Coronoavirus Disease 19 FAQs

Coronavirus illustration

Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients, their families, visitors and our team members. We are taking all necessary precautions consistent with the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 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.

Stay-at-Home Order

May 4, 2020: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Lifts Stay-at-Home Order. As Florida slowly takes steps to reopen, Moffitt is now resuming elective procedures and surgeries. We are testing these patients for COVID-19 ahead of time to keep everyone safe. Our team is currently reaching out to reschedule procedures. If you have questions about your procedure, please contact your health care team via the Patient Portal.

Visitor Policy

In order to better protect our immunocompromised patients and team members from the risks of COVID-19, we will no longer allow visitors on campus. The more we can limit the number of people at the cancer center, the better we can prevent the spread of COVID-19. We understand how critical family members and caregivers are, and we will allow one healthy adult visitor in special circumstances. These include:

  • Patients with neurocognitive issues or who are unable to consent for themselves.
  • BMT inpatients may have one caregiver but this person must stay with the patient at all times.
  • Patients may have one visitor for comfort during end-of-life care.
  • Patients in the Intensive Care Unit may have one visitor for two hours each day.
  • Surgical and endoscopy patients may have one caregiver with them on the day of the procedure. Caregivers may accompany the patient to their inpatient room if needed and may stay for two hours. The no visitor policy will apply throughout the remainder of the hospitalization.

Patients with mobility issues will be escorted to their appointments and across the cancer center by Moffitt team members. We have additional staff to assist our patients who use wheelchairs and walkers. 

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.

Parking on Campus for Caregivers. For visitors on the USF campus who prefer to wait nearby, please park in Lot 47 near the corner of USF Magnolia and USF Alumni drives, which is 0.4 miles south of the hospital at the Magnolia campus.

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 at the entrances of Moffitt’s patient care buildings. We are taking temperature readings and asking about respiratory symptoms and whether you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Masks will be available for all patients. 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.

Reevaluating Appointments

Moffitt had been carefully delaying or postponing elective surgeries, procedures and appointments. Now that Florida is reopening and hospitals are allowed to resume elective procedures, our schedulers are reaching out to patients who have been affected. We are also testing these patients for COVID-19 ahead of time for everyone’s safety. If you have questions about your procedure or cancer treatment, please contact your health care team via the Patient Portal.

Patients who are unable to travel to Moffitt for upcoming appointments should also contact their health care team via the Patient Portal to determine if you are eligible for virtual visits and to determine next steps for care.

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.

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 July 1, 2020, all Moffitt-sponsored conferences and community events held at the cancer center will be postponed or canceled. We have also restricted all international and domestic business travel outside of Florida for our team members. Within Florida, only business-related travel that is essential for ongoing Moffitt operations is permitted.

Some patient support groups will host virtual meetings through July 1. Click here for the latest updates on support groups. The Patient and Family Welcome Centers, as well as the Arts In Medicine studios, at the Magnolia and McKinley campuses will remain closed.

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. A doctor’s recommendation is required for the COVID-19 test.

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?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

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.
  • We are no longer allowing visitors on campus to further protect our patients and staff. Please note our limited exceptions above.
  • We are taking temperature readings and have implemented a patient and visitor questionnaire screening process at our entrances to identify anyone with signs and symptoms of respiratory illness and applicable travel or contact history with COVID-19.
  • With Florida reopening, Moffitt is rescheduling elective procedures and surgeries. We are testing these patients for COVID-19 ahead of time 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.
  • All Moffitt-sponsored conferences and community events held at the cancer center will be postponed or canceled through July 1, 2020.
  • We have restricted all international and domestic business travel outside of Florida for our team members. Within Florida, only business-related travel that is essential for ongoing Moffitt operations is permitted.
  • 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 limiting meetings and gatherings to no more than 10 people and 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?

For older adults and patients with underlying health conditions — such as those on chemotherapy or who are immunosuppressed — the CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to destinations with level 3 travel notices because of the risk of getting COVID-19.

  • Cruises: The CDC recommends travelers defer all cruise ship travel at this time. Cruises put large numbers of people often from around the world in frequent and close contact with one another. This can promote the spread of respiratory viruses. Discuss cruise ship travel with your health care provider before traveling.
  • Long plane trips: Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, it’s best to avoid long flights. If you are on a plane, try to avoid contact with sick passengers, and wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol.

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 July 1 to better protect our patients.

Does this include patient and caregiver supports groups and patient and family orientation?

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.