Coronoavirus Disease 19 FAQs

Coronavirus illustration

Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients, their families and our team members. We are basing our protocols on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moffitt is the safest place for cancer patients to receive the best care.

Please see the frequently asked questions below. We will update this with any new developments. Patients with questions or concerns should contact your health care team via the Patient Portal or by calling 1-888-663-3488.

Visitor Policy

For the safety of our patients, Moffitt Cancer Center will continue to enforce a limited visitor policy and universal masking in our patient care facilities. Although the CDC has relaxed guidance for vaccinated individuals in many settings and community case rates continue to decline, hospitals like Moffitt are still held to higher standards to protect those who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Visitor Policy. As of June 10, 2021, the following visitor policies are in effect:

Outpatient appointments: One healthy adult visitor allowed, including in infusion bays.

Inpatients: Two healthy adult visitors allowed, and one visitor may stay overnight in the hospital. Please note, children are not allowed on campus.

Visitors must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry
  • Remain in patient rooms or with the patient throughout the appointment unless otherwise directed by a member of the staff
  • Remain fully masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Surgeries

  • Surgical patients may have two healthy adult visitors, and one visitor may stay overnight in the hospital.

Endoscopies

  • Endoscopy patients may have one caregiver with them on the day of the procedure. 
  • Caregivers may accompany the patient to their inpatient room (if applicable).

Urgent Care

  • One healthy adult visitor may remain with the patient.

BMT Patients in the Hospital

  • BMT inpatients may have one designated caregiver that must stay with the patient for the entire time of their hospitalization.

End-of-Life Care and Support

  • Patients may have two caregivers for comfort when end of life is imminent.

All patients and visitors will be screened at Moffitt entrances. Masks must be worn at all times on campus, per Moffitt policy and in accordance with the Hillsborough County mask mandate. Failure to wear a mask may result in the visitor being asked to leave or being escorted from campus. Visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines in place in all waiting areas.

Thank you for your understanding as we take these necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Stay Connected with Loved Ones. When possible, we encourage you to use your smartphones to stay in touch with your family and loved ones during your visit. Moffitt can also set up Zoom video conferencing for loved ones to join appointments virtually. Click here to see more details on how to stay connected with loved ones during your time at Moffitt.

Self-Parking for Patients. Moffitt has reserved a limited number of spaces at Gold Valet on USF’s campus for patients to self-park. Please request this with the valet upon arrival.

Hotel Day Rates for Caregivers. The following hotels are offering day rates for family members and caregivers waiting for patients receiving outpatient treatment at Moffitt.

Wingate by Wyndham Tampa/At USF
3751 E. Fowler Ave.
813-867-2878

Rate: $40 + tax
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card only
Included: Wi-Fi and parking
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Home2 Suites by Hilton Tampa USF
11606 N. McKinley Drive
813-750-8844

Rate: $59 + tax
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card or cash
Included: Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast during breakfast hours, pool
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Residence Inn Tampa at USF/Medical Center
13420 N. Telecom Parkway
813-972-4400

Rate: $59 + tax
Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card only
Included: Wi-Fi and parking
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Publix Pharmacy at Moffitt

The Publix pharmacies at the Magnolia and McKinley campuses are offering curbside service to assist patients and caregivers with medication pickup. Most patients also have the option to transfer their prescriptions to other Publix pharmacy locations in your communities. Additionally, many insurance companies are allowing patients to obtain several months’ worth of prescriptions during this time. For your safety, we encourage you to take advantage of this option for maintenance medications to reduce unnecessary travel. 

Patients are encouraged to download the Publix Pharmacy app and prepay for your orders to expedite the process. For those picking up prescriptions from a Publix Pharmacy at Moffitt, please call to ensure your prescriptions are ready before traveling to the cancer center. You can also check the status using the Publix Pharmacy app. Once you arrive at the valet, please call the appropriate Publix pharmacy and a team member will bring the medications out to your vehicle.  

  • Publix Pharmacy at the Moffitt Magnolia Campus (USF) – 813-745-8484
  • Publix Pharmacy at the McKinley Outpatient Center – 813-978-1694
Screening for Patients, Visitors

We have enhanced our protocols and are screening all patients and caregivers at the entrances of Moffitt’s patient care buildings. We are taking temperature readings and asking about COVID-19 symptoms.

Masks must be worn at all times on campus, per Moffitt policy and in accordance with the Hillsborough County mask mandate. Failure to wear a mask may result in the visitor being asked to leave or being escorted from campus. Wearing a mask is for everyone’s safety, including other patients and our staff. We realize this may cause disruptions, but please understand the important measures we are taking to keep you, your family and our team members safe. We are limiting patient entry points to the main entrances of:

  • Red and Blue Valet at the Moffitt Cancer Center hospital on USF’s campus
  • Gold Valet at the Muriel Rothman Clinic Building on USF’s campus
  • Moffitt Research Center on USF’s campus
  • Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at the McKinley campus
  • Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza

Please note, the Gold and Blue valet parking entrances on USF’s campus will close at 7 p.m. After 7 p.m., please enter through the Red Valet hospital entrance instead.

If you have an upcoming appointment and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please call the Patient Care Hotline at 813-745-8000 before coming to Moffitt:

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

 

What if I Want to Postpone my Appointment?

What if I Want to Postpone my Appointment?

Contact your health care team via the Patient Portal to determine if you are eligible for virtual visits and other options.

Learn more: Patient Appointments FAQ

Mask Donations

Moffitt Cancer Center is accepting donations of homemade masks and mask making materials to align with the recently updated CDC guidelines. Masks and materials can be dropped off at the designated collection bins at Gold Valet on Moffitt’s Magnolia campus (12902 USF Magnolia Drive, Tampa FL 33612) outside of the Stabile Research Building.  Donors can also ship masks to Volunteer Services:

Volunteer Services
12902 USF Magnolia Drive
GRD-VOL
Tampa FL 33612

Please label your donations with your name and contact information. Donated masks will be distributed to all Moffitt locations.  

Questions? Email VolunteerServices@Moffitt.org.

Social Distancing

Moffitt is taking additional precautions to ensure the health and safety of our patients by limiting exposure as much as possible. Through June 30, 2021, all Moffitt-sponsored conferences and community events at the cancer center will be hosted virtually. This includes retreats, conferences, symposiums and patient support groups. If these events cannot be hosted virtually, they will be postponed or canceled. We have also restricted all international business travel for our team members. 

Some patient support groups are hosting virtual meetings. Click here for the latest updates on support groups

What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and experiences difficulty breathing.

Who can get COVID-19?

People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. However, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions including blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to this virus.

 
   
 
  
      
   
   
 
I Have Cancer. Am I at Increased Risk?

All individuals with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Here are four things cancer patients need to know:

  • Take preventive measures. COVID-19 is one of many coronaviruses out there that are common and cause mild illnesses that many would call the common cold. To help prevent disease, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneezes, stay home when you’re not feeling well, and call your health care provider when you have concerns about your health.
  • Get the flu shot. It’s flu season, and patients with cancer need to take this into account. Certain therapies such as targeted drugs, steroids and immunosuppressive therapies can reduce immunity. People with cancer who develop the flu may need to delay chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
  • Only testing can determine if you have COVID-19. The main symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and a runny nose. Because these symptoms are similar to other common illnesses, health care professionals might misdiagnose or patients might not report symptoms. The only way to tell if a patient has COVID-19 is through CDC testing.
  • Cancer drugs manufactured overseas are OK. It’s understandable that patients with cancer may have concerns about treatments that come through China. At this time, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers do not expect the spread of COVID-19 to impact their ability to produce drugs or affect supplies. The CDC says there is no evidence supporting the transmission of the disease through imported goods.
Should I Cancel my Treatment or Follow-up Appointments at Moffitt?

If you have a scheduled appointment at Moffitt and have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community or are experiencing respiratory symptoms, please call the Patient Care Hotline at 813-745-8000 before your upcoming appointment so we can plan appropriately. You’ll receive guidance and learn about eligibility for virtual visits. This will help us keep you safe, as well as the team members caring for you.

What Should I do if I Have Symptoms? What About a Family Member?

If you develop a high fever, deep dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, please stay home and call your primary care provider and clinic at Moffitt for guidance. If you feel ill enough to go to the emergency room, call ahead and let them know you have respiratory symptoms so they can provide guidelines and protect you when you arrive. If you would like to take a COVID-19 test, contact your health care provider or check with your local and state health departments on testing sites. Prescriptions are not required at all facilities, but you may need to pre-register or make an appointment.

What if a family member develops symptoms?

If someone in your household is sick, keep your distance. Wear gloves while caring for your sick family member and have them sleep in a different room if possible. Wipe down surfaces with bleach wipes and wash your hands often. Call your Moffitt clinic to inform them of the situation. To protect our patients, do not bring a sick family member to your appointment at Moffitt.

How Does the Virus Spread? Is it Treatable?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet from a person who is sick.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Yes, these are the vaccines authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19:

Effective April 13: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommend pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Is there treatment?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with the virus can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. Roughly 4 out of 5 of those infected experience only mild symptoms.

How Can I Protect Myself? How is Moffitt Protecting Patients, Families and Visitors?
  • Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Stay home when sick

How is Moffitt Protecting Patients, Families and Visitors?

  • Moffitt is monitoring updates from the CDC and Florida Department of Health.
  • As we monitor the pandemic, we are continually adjusting our visitor policy to best protect our patients and staff. Please click here for the latest updates
  • We are taking temperature readings and have implemented a patient questionnaire screening process at our entrances to identify anyone with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 illness. Masks will be provided to patients and visitors and must be worn at all times while on campus.
  • Please adhere to all social distancing guidelines in place at the cancer center. If waiting rooms are congested, you may be redirected to other waiting areas.
  • Moffitt is testing all patients for COVID-19 ahead of appointments and procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Moffitt follows CDC guidelines for all cleaning and disinfection procedures. This includes frequent disinfection of high touch surfaces and restrooms with wipes that are effective against coronavirus. We are conducting deep cleanings of the hospital every evening.
  • The valet staff is disinfecting steering wheels and using hand sanitizer before and after parking each car. Keys are being disinfected at valet stands.
  • Moffitt has reserved a limited number of spaces at Gold Valet on USF’s campus for patients to self-park. Please request this with the valet upon arrival.
  • Wheelchairs are being disinfected between each use, and wipes are available in valet areas for this purpose.
  • Magnolias Salon is open with limited menu options consisting of basic services, head-shaves, wig consults, in-patient shampoos and retail therapy items. Visitation is restricted to one guest at a time, and high touch surface disinfection is performed after each service. Call Magnolias Salon at 813-745-7299 for questions and operational changes.
  • Through June 30, 2021, all Moffitt-sponsored conferences and community events at the cancer center will be hosted virtually. If these events cannot be hosted virtually, they will be postponed or canceled.
  • We have restricted all international business travel for our team members.
  • Moffitt is limiting traffic to patient care buildings to essential staff only to minimize the number of people in patient care areas. We are also encouraging team members to have meals in staff break areas instead of the cafeteria.
  • Moffitt is also encouraging virtual meetings when possible.

What preparations has Moffitt made to handle a cancer patient with COVID-19?

Cancer patients have unique needs, and we are confident Moffitt is the safest place for patients to come if complications arise from their disease. Moffitt is working closely with state and federal agencies and taking all COVID-19 precautions from the CDC. Our clinical staff is reviewing strict protocols to manage patients with COVID-19 from the time they enter the cancer center to isolation and testing.

Should I be Worried about Upcoming Travel?

Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. Please see the latest CDC travel health notices here and more frequently asked questions about travel.

Has Moffitt Canceled Events? What Else is Canceled?

Moffitt is canceling or postponing all events at the cancer center through June 30, 2021, to better protect our patients.

Does this include patient and caregiver supports groups?

Yes. Patient support groups will not be held in person, but certain groups will host virtual meetings by phone instead. Click here for a list of support groups impacted by these changes. If you have questions, please check with the event organizer. To watch our patient and family orientation videos online, click here. Moffitt is proceeding with all meetings and gatherings that are essential to patient care and hospital operations.

Should Cancer Patients and Survivors Avoid Public Transportation and Large Events?

Patients in active treatment should avoid public transportation when possible. If you need to use public transportation, do what you can to protect yourself. Sit in the back or other areas with less exposure, and stay away from others who exhibit respiratory symptoms. When it comes to events, use caution in public places and limit close interactions. Stay at home when possible.

What is the Cost of a COVID-19 Test?
For patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $77 at Moffitt Cancer Center.
Should cancer patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective and safest vaccines ever developed. It is safe for most patients to receive the vaccine. However, for some patients in active treatment that causes immunosuppression, the vaccine may not be effective. See the COVID-19 Vaccine page for more details.

Moffitt is conducting research into the effectiveness and durability of the vaccine in cancer patients. If you have questions about the vaccine and how it fits within your treatment plan, please contact your care team through the message center within the patient portal by visiting My.Moffitt.org. Your care team will respond to your message after reviewing your medical history. For patient portal assistance, please call 813-745-8000.

It is also important not to delay any treatment for cancer in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are a cancer survivor, it should be safe for you to receive the vaccine. If you have concerns, you should talk to your oncologist or primary care physician.

When will the COVID-19 vaccine be available for cancer patients?

Patients in active treatment or those who are being followed through regular appointments with a treating physician are eligible to receive a vaccine at Moffitt Cancer Center. Cancer patients over age 16 or 18, depending on the vaccine manufacturer, may be vaccinated at Moffitt.

Malignant Hematology patients should be in remission or have a stable (nonprogressing) cancer on chronic therapy or observation before receiving the vaccine. Blood Marrow Transplant patients should wait at least 90 days after their transplant or CAR T therapy.

If you have questions about the vaccine and how it fits within your treatment plan, please contact your care team through the message center within the MyMoffitt Patient Portal. Your care team will respond after reviewing your medical history. For portal assistance, please call 813-745-8000.

How much does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

Patients will not be billed for the vaccine. Moffitt will bill the charge for administering the vaccine to insurance plans. For self-pay patients, we will adjust off the vaccine and administration charges. 

 

Which vaccines are available at Moffitt?

Moffitt has administered both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Availability of each depends on the shipments we receive. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused and is not available at Moffitt.

Are you over 65 and able to get the vaccine in your community?

If you have access to the COVID-19 vaccine from local health officials, don’t wait to receive one from Moffitt. If you have questions about the vaccine and how it fits within your treatment plan, please contact your care team through the message center within the patient portal by visiting My.Moffitt.org. Your care team will respond to your message after reviewing your medical history. For patient portal assistance, please call 813-745-8000.