Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

Updated November 29, 2021

California Department of Public Health Fact Sheet: Omicron Variant

What do we know about the Omicron variant? We are still learning about the new variant, including how it spreads and infects individuals as well as how it responds to vaccines. Here is what we know: Read more…


What is a Crisis Care Plan?
A Crisis Care Plan provides a framework to help health care facilities and county health departments plan for the potential of a COVID-19 surge that is overwhelming. It aims to ensure that, should conditions push our systems into providing crisis care, we do so in a coordinated and thoughtful manner, using a common framework, procedures, and decision making that best protects the health of all Californians. To view California’s Crisis Care Plan, click here.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?
Watch the presentation below by Infectious Disease Medical Director, Dr. Sandeep Soni, explaining the research and data about the Pfizer vaccine. Learn the latest about the COVID-19 vaccines here.

What spiritual care services are offered during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Palomar Health Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support to patients and visitors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ministers of all faiths and Catholic priests may go on-site for end-of-life situations only. They may also call in to a patient’s room to meet spiritual needs. Please talk to your loved one’s nurse to discuss the need for spiritual support.

Do Palomar Health hospitals provide masks to patients? 
To further reduce the exposure risk to our staff and physicians, we will be providing all patients with a mask to be worn while hospitalized. Patients will be given a surgical mask by the nurse or CNA upon being admitted into a patient room (unless coming from the ED and one has already been provided) along with education on how and when to use the mask. The patient will keep the same mask until discharged unless it appears soiled or degraded in any way and then a new mask must be provided. The patient should wear the mask each time a member of the healthcare team enters the room unless the patient condition inhibits this. Employees may remind patients to wear the mask when they enter a room, but a patient has the right to refuse at any time.

What are the visitor restrictions?

Click here to see our newly updated visitor guidelines.

To increase access to patients during this difficult time, Palomar Health encourages patients to visit with their loved ones virtually through their smartphone or tablet. If the patient does not have access to a device, they will be able to use a loaner iPad provided by Palomar Health. To initiate a virtual visit, the patient (or loved one by calling the patient’s room) must ask their bedside nurse to set up the virtual visit. There may be a delay as there are a limited number of iPads available.

The iPads are Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with Apple FaceTime and Google Duo. The call must be initiated from the patient’s room on the iPad as an outgoing call; the loved one can only receive the call. Loved ones must have an internet-connected device with either FaceTime or Google Duo installed to accept the call. This can be a phone, tablet or computer. If the patient and loved one both have access to their own personal internet-connected device, they are welcome to initiate a virtual visit at any time.

If you have any questions, please ask to speak with the charge nurse in the unit where the patient is staying.
Is Palomar Health providing free COVID-19 tests?
No. None of the Palomar Health facilities offer free COVID-19 tests. At this time, Palomar Health is only testing patients with symptoms and others who meet certain criteria.

Is it safe to come to the hospital?
Yes. Palomar Medical Centers in Escondido and Poway are taking extraordinary measures to ensure your safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Please don’t hesitate to access emergency services if you have cardiac issues, abdominal pain, chest pain, orthopedic injuries or psychiatric emergencies. Early treatment can result in drastically improved outcomes.
Here are some of the ways we are ensuring your safety:

  • Screening all patients at the door
  • Isolating potential COVID-19 patients from all other patients
  • Masking all patients and personnel throughout the hospital
  • Restricting visitors
  • Unprecedented cleaning and sterilization of all surfaces


Click Here to See the Latest Visitor Guidelines

What are the vendor and contractor visitor restrictions?
In accordance with CDC guidelines, all non-essential vendors and contractors are barred from entering all Palomar Health facilities. The exceptions to this policy (essential care vendors and contractors) are those who provide services directly to medically necessary patient care and essential equipment or facility processes. This policy is effective immediately and until further notice. All vendors and contractors must check in at the front desk upon arrival and those meeting the criteria will be given a badge for that day only. Please see the attached letter on our vendor restrictions at this time. 

How can I protect myself?
Here are the best ways you can protect yourself and others:
- Wear a mask while in public
- Sanitize and/or wash your hands often
- Keep six feet of distance from anyone not in your immediate household
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Do not touch your face
- Stay home if you feel sick
- Properly cover your cough/sneeze
- Disinfect highly touched areas
- Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you. Learn more here.
What should I do if I believe I am infected with COVID-19?
Call your primary care physician. If you do not have a healthcare provider, please call 2-1-1 or visit 211sandiego and they will connect you with a provider. Stay home until instructed to leave by your healthcare provider. Do not visit the Emergency Department unless you are having an emergency situation. Read our steps to follow for more information and watch this video on why you should call first to avoid exposing others. Even if you do recover from being infected with COVID-19, it's still encouraged that you get a COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine here.

What should I do if I am told to isolate at home?
The County of San Diego has issued a specific set of directions for anyone who is being evaluated or has confirmed positive for the coronavirus. These instructions also cover anyone who has contact with the coronavirus carrier. You can also learn how to take care of yourself in this video and seven ways to stay safe if you're high risk in this video

Should I get an antibody coronavirus test? 
Palomar Health’s Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Director of Infectious Diseases are suggesting you wait until a more valid antibody test is developed. The vast majority of antibody tests are not FDA approved and in the opinion of many medical experts are not yet accurate. Scientists are currently working to create a reliable test and are hopeful they will get FDA approval in the future. The most accurate current tests being conducted by hospitals nationwide, including Palomar Health, is called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which examines a sample of mucus taken from the nose or mouth.

Is Palomar Health testing all patients for COVID-19?
At this time, only patients with symptoms and others who meet certain criteria will be tested.

Are we testing people without symptoms for COVID-19?
Following CDC guidelines, and due to the low number of test kits available, we are only testing people who show symptoms. Since incubation periods after exposure differ for each person, testing someone without symptoms could produce a negative result and a false sense of security for the individual and those around them. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus, but isn’t showing symptoms, should wear a mask and remain in quarantine.

What are the odds I am COVID-19 positive, but I received a negative test result? 
The sensitivity and specificity of the COVID-19 test is greater than 98%, which means the rate of false negative test results is very low.

How much is a COVID-19 test?
We treat everyone regardless of their ability to pay. As is the case with any treatment, we collect insurance information. Your insurance company is best to answer any payment related question.

How is Palomar Health screening patients for the virus?
All patients are screened at the entrance to the Emergency Department and their temperature is taken. Those who meet the criteria for possible coronavirus testing are immediately masked and sent to a designated area to isolate them from other patients. Patients are evaluated and those suspected of carrying the virus are tested and sent home with medical instructions or tested and admitted to the hospital for treatment, depending on patient condition.  

What is the process for testing?
First you are screened to meet CDC testing requirements. Then a practitioner swabs your nose and/or mouth to collect a specimen. If you need hospital care you will be checked in and treated as necessary, otherwise you will be sent home and asked to self-quarantine. 

What should I do once I have been swabbed for the coronavirus?
If you have been tested for COVID-19 at a Palomar Health hospital and sent home you will be contacted as soon as your results are availabe. If you are home waiting for results, stay home and away from other people as much as possible.

How many days does it take to get coronavirus results back?
If you are admitted to the hospital (become an inpatient) your results will usually be returned in less than 24 hours. If you are tested (swabbed) and sent home to self-quarantine, your results may take up to 7 days or longer. You will be contacted immediately when your results are available.
Is Palomar Health operating drive through coronavirus testing?
Drive-through testing is only being done with appointments for those who have a scheduled surgery at one of our hospitals. Our emergency departments do not offer drive-through testing and is only testing people with symptoms. Unless you have an emergency situation, please contact your doctor first before coming to the Emergency Department.
Is Palomar Health resuming outpatient services?
In accordance with County guidelines, we have started to slowly resume outpatient services. As of June 1, Cardiac Rehab has resumed Phase 2 services and outpatient diagnostic imaging has resumed for critical cases. All patients will be screened and all required precautions will be observed including masks, social distancing and frequent hand hygiene.

Are gift shops and Starbucks open at Palomar Medical Centers?
The gift shop at PMC Escondido opened on June 1 with limited hours and the gift shop at PMC Poway will reopen once volunteers are able to return to the hospital. Starbucks will be reopening at PMC Escondido on Monday, June 8. All County guidelines for retail businesses will be followed at these locations.

When will elective surgeries resume?
Government agencies loosened surgery restrictions to allow those that are “time-sensitive” and essential to the health of the patient. Although surgery volume is vital to our business, it’s important that we resume surgeries in the safest way possible to protect our patients and staff. We are resuming time-sensitive surgeries while monitoring safety and PPE use closely. All other elective surgeries will continue to be suspended at this time.

What types of treatment and testing is Palomar Health doing? 
We are continuing to review advanced treatment options for COVID-19 which include: Dexamethasone, Convalescent Plasma and Remdesivir. We are not currently doing any anti-body testing as the only FDA approved test is not reliable and does not specifically test for COVID-19.

What is Palomar Health doing to prevent the spread? 
Palomar Health continues to maintain and provide all proper PPE to staff. All employees are required to pass a temperature check when entering all buildings and must wear a mask at all times while at work. Employees much practice social distancing at all times, including in the café and breakrooms while eating. All meetings are being done virtually and employees who are not required to be in the hospital are telecommuting until further notice. Volunteers have also been suspended for the time being. Vaccines are also being administered to staff members across the health system. For more COVID-19 vaccine information, click here.

How has this healthcare crisis affected hospitals?
The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has caused unforeseen challenges and extreme difficulties to healthcare systems across the county. The process of balancing expectations and the realities we are currently facing have caused hardships on many companies, Palomar Health included. Unfortunately, hospitals and healthcare systems, like many other businesses, are faced with tough decisions to ensure we are able to balance our finances and ensure we can continue serving the community during and after this crisis. As usual, we will continue to adjust staffing levels to patient volume.

Does Palomar Health have enough hospital-grade PPE? 
Yes. Palomar Health has been able to maintain use of all proper hospital-grade PPE. We always have and always will provide the necessary PPE required by the CDC for patient care. In many cases we have exceeded the requirements.

Does Palomar Health have enough ventilators?
We are continuing to increase our supply and have a proof of concept that will allow multiple patients to share one ventilator, further increasing our capacity.
How has the community helped Palomar Health through giving?
One of the most inspiring parts of this pandemic has been the tremendous outpouring of support we have seen from our community. Since March, we have received 7,860 meals and food items, 18,083 supply donations, 20,000 homemade masks and more than $1 million in donations.

Why did Palomar Health ask for mask donations? 
Palomar Health asked for mask donations, and we are happy to announce we reached our need for cloth masks. 

What should we do with donations other than masks?
We are receiving many donation offers from generous local companies and residents. We are grateful for their generosity and ask all hospital supply donations be sent to in Supply Chain. Donation offers for anything other than supplies should be directed to at the Foundation.

Note: Due to the outpouring of support we are no longer accepting mask or food donations. Thank you for your support.

Where can I get the latest data on the spread of the coronavirus?
The County of San Diego Public Health Department updates coronavirus statistics every day around 4 p.m. 

Where can I get good information about community resources such as child care, etc.?
The County of San Diego operates a website and information line that contains local resources, sorted by zip code that has been vetted by professionals. You can call 2-1-1 or visit their website to learn more about these resources.

Do you sell N95 masks? If not where can I purchase them?
No hospital sells N95 masks, but they are available from third party vendors. Please be careful of scams and price gouging as some are taking advantage of the pandemic. Your best defense against contracting the coronavirus is to stay at least six feet away from other people and wash your hands regularly.
What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) is a respiratory disease first identified in Wuhan, China causing an illness not previously seen in humans. The fact that it’s a new virus with little information is why it’s getting so much attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus mainly spreads between people in close contact with each other and/or from a cough or sneeze. People are most contagious when they are feeling sick. However, it might be possible for the virus to spread before symptoms occur. Although unlikely, the virus could spread by touching an infected surface and then touching your face.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- fever
- cough
- shortness of breath

COVID-19 Treatments at the Hospital and Home Seminar
Watch this seminar presentation by Critical Care Physician Dr. Ian Butler as he discusses COVID-19 treatments.

Flu Vaccinations
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ( recommends a new flu vaccine to protect against the upcoming strains of influenza. The 2019 - 2020 flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. It will not prevent illness caused by other viruses. It takes up to two weeks for protection to develop after the shot, and protection lasts six-months to one year. Palomar Health, working under national guidelines provided by the CDC, is prepared to vaccinate as many individuals as possible, age 9 and older, through its community flu shot clinics. Palomar Health nurses will provide the influenza vaccine by injection to persons 9 years of age and older.


There are no more community flu shots this season. 
COVID-19 Vaccinations
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations, click here.

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