluation.  If you have questions, please call Summit Medical Group at (908) 273-4300. Our team can help direct you to the appropriate site of care.

Can I come in to be tested for coronavirus?

For those patients who are experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19, our urgent care center providers will evaluate you and determine if a test is needed. 

Due to high demand and the need to care for acutely ill patients, Summit Medical Group Urgent Care Centers are NOT currently testing asymptomatic patients for COVID-19. 

  • Asymptomatic patients who have an established SMG provider may call (908) 273-4300 M-F between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to schedule an appointment to be tested at one of our medical offices. If you need assistance on the weekend, our Nurse Triage Line (option 1) will be available for scheduling.
  • Asymptomatic patients who do not have an established SMG provider may go to one of our CityMD sites for evaluation and testing.

For more information visit our COVID-19 Testing Information page.


What should I do to avoid infection?

Please stay aware and take proper precautions. It is believed the coronavirus spreads via respiratory droplets such as from a cough or sneeze, so you should be using the same prevention methods as you would to avoid a cold or the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home from school or work when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. ​
  • Wear a mask whenever you are around anyone who you don’t live with including other family and friends. 


Are there any changes to your hours or open locations?

In order to preserve our ability to properly staff our sites with the dedicated doctors and teams you rely on from Summit Medical Group, we may revise hours of operation based on the current situation.  Visit our website or call (908) 273-4300 for regular updates.


Are you offering telemedicine?

We have rapidly expanded our ability to offer telemedicine visits with a provider to help make it easy for patients to seek care, while limiting exposure for all health care workers and patients to COVID-19. Almost all specialties can offer video and telephone-based telemedicine visits. 

Please call your provider, reach out by portal message, or call Summit Medical Group at (908) 273-4300 if you prefer to schedule your visit virtually. For more information visit our Telemedicine Options page.


What is Summit Medical Group doing to keep patients safe?

SMG continues to offer access to patients needing care both related and non-related to COVID-19. We’re keeping our facilities safe to provide essential preventive care, chronic care and acute care by continuing to do things in a proactive and thoughtful way to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and health care teams.

We have a triage protocol to direct patients to the appropriate point of care. Those with potential infection-related concerns will be evaluated in dedicated areas such as our Urgent Care Centers and Pediatric Illness Clinics, so that our patients with other medical needs can be seen safely in our offices and other clinical spaces.

We have universal screening protocols for all patients and staff at all our sites.  We have adjusted our offices spaces and schedules to maximize distancing.  And we are limiting visitors and using technologies such as virtual waiting rooms to help reduce the number of people in clinical spaces. 

To learn more about how Summit Medical Group is keeping you safe during your visit, please visit our In-Office Visit FAQs page.


Is there help available for coping during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Fear and anxiety concerning COVID-19 can be overwhelming. Individuals who are struggling specifically with anxiety about the COVID-19 outbreak can call (908) 277-8908 to speak to one of Summit Medical Group’s behavioral health clinicians who will conduct a brief phone assessment and provide coping tools. The service is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Where can I get more information?

NJ Department of Health:  

NJ COVID-19 Information Hub:

NY Department of Health:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: