Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
These are unprecedented times. As the news of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, continues to evolve, you may have questions. We have pulled together some information and resources that can help.
For information and updates on COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) website at www.scdhec.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may also include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or sense of smell. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. This list is not all-inclusive. As these symptoms can overlap conditions related to other illnesses, please consult your medical provider about any of these symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
- Learn More About COVID-19
I am not feeling well. What do I do now?
Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider for medical advice.
If you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 or you are a resident in a community where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. Tell them your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19. People who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
Not everyone will need to be tested for COVID-19. We encourage anyone who is suffering from likely COVID-19 symptoms to call their doctor to receive appropriate instructions. If you do not have a doctor, contact your nearest hospital system’s website. Most of them are offering online triage.
What is the COVID-19 test? What should I expect?
Patients have a swab – think of it as a long Q-tip – inserted through their nose to collect cells from the nasopharyngeal region.
Once the sample is taken, it is put into a sterile container and sent to a lab, where a chemical is used to pull the cells off the swab and turn the sample into a liquid form. That liquid is then put into a machine that goes through hot and cold cycles to make multiple copies of the virus’ ribonucleic acid (RNA), which carries genetic information. The machine looks to match the coronavirus RNA to determine a positive or negative result.
The availability of test results can vary from 48 hours to a four or five day wait.
Your testing site will tell you approximately how long it will take and how you will get the results of your test.
What happens if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
There is currently no FDA approved treatment for COVID-19. However, your doctor will recommend ways to manage your symptoms.
For those that have manageable symptoms, we recommend staying at home. Here are some tips:
- Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her health care provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
- Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible — think of it as a designated “sick room.” Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
- Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
For more tips, visit the CDC website.
How can I prevent getting or spreading COVID-19?
The best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene and social distancing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should do this especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with other people, especially those who are sick.
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who at higher risk of getting very sick.
Who is at higher risk of getting sick?
Because this is a new—or novel—virus, virtually everyone is at risk for getting infected. The current data shows that individuals over 65 and anyone with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of severe illness. However, people of all ages have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Even people in their 20s, 30s and 40s have had serious symptoms from the disease.
In South Carolina, the age range for COVID-19 has been 2 months to 93 years old according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Everyone should follow guidelines from the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Prevent the spread of germs. Frequent handwashing and limiting contact with others can help limit the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
- Avoid Germs
Help Stop the Spread of Illness
Did you know that there are more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold? And each new strain of the flu leads to more than 200,000 Americans being hospitalized each year?
The good news is there are steps you can take to help stop the spread of germs — not just during cold and flu season, but all year round.
Clean Hands, Healthier You
Viruses that cause colds can live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick. Make proper handwashing a habit.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and help children do the same.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel or sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Disinfect areas you often touch at home, work and school.
Cover Coughs and Sneezes
A single sneeze can spray 100,000 germs into the air. So, use a tissue if you have one, and throw it away when you’re done. Don’t have a tissue handy? Cough or sneeze into your upper arm or elbow area. Covering your mouth and nose during coughs and sneezes helps contain germs and protects others around you.
Stay home when you are sick, if you can. The more you limit your contact with others, the less chance you have of spreading germs.
If you have a fever, try to limit your contact with others for at least 24 hours after your fever has ended. Let your body rest and recover before resuming your regular routine.
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Keep Up to Date on the Latest Information
The news on COVID-19 is changing rapidly. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there. For the latest information on COVID-19, we recommend that you turn to trusted public health organizations such as:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
The CDC, NIH, DHEC and WHO are independent organizations that provide health information you may find useful.
Scams During COVID-19
As COVID-19 evolves, scammers have looked to capitalize on the pandemic. Fraudsters are targeting people in a number of ways, including door-to-door visits, social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and telemarketing.
- Here's how you can protect yourself
Potential COVID-19 Scams
As we continue to take steps to get through this pandemic, PAI would like to share our concerns regarding potential COVID-19 scams.
Fraudsters are targeting people in a number of ways, including door-to-door visits, social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and telemarketing. Below are some situations you and your family should be aware of:
- Be cautious of unsolicited requests — by phone, email or social media — asking for your personal information, including health insurance information and bank account information. Do not “confirm” or offer any information including your Social Security number (SSN), Medicare number or health insurance policy number. If your personal information is compromised, it can be used at any point for other fraud schemes.
- If you receive unexpected calls or visitors at your door offering COVID-19 supplies or tests, be cautious. Most door-to-door offers of free health care services are fraudulent.
- Ignore social media sites offering COVID-19 testing or treatments. These advertisements are most likely fraudulent. Seek testing services from your reputable local providers.
- Robocalls continue to offer free masks and/or gloves during the pandemic. Be aware and do not offer any personal information including your SSN, Medicare number or health insurance policy number.
- Other items offered by scammers include fake test kits, protective equipment, cures, pills or drug therapies that claim to make you immune.
- Be cautious of pop-up COVID-19 testing sites. Some red flags include:
- No affiliation with a local medical provider or government health department
- Offers of additional testing that will be performed beyond COVID-19
- Test sites offering free testing for Medicare recipients, extra tests for non-Medicare patients or not taking private insurance at all
PAI and our network providers are here to help assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have encountered a situation like the ones listed above and have information that could be beneficial to prevent fraud, please contact the PAI Compliance Officer at 800-768-4375, extension 3139. Please stay safe and continue to be aware and vigilant for scams during this time.