What You Need to Know about Coronavirus

And what you can do

February 24, 2020  

This article is up-to-date as of February 24, 2020.

Coronaviruses can cause a range of symptoms. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia. A new form of the virus - named COVID 19 - has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. Unfortunately this new coronavirus has led to deaths in individuals, mostly in those with co-existing medical conditions.

Coronavirus is still very rare in the U.S. There is a test that can diagnose this specific cause of illness, so quarantines can be applied specifically for those with coronavirus.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and health departments are taking the lead with public health policies that will promote early identification and therefore reduce the spread of the disease. The CDC is working with China and other countries on methods to control the outbreak.

It’s important to know that Americans are at far greater risk from the flu, with over 16,000 deaths reported in the U.S. this flu season, according to CDC estimates. Unfortunately most of these deaths have occurred in individuals under the age of 25.

What can you do?

  • Get a flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same.
  • The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older (including pregnant women), except those who have a medical contraindication. (A contraindication is a condition that increases the risk for a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine). Individuals should contact their health care provider for more information.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • If you think you have the flu, contact your health care provider. Antiviral medications, given early in the illness, can reduce symptoms and are covered under most pharmacy benefit plans.
  • Urgent care centers can evaluate and treat fevers and coughs in those who are not severely ill and do not have other significant medical illnesses.
  • Telehealth can connect you with a U.S. board-certified doctor in less than 15 minutes to diagnose upper respiratory infection (the No. 1 diagnosis) and the flu. Telehealth is available worldwide with $0 copay.* The doctor can even send your prescription to the nearest pharmacy, if medically necessary.

Where can I find out more?

For more information about Coronavirus, you can visit the following sites:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Massachusetts Department of Health
The Rhode Island Department of Public Health
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

*Telehealth is available to fully insured commercial members upon renewal date and January 1, 2020, for new members. Buy-up options are available for self-insured employers. If you’re not sure whether your plan includes Telehealth, ask your employer.