UC Health's COVID-19 clinic was overwhelmed within hours of opening

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Posted at 11:57 AM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 16:25:05-04

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.

UPDATE: In a statement Wednesday, UC Health said due to "high demand and the need to prioritize available testing supplies for the most urgent and critical needs, the amount of appointments available for our drive-thru COVID-19 testing will fluctuate each day."

"UC Health patients with non-emergent symptoms should stay at home and call their primary care physician for further information and direction," the statement read. "Please be advised that your primary care physician and our clinical staff answering our central phone line may or may not recommend testing based on the number of available supplies and the prioritization of those with the most severe health challenges."


CINCINNATI — UC Health's drive-through coronavirus testing clinic stopped accepting self-made appointments within hours of opening on Tuesday. There were simply too many calls, spokeswoman Amanda Nageleisen wrote in an email.

Earlier that day, she had written that the Clifton clinic was meant to prevent doctor's offices and emergency rooms from being overwhelmed by patients seeking tests, diagnoses and screenings connected to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By 4:30, the clinic was overwhelmed, too.

"Our drive-thru clinic is currently experiencing an incredibly high volume," read an afternoon post on the healthcare system's Facebook and Twitter pages. "Please DO NOT attempt to visit the clinic without an appointment. Call your UC Health primary care physician to discuss your symptoms and evaluate if you may need an appointment."

The only patients who will be able to access testing in Clifton will be those referred their by their doctors. The results of tests performed there will be available within 72 hours, Nageleisen wrote.

People in the city of Cincinnati who suspect they could be experiencing COVID-19 can still call the Cincinnati Health Department’s newly announced coronavirus hotline at 513-357-7462 for a recommendation on whether they should go to their doctor.

The hotline is staffed by nurses who “will assess and provide guidance on self-monitoring,” Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced Tuesday morning.

No confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in the city of Cincinnati.

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


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • 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.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana 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 37 locations 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, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.