Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

What is the coronavirus?

The coronavirus causes a viral infection. It hurts the respiratory (breathing) system. You may have heard of other coronaviruses like MERS and SARS. A new type of the coronavirus is now in the United States. This is the virus on the news that first showed up in China.

What is the name of this new disease?

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls this disease “coronavirus disease 2019.” For short, it is called COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms can be from mild to very bad. These symptoms may start two to 14 days after being around the virus. People with one or more of these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or a hard time breathing.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Repeated shaking with chills.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

 How do coronaviruses get passed around?

People can pass coronaviruses to other people. Sneezing, coughing, and being around people with the virus can put you at risk. The virus can also be in the air and on things that you touch.

What can I do to help not get the coronavirus?

As of now, there are no vaccines (shots) for this coronavirus. But there are things you can do to help keep from getting it:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Disinfect surfaces in your home and workplace.
  • Cover your face with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue away immediately.
  • Try not to be near people who are sick.
  • Wear a cloth mask to cover your nose and mouth in public places. This can help you and other people to keep from getting the virus.

What do I do if I think I’m getting sick?

If you think you are getting sick, call your primary care provider (PCP). He or she can help find out why you feel that way. Your PCP will know how to help you feel better. In case of an emergency, call 911.

How do I know if I am at high risk for COVID-19?

Older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These medical conditions include:

  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant.
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher).
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Children who are medically complex; have neurologic, genetic, or metabolic conditions; or have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.

COVID-19 is a new disease. Right now there is not a lot of information about COVID-19. But people with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe).
  • Cerebrovascular disease (disease affecting blood vessels and blood supply to the brain).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure.
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune-weakening medicines.
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia.
  • Liver disease.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissue).
  • Smoking.
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder).
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

I am pregnant. Am I at high risk?

Pregnant people may be at higher risk for illness from COVID-19. Pregnant women should follow the same prevention tips as other people.

Where can I get tested?

Call your primary care provider (PCP) if you want to find out about testing. Your PCP will know if you need to be tested for COVID-19. Your PCP will tell you where to go for testing. There may be testing at no cost in your area. You can also check with your local health department to find out more information. [Insert link/phone number to local health department resources]

My PCP’s office is closed and I need medical care. Who can I see?

We are keeping up with the latest information about COVID-19. We know some PCPs may have changed their office hours. If this happens, there may be other ways to get the care you need. Our members can try telemedicine services.

Telemedicine means you can connect with a provider outside of the office. If your PCP’s office is closed, ask if you can:

  • Video chat with your PCP using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Text with your PCP through a secure web portal.
  • Talk to your PCP by phone.

Some PCPs may not offer these services. If you can’t get in contact with your PCP, we can help connect you to another provider.

For questions about telemedicine or help finding a provider, call Member Services at 1-833-704-1177 (TTY 1-855-534-6730). For medical questions, call the 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-855-216-6065. For more resources and guidance, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 homepage.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means keeping space between you and other people when you are outside of your home. Keep distance (at least 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when you can.

I am feeling stressed out about the coronavirus. What can I do?

If you or someone you care about have feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety, call:

  • Nurse Call Line at 1-855-216-6065.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY 1-800-846-8517).

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911.

Call your PCP if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for many days in a row.

Where can I go to find out more about COVID-19?
The best places to learn more about COVID-19 are: