What You Need to Know about Coronavirus
And what you can do to help stay safe
This article was last updated on April 6, 2020.
A novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 – has reached pandemic levels around the world, changing all of our lives. Since this is a new virus, no one has immunity and it is spreading rapidly. Although some people may have no symptoms, others do have symptoms, which can include fever, cough, and muscle aches. Unfortunately, this can also develop into pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, leading to death for some people. Although severe symptoms are more likely in older individuals and those with chronic conditions, younger people are also experiencing significant symptoms.
On March 14, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency to free up federal resources to combat the Coronavirus in the United States. Individual states are also responding through their departments of health and by enacting initiatives, such as school closures, to slow the spread of the disease and to protect the health of the community.
There is a test that can diagnose this specific cause of illness, but limited supplies have meant that testing has been reserved for those most likely to have the Coronavirus -- individuals with known exposures or specific symptoms. Testing capacity is increasing, but everyone is advised to CALL their doctor, the local urgent care center or the emergency room before going in for testing. It is important to follow any protocols regarding where to go, what doors to use and what precautions to take.
Testing capacity is increasing, but everyone is advised to CALL their doctor, the local urgent care center or the emergency room before going in for testing. You can also call your state department of health for further information:
• The Massachusetts Department of Health – information and referral hotline 2-1-1
• The Rhode Island Department of Public Health – 401-222-8022 (or 2-1-1 after hours)
Coronavirus testing is covered at no cost to you, so do not let that be a deterrent.
What can you do to help stay safe?
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Avoid large groups and maintain social distancing.
- Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Everyone needs to keep everyone else safe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the use of non-medical, cloth-based face coverings in some public settings. Surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
- Continue healthy habits, even as life changes. Take your medicines regularly, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and take walks.
- Support each other by staying connected through phone calls, text messages, email, social media and other means. Reach out to family, friends and neighbors who may live alone.
What should you do if you feel sick?
- If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms, you should call your health care provider before going to a health care facility.
- Many providers offer telehealth services. Ask your primary care provider if they do. All out-of-pocket costs for telehealth visits with network providers related to the Coronavirus will be waived until further notice. This also includes telephone consultations. Telehealth enables members to make inquiries regarding symptoms or treatment for the Coronavirus in order to reduce the need for members to go to medical offices where the risk of exposure to the Coronavirus may be higher. This will also apply to members of our self-funded groups that have not opted-out.
- Also, until further notice, members who access primary care or behavioral health services from Tufts Health Plan network providers via telehealth (unrelated to the Coronavirus) will have no cost share.*
- Tufts Health Plan Commercial members (not including Direct) can also use our telehealth solution powered by Teladoc. With telehealth from Teladoc, members can access U.S.-based, board-certified providers for general medical needs and diagnoses from anywhere in the world and for $0 copay for plans issued or renewed in 2020. Members can contact a Teladoc doctor 24/7 if they’re concerned about their symptoms or have questions about the Coronavirus. Until further notice, there will be no member cost for this service for our members, including members of self-funded groups that have elected this benefit and have not opted-out of cost sharing modifications.*
Where can I find out more?
You can call the Member Services phone number on your ID card for help with questions about access to health care services. Or call our 24-hour Nurse line at 866.201.7919 with clinical questions.
For more information about Coronavirus, you can visit the following sites: