COVID-19 Basics

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in people. The name of this new respiratory disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

The virus is thought to spread from one person to another through respiratory droplets. These droplets are produced when someone with the illness coughs or sneezes. The droplets can be inhaled, land in the mouths or noses of people nearby and can persist for a short period of time on some surfaces. It generally takes prolonged and close (fewer than six feet away) contact to become infected.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC), information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild. However, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness. Older people and people with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Symtoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Treatment

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 and no antiviral treatment recommended for it, people with COVID-19 may receive care to help relieve symptoms.

Prevent the Spread of Illness

There are things you can do to prevent the spread of illness. According to the CDC, you should:  

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Studies show there is no added health benefit to using antibacterial soap compared to plain soap in a non-health care setting. 
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. 
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
     

What to Do If You Are Sick

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, or if you have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19, contact your doctor before you attempt to see anyone in person. You can tell your health care provider your symptoms and he or she can give you instructions on how to get your medical needs addressed while minimizing the risk of exposure to yourself and others.

  • People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 can isolate at home during their illness. When under home isolation, you should:
  • Stay at home, except for getting medical care. 
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas. 
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home and avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Monitor your symptoms and seek medical care if your illness gets worse. 

Should you have life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If possible, put on a face mask before seeking emergency medical care.

*The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an independent organization that provides health information you may find useful.


COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in people. The name of this new respiratory disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

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. Please consult your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

How dangerous is this virus?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC), COVID-19 can affect anyone and can cause symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. People with high risk factors and underlying health conditions — such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — may be more likely to need hospitalization if they have COVID-19.

How is the virus passed from one person to another?

Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. The virus is thought to spread from one person to another through respiratory droplets. These droplets are produced when someone with the illness coughs or sneezes. The droplets can be inhaled, land in the mouths or noses of people nearby and can persist for a short period of time on some surfaces. It generally takes close (fewer than 6 feet away) contact to become infected.

How can I prevent the spread of the coronavirus or other respiratory viruses?

There are things you can do to prevent the spread of illness. According to the CDC, you should:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Studies show there is no added health benefit to using antibacterial soap compared to plain soap in a non-health care setting.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. 
  • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask or cloth face covering when you are outside your home.

What should I do if I may have been exposed to or think I am sick with COVID-19?

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, or if you have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19, contact your doctor before you attempt to see anyone in person. You can tell your health care provider your symptoms and he or she can give you instructions on how to get your medical needs addressed while minimizing the risk of exposure to yourself and others.

There currently is no cure for this virus, so managing mild symptoms at home may be your best option to prevent further spread of the disease. Of course, should you have life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If possible, put on a face mask before seeking emergency medical care.


COVID-19 Related Benefits Information for Members

Is the coronavirus test covered under my insurance?

BlueCross is working with providers, state health officials and the CDC to make sure COVID-19 testing will be covered. Most employers’ plans will cover this testing at no cost to the patient, but please check your benefits to be certain. You can log in to send an electronic inquiry to Customer Service, or you can call Customer Service at the number on the back of your ID card.

Are there any prior authorizations required for COVID-19 treatment?

Most health plans will not require prior authorizations for treatment of COVID-19 related conditions. If so, when a member is admitted into the hospital, the hospital will follow revised notification requirements. Please check your benefits to be certain. You can log in to send an electronic inquiry to Customer Service, or you can call Customer Service at the number on the back of your ID card.

Could my prescriptions be impacted? Can I buy more than my usual refill limit or get them filled early?

BlueCross is closely monitoring any potential medication access issues to make sure our members get the medications they need in a timely manner.

BlueCross members who have mail-order pharmacy benefits are encouraged to consider using them. For members who have concerns about running out of medications we recommend they first contact their doctor or pharmacist. Members can call the customer service number on the back of their ID cards for benefit-related questions.

*The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an independent organization that provides health information you may find useful.