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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.

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Repeated shaking with chills.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • New loss of taste or smell.

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.
  • Don’t touch your face, nose, or mouth.
  • Cover your face with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw the tissue away.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.

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 people and people with pre-existing medical conditions are at high risk. Those conditions include:

  • Asthma.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease.

I am pregnant. Am I at high risk?

There are no reports about the risk to pregnant women and children from COVID-19. This is something that is still being studied. 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.

Is coronavirus testing covered under my benefits and services?

Yes, as long as it is ordered by your health care provider.

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

First Choice continues to monitor the latest information regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). We know some providers may have closed their offices. 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 CDC COVID-19 homepage.

What is social distancing?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing means:

  • Stay out of crowded places.
  • Avoid group gatherings.
  • Maintain distance (about 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when you can.

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: