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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

What is the coronavirus?

The coronavirus causes a viral infection. It affects the respiratory (breathing) system. You may have heard of other coronaviruses like MERS and SARS. A new strain 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 the disease caused by this new coronavirus?

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the new name of this disease is “coronavirus disease 2019”. For short, it is called COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fever.
  • 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 spread?

Coronaviruses can live in the air and on surfaces. That means they can spread like many other viruses. Sneezing, coughing, and coming in contact with an infected person can put you at risk.

What can I do to help prevent getting the coronavirus?

As of now, there are no vaccines for this coronavirus. But there are other things you can do to help prevent illness:

  • 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, then throw the tissue away immediately.
  • Keep your distance from 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. He or she can help find out what condition you have and the best way to get better. In case of an emergency, call 911.

How do I know if I am at high risk?

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?

If you have any questions about whether you should be tested, call your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. You should not go to a lab to get tested unless directed by your PCP. Your PCP will direct 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.

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

First Choice continues to monitor the latest information regarding COVID-19. We know some providers may have changed their office hours. If this happens, there may be other options to get the care you need. For example, First Choice members can now access telemedicine services.

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

  • Video chat with your PCP through 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 1-888-276-2020 (TTY 1-888-765-9586). For medical questions, call the 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-800-304-5436. For more resources and guidance, visit the Center 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.

South Carolina announces first confirmed cases of MIS-C associated with COVID-19

On July 12, 2020, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) confirmed the state’s first cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SCDHEC advise parents and caregivers to learn and watch for the symptoms of MIS-C in their children. The CDC recommends you contact your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C. The CDC also recommends you seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of the noted emergency warning signs of MIS-C. For more information about MIS-C, visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children/mis-c.html

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

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, call:

  • First Choice 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-800-304-5436.
  • 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 primary care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

Where can I go for more information?
For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus and COVID-19, visit: