If you have symptoms of COVID-19, how can you get tested for the coronavirus?
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus or think you may have been exposed, consult with a medical professional by phone.
- HealthJoy members can access our Coronavirus Self-Checker to determine how best to take care of themselves or their family using the latest CDC guidance.
- Call your doctor if you experience fever, shortness of breath, or coughing. See “treatment” below for more.
- Even if you have symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, you may not be able to find testing due to test shortages. .
- If you have mild symptoms and are at low risk, the CDC generally does not recommend getting a test. Isolate yourself and monitor your symptoms at home.
- The CDC issued additional guidance on who should be tested, but ultimately the decision to test is up to state and local governments and individual medical providers
How can you get treatment for COVID-19?
- Having the novel coronavirus does not mean you will develop COVID-19, the disease it causes.
- You may be asymptomatic for up to two weeks before developing the disease.
- The CDC advises that since testing is in short supply, people with mild illnesses may not need to be tested. Instead, they recommend staying home while you are sick and reaching out for an online medical consultation (telemedicine) if you are concerned about your symptoms.
- Here are 10 ways to care for yourself at home.
- If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing:
- Review the Coronavirus Self-Checker in the HealthJoy app by tapping “COVID-19” in the menu. Or, use the CDC’s coronavirus self-checker and consult with a medical professional by phone.
- If you cannot call your regular provider, you may be able to call an online medical consultation service provided by your insurance company (or through HealthJoy, if you are a member). Refer to your healthcare provider or state health department for guidance.
- Do not show up at a doctor’s office without calling first. They will need an advanced warning to prepare for your arrival.
- Your healthcare provider or state health department can help you decide whether you should be tested, provide a testing order, and direct you where to go.
- Whether or not you are tested, if you have COVID-19 symptoms, follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department and:
- Wear cloth face-covering whenever you are around other people at home.
- Stay home except to get care.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Isolate yourself to a separate “sick bedroom” and use a different bathroom, if possible.
- Sanitize home surfaces.
- Follow CDC guidelines for quarantine and for keeping your home clean for your roommates or family.
- Get medical attention immediately if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Emergency warning signs can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
- If you seek emergency care, inform emergency medical personnel that you believe you have COVID-19.
- Apps like Smart911 may make it easier for medical personnel to treat you in case of an emergency.
When is it safe to go outside after quarantine? The CDC suggests people follow these procedures for ending home isolation due to illness.
- If they will not have a test to determine if they are still contagious, they can leave home after these three things have happened:
- They have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND
- Other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
- at least 7 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared
- If they will be tested to determine if they are still contagious, they can leave home after these three things have happened:
- They no longer have a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
- Other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
- They received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Their doctor will follow CDC guidelines.
- They no longer have a fever (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
Social Distancing and Sheltering in Place
To slow the spread of coronavirus, the CDC advises everyone in the US to practice social distancing, maintaining a distance of 6 feet between themselves and other people. Many state and local governments have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. You can learn more from your local government, but in general, these orders advise people to stay home unless they are an essential worker or are running essential errands.
- According to the CDC, social distancing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Most cities and states have enacted some sort of “shelter in place” or “stay home” order to promote social distancing.
- During shelter in place, you will be asked to stay home for all but necessary trips, such as picking up food, groceries, or medication.
- Your state and local authorities can advise about specific shelter-in-place restrictions in your city, which may include the closure of public areas like parks.
- The CDC recommends additional restrictions if you are at high risk. The high-risk group includes those over 65, with chronic disease, or those who are immunocompromised.
- If you need help obtaining groceries, medications, or assistance while staying at home, this list of resources from Comfort Keepers contains resources.
Mental Health During COVID-19
The pandemic creates feelings of fear, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety for so many of us. Others are under increased stress due to job loss, child or eldercare responsibilities, or the reality of being cooped up with friends and family. During this time, it’s important to reach out for help.
- This Harvard Medical School article includes videos for coping with stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.
- Practice self-care; this Harvard Medical School article provides six helpful self-care tips.
- If you are struggling with mental illness, speak to a medical provider.
- If you are enrolled in an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, it includes resources for counseling. If you are a HealthJoy member, learn about your EAP options by visiting the wallet in the HealthJoy app. Reach out to your HR department with any questions.
- The National Alliance for Mental Illness provides coronavirus-specific resources and suggestions for coping while practicing social distancing.
Staying healthy at home
Stay-at-home orders shattered many of our routines. With the whole family crammed inside, gyms closed, and movement restricted, we’re all struggling to stay on track. Yet our health is more important than ever. It’s worth investing time to develop new, healthy routines—while remembering we’re all just doing our best.
- Prioritize healthy eating – it’s okay to stock up on essentials, but fresh foods are healthier (especially if you find yourself with more time to cook!).
- Make a new workout routine — walking or running outside while maintaining a safe distance, using free online workouts, or streaming a class from your favorite gym can help get you moving.
- Limit screen time – more time inside can mean more screen time, but try to limit your consumption before bed to improve sleep. Instead, turn to a puzzle, craft, board game, or book.
- Prioritize mental health – this might mean cutting news consumption, connecting with friends or loved ones via video chat, or beginning a meditation practice. If you need help, reach out. You can access free counseling resources through your EAP, or, if you are struggling with mental illness, speak to a medical provider.
- Keep your space clean – clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces like cabinet handles, doorknobs, and faucet handles daily.
- This list from TIME includes helpful tips and perspective on staying healthy at home.
Cloth face coverings
When should you wear a cloth face-covering in public?
- The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public to stop the spread of coronavirus, especially in places like the grocery store or pharmacy where other social distancing measures can be difficult.
- Some local governments may have different rules for wearing cloth face coverings. Check with your state or local government to see what they advise.
- Cloth face coverings are not the same as protective masks, which should be reserved for healthcare professionals or those whose doctors have recommended they wear them.
- There are many patterns available to make your own cloth face coverings:
- The CDC has tutorials for a sewn and no-sew cloth face covering
- The New York Times offers this printable pattern for cloth face coverings
Caring for a loved one
Many people sick with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and can recover at home. You may find yourself caring for a sick loved one during the pandemic.
- If your loved one is sick with COVID-19 (or suspects they may be sick) isolate them as much as possible. If it is an option, the CDC recommends they stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom.
- Wear a mask when caring for your loved one, and avoid contact as much as possible. For instance, leave food on a tray outside their room rather than bringing it to them.
- Disinfect your home. Sanitize all the surfaces they use regularly with an EPA-approved cleaner.
- Any family members in contact with the sick person will need to isolate themselves for at least 14 days without symptoms (see ending self-quarantine).
Running necessary errands
While sheltering in place, it may still be necessary to leave the house to run essential errands. These are CDC guidelines for limiting your risk and exposure while running these types of errands.
- Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup (if possible). Do your banking online.
- Check with your doctor and pharmacist to see if you can get a larger supply of your medicines so you do not have to visit the pharmacy as often.
- When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours.
- Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad or gas pump, use hand sanitizer right after paying. Use hand sanitizer when you leave the store. Wash your hands when you get home.
- After leaving the store, pharmacy, or gas station use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill. There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.
- Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.
- After receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Use telemedicine, if available, or communicate with your doctor or nurse by phone or e-mail.
- Talk to your doctor about rescheduling procedures that are not urgently needed. If you must visit in-person, protect yourself and others. Let the office know if you believe you have COVID-19. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
Economic Impact Payments for Individuals
In March, the US government passed an economic stimulus bill called the CARES Act. The economic stimulus bill included payments for individual taxpayers. These are details from the IRS:
- U.S. residents will receive the Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 for individual or head of household filers, and $2,400 for married filing jointly if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security number with adjusted gross income up to:
- $75,000 for individuals
- $112,500 for a head of household filers and
- $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns
- Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their AGI is between:
- $75,000 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately
- 112,500 and $136,500 for a head of household
- $150,000 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly
- The amount of the reduced payment will be based upon the taxpayer’s specific adjusted gross income.
- Eligible retirees and recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement, disability or veterans’ benefits as well as taxpayers who do not make enough money to normally have to file a tax return will receive a payment. This also includes those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from certain benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income benefits.
- Retirees who receive either Social Security retirement or Railroad Retirement benefits will also receive payments automatically.
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