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2020 Coronavirus Outbreak – How Does It Affect Philadelphia, PA?

Recent news reports suggest the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global health concern.

2020 Coronavirus Outbreak - How Does It Affect Philadelphia, PA?

You must call ahead if you suspect you have symptoms of COVID19.

This page was lasted updated on 3/18/20

Beginning in early January of 2020 in Wuhan City, China, doctors began to report a new illness affecting the population in the area. Research determined it was a novel coronavirus, or in other words, a coronavirus that doctors had never seen before. It was originally named 2019-nCov, although now it is known as COVID-19. The virus was considered to be contagious and caused severe illnesses to many it infected. While the news detailed the spread of this infection, unconfirmed reports suggested it was much worse than what was being released through the press. Towards the end of January, several major cities were under complete quarantine. Other areas in China significantly restricted the movement of residents and closed public transportation. In some cities, the government ordered businesses to stay closed for two weeks to keep as many people as possible home and isolated. Health officials around the world monitored this situation with growing concern and began to screen for this illness at points of entry. On January 30th, the World Health Organization declared the COVID1-19 virus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. January 30th, the State Department issued a Level 4: Do No Travel advisory asking all citizens to avoid travel to China and those in the country to depart immediately. With the continued outbreak of this virus, the State Department also issued a Level 3: Reconsider Travel warning for:

South Korea



A Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution was issued for:


Hong Kong


Questions about the COVID-19 have begun to emerge, and many in Philadelphia are concerned about this new coronavirus. We’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers to them. We will do our best to keep this page as up to date as possible, but the information here is not updated in real-time.

For more information, please visit:

The CDC’s paged dedicated to this outbreak.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s page dedicated to this outbreak 

Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Are there any confirmed cases in Philadelphia, PA?

As of March 17th, health officials have confirmed infections in Philadelphia and believe community infection is taking place. There have been confirmed infections in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and other counties in Pennsylvania. The increasing trend of infections has led to the closure of school districts and nonessential businesses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

During a press conference with Gov. Tom Wolf, Dr. Levine stated:

“Further spread of this virus throughout the nation will likely occur. We encourage people to prepare for potential life disruptions. The same family emergency plans and kits that we use to prepare for flu or norovirus, and even snowstorms and floods, are important now. Pennsylvanians should continue to help stop the spread of viruses by washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and staying home if you are sick.”

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus? How long do they take to appear?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of this novel coronavirus are initially very similar to that of the flu, a common cold, or an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Muscle Pain

Unlike the flu, there is a higher chance of developing life-threating complications, such as: 

  • Fever of over 100.4F
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Death

Currently, doctors believe symptoms appear within two to fourteen days of infection. It is unclear what the average time is for the arrival of symptoms. There is conflicting research about whether someone is contagious before they show signs of infection as well.

I heard Governor Wolf closed all businesses in Pennsylvania, is your urgent care center open?

Yes, AFC Urgent Care South Philly is open for its normal business hours. The order was to close all nonessential businesses. Since we are an urgent care center, we are deemed to be essential and will remain open unless ordered to close.

Can I be tested for a COVID-19 infection at AFC Urgent Care South Philly?

Testing for COVID-19 may be available in the near future at our location. Please call ahead before arriving at the clinic if you feel you need a COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of our staff and other patients. You will speak with our staff and be provided with some guidance.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

While being developed, there is no viable vaccine at this time. The flu shot you received earlier in the year offers no protection from it. A vaccine for COVID-19 is likely months or even years away from being deployed.

How does someone become infected from COVID-19?

Initially, it is believed the virus infected a human from a yet unidentified animal. However, once someone is infected, they can infect someone else via person to person transmission. The virus can also, under the right conditions, survive on surfaces for some time. It is considered to be very contagious.

I don’t feel well, and I have some of these symptoms. Am I infected? What are the risk factors for the COVID-19 coronavirus?

Philadelphia is expected to experience community infection, meaning the virus is active in the community and can not be tracked. Although that is an important thing to keep in mind, there are other illnesses you could catch that have similar symptoms to COVID-19. You could have the flu or another upper respiratory infection. These illnesses can be treated easily at our walk-in urgent care center. Two symptoms that could indicated you have COVID-19 include:

  • A dry cough that produces no phlegm or mucus
  • A fever

There is a higher chance of contracting COVID-19 if you have traveled from China or Europe in the last 14 days or have traveled through an area of the United States with widespread infections.

If you have traveled to these areas or have the two symptoms above, do not visit AFC Urgent Care South Philly without first calling. Speak with our staff about your symptoms, concerns, and if you are at risk for COVID-19. We cannot treat COVID-19, but we may be able to determine it is something else over the phone. Please call so we can provide guidance.

How can I prevent an infection from COVID-19?

If you practice good hygiene and follow standard guidelines to avoid the flu, you will significantly lower your chances of being infected. Some guidelines to keep in mind and adhere include:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching surfaces and then your face
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth if you feel sick

For additional protection

  • Avoid live animal markets
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Wear a surgical mask & eye protection

Is the coronavirus related to SARS or MERS? Why is it called COVID-19?

COVID-19, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) are in the same family of viruses: a coronavirus. A coronavirus distinguishes itself from other viruses as it looks like it is wearing a “Crown” under an electron microscope. This virus is more closely related to SARS, which also originated in Asia, than MERS, which was first identified in Saudi Arabia.

The way doctors named new bacteria and viruses was changed several years ago to avoid misinformation and fear. They no longer name things after animals, like Swine Flu, or after locations, like Lyme Disease. Originally this virus was named 2019-nCov to denote the year it was first reported (2019), and that it was a novel coronavirus (nCov.) The World Health Organization has now named this virus COVID-19. COVID-19 denotes the year it was first detected (2019) and that it is a new coronavirus. Some scientists also use the name SARS-CoV-2 or “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.”

AFC Urgent Care’s walk-in clinic in South Philadelphia is up to date with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Do you have questions about the coronavirus? Feel free to call if you have any questions!

Check out this video about COVID-19 from Dr. Peter Lin, a family physician in Toronto, Canada.

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