SAN CARLOS (KPIX 5) — Doctors are urging people to pay extra close attention to some key symptoms that might help determine if someone is at risk of having contracted the coronavirus versus a common cold or flu.

“The coronavirus is causing respiratory symptoms. So, certainly if you’re having respiratory symptoms — again cough, shortness of breath — if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms you should definitely be talking to your primary care provider’s office,” says Dr. Rob Nordgren, CEO of the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation.

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Dr. Nordgren says the novel coronavirus can mimic the symptoms of other common ailments like a cold or flu. But if you’ve spiked a fever, have a cough and are short of breath, Dr. Nordgren says err of the side of caution and contact your doctor’s office immediately.

Fears and anxieties have spread alongside the widening epidemic, fundamentally reshaping how people are working and living, at least temporarily.

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“I was packed, ready to go, bags at the door Friday evening to go from San Francisco to Miami for a cruise. But then I was talking with my parents and looking at precautions. I didn’t want to get stuck,” said Mallori Macklin.

Macklin says she’s become hyper-aware of her health, never straying far from the hand sanitizer she often carried even before the outbreak.

In anticipation of a surge of cases and perhaps even for calls from the worried well, Sutter Health in San Carlos has set up a drive-through clinic for people to be examined for the virus.

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“Some of those patients can be cared for in their cars. We can do a basic assessment that way,” Dr. Nordgren said. The drive-through clinic is for Sutter Health patients. The healthcare system is urging patients to contact their doctor before simply showing up. They say it’s possible a healthcare worker can help you on the phone or online without treating you in person.