Coronavirus Update Center

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update Center

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

COVID-19 Delta Variant

According to the CDC, the current Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is more contagious and spreads faster compared to other variants. Some data suggests the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people. In two different studies from Canada and Scotland, patients infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with Alpha or the original virus strains.

Although breakthrough infections happen much less often than infections in unvaccinated people, individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others. The CDC is continuing to assess data on whether fully vaccinated people with asymptomatic breakthrough infections can transmit. However, the greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract, and therefore transmit the virus.

Vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of contracting the virus that cause COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant.

COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy

CDC guidance indicates that COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. Data suggests that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

According to the CDC, pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic!

An effective COVID-19 vaccine will help protect people who come in contact with the virus from becoming sick and hopefully help bring an end to the pandemic.

But some are concerned about the safety of the vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), safety has always been a top priority when developing and authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Some key areas of safety include:

  • Careful Testing. All vaccines go through clinical trials to test for safety and effectiveness. For the COVID-19 vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set up rigorous safety standards for vaccine developers to meet.
  • Clinical Trials. None of the vaccine clinical trials reported any serious safety concerns. Trials for the COVID-19 vaccine have had fully independent safety monitoring boards, and safety data are continuously reviewed by the FDA and expert panels.
  • Continuous Monitoring. Once a vaccine is authorized for use, monitoring by the FDA and the CDC continues, with systems in place to track problems or side effects that were not detected during the clinical trials.
  • Allergy Concerns. The CDC indicated people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can have the COVID-19 vaccine. Those with a history of severe allergic reactions to injectables or other vaccines should discuss the vaccine with their doctor, who can then evaluate the individual and assess their risk.

Even though a safe COVID-19 vaccine is available, following CDC guidelines is important. Recent CDC recommendations state that fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask indoors in public if in an area of substantial or high transmission. Wearing a mask is most important if individuals have a weakened immune system or, if because of their age or an underlying medical condition, are at an increased risk for severe disease. In addition, fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.

If an individual has not been vaccinated, they should continue to follow current preventive measures including wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, and washing hands frequently.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and its availability in your area, contact your physician’s office or local pharmacy. Additional COVID-19 topics and how the pandemic could affect you and your family can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19.

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Testing Information

If you believe you need to be tested for COVID-19, click on the link below to access testing information at health department links in all 50 states, 8 US territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.

 

Member Resources

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Important Resources When Dealing with a Crisis

You and your families are our top priority.  New Directions' emotional support line is available 24/7 to assist you during this time of stress and uncertainty. Call 833-848-1764 to speak to a licensed therapist.

Looking for additional important resources and helpful information? Click on link below to access tips for coping with the COVID-19 outbreak and more.

COVID-19 Scams To Be Aware Of

Unfortunately, there have been many reports of fraudulent acts related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. We want to help you stay safe and aware by informing you of some of the scams you need to be on the lookout for:

  • Door-to-door solicitation for COVID-19 testing and prescribing
  • Phone calls asking for your Blue Cross contract information for free testing and/or services
  • Outreach from healthcare workers offering to send you an at-home test kit
  • False advertisements for vaccinations or medications to treat COVID-19
  • Unexplained or unauthorized lab tests or prescriptions appearing on your Claims statement (Explanation of Benefits/EOB)
  • Advertisements offering health products that are unsuccessful against treating COVID-19 (i.e. herbal teas, supplements, oils or ointments)
  • Fraudulent emails referencing “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19,” which contain malicious software that can damage your device

Telehealth Updates

Blue Cross has made telehealth services related to COVID-19 available to members. Telehealth services can serve as an initial screening for members who need to be tested for COVID-19.

Check with your in-network provider to see if they offer telehealth services.

 

Tips and Advice

Tips to avoid getting COVID-19
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your hands
  • Stay home if sick, and stay home for at least 24 hours after the last signs of fever

 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Stay home and away from others in your household
  • Call before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a face mask whenever possible
  • Clean surfaces that are touched often as much as possible. Examples include counter tops, doorknobs, telephones, toys, bathroom fixtures and keyboards
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw tissues away in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands afterwards
  • Clean your hands often  
  • Monitor your symptoms
COVID-19 Trusted Resources

The best resources for all COVID-19 information: 

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the official name for the illness caused by the newly identified coronavirus. Since the outbreak began late last year, infections have been reported in numerous international locations, including within the United States.

On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” On January 31st, the U.S. Health and Human Services office declared a public health emergency to aid the U.S. healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are not new, and are very common in many species of animals, including camels, cattle and bats. Occasionally coronaviruses can infect people and then spread person-to-person, as was the case with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and now with COVID-19. Coronaviruses infect the respiratory tract and are associated with the common cold and pneumonia.

How is it spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

It may be possible that a person can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people practice frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

Some people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 experience very mild symptoms while others have experienced severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and have included:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

 

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Yes. Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines available:

  • The Pfizer COVID-19 two-dose vaccine for use in individuals ages 12 and older
  • The Moderna COVID-19 two-dose vaccine for use in individuals ages 18 and older
  • The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies COVID-19 single-dose vaccine for use in individuals ages 18 and older
How can people avoid catching COVID-19?

The CDC recommends the following best practices to avoid becoming sick with a respiratory illness:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then discard the tissue
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
What should I do if I traveled near an outbreak or have been in contact with someone has tested positive for COVID-19?

People who have recently traveled to any area where there is an outbreak, or had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and develop symptoms, should contact their healthcare provider and make them aware of their symptoms and exposure. Their healthcare provider will advise them of the appropriate next steps.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19?

To access the most current official information on the COVID-19 virus, please visit the COVID-19 pages on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

 

Claims and Benefits

What services are covered at 100% related to COVID-19?

As a result of the Families First Act, as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, both in-network and out-of-network diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and the related in-person or telehealth visit, emergency room visit, or urgent care visit are covered at 100%. Members are not required to pay for these services.

Will more than one medically necessary diagnostic test for COVID-19 be covered?

Yes. If medically necessary, multiple diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will be covered.

Are at home testing kits for COVID-19 covered?

Yes. As required by the Families First Act/CARES Act, COVID-19 at-home tests must be covered at 100% with no member cost sharing if that test has been approved by the FDA, received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or whose manufacturer has the intent to apply for an EUA, AND if the purpose of the test is for diagnosis and/or treatment of COVID-19 and NOT for surveillance purposes (such as testing required by an employer, institution or school).

How will HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) be affected by COVID-19?

Based on recent IRS guidelines, expenses related to testing and treatment, including related office visits, for COVID-19 can process pre-deductible under an HSA-qualified HDHP.

News and Updates


A Message About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread, many are concerned about the possible impact to themselves and their families. We are closely monitoring the situation and have prepared contingency plans to ensure business operations continue to run smoothly in the event of a widespread outbreak.

To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, we encourage you to follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your hands.
  • Stay home if sick, and stay home for at least 24 hours after the last signs of fever.

To keep current on the latest COVID-19 developments, please visit the CDC’s website.