Need a calm voice on the phone right now? Nurses staff Cincinnati Health Department hotline

Call 513-357-7462 to reach hotline
Cincinnati Health Department Nurse Hotline
Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 18, 2020

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

They’re busier than they’ve ever been, but the nurses answering at the Cincinnati Health Department hotline want you to keep calling.

“Continue to call if you have any questions at all,” nursing director Virginia Scott said Wednesday afternoon. “If your provider has any questions for the health department, please call our hotline.”

The hotline, available by calling 513-357-7462, opened Saturday in Corryville to field questions about COVID-19.

“We have providers that are calling, citizens calling, 'Where can I be tested?'” Scott said. “We have calls from mini-clinics, we have calls from, 'Where do I even have my patient go for testing?'"

So far, Scott said, the call center has taken about 150 calls, but that number is expected to jump to 500 by the weekend. The call center is staffed by registered nurses, many of whom work in school-based health centers.

Through the calls, nurses are monitoring patients for temperatures as well as tracking and investigating travelers and close contacts. They’re following CDC guidelines as they give out advice.

“Mild symptoms, you stay home,” Scott said. “If you’ve been told by your local provider to quarantine for 14 days, just follow that guidance.”

Above all else, Scott said, the nurses on the other end of the phone are providing information, but also urging callers to stay calm.

“I would say not just at home, even if you’re at work, and you’re concerned and you’re worried about someone next to you, just relax,” Scott said. “Just breathe through this. Just stay calm and balance that. I think we will all be okay.”

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH, Cincinnati's Health Department hotline: 513-357-7462
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.