Testing for COVID-19
On Aug. 4, 2022, the federal government declared a public health emergency in response to the monkeypox, also known as MPX, outbreak. We are monitoring the MPX outbreak closely and are following CDC and local public health guidelines. We are not aware of any cases among our own membership or employee base.
The key to containing the outbreak is to limit the spread – if you think you have symptoms of MPX, please contact your health care provider for advice, testing, and medical care. Until you receive your test result, wash your hands often, isolate yourself from others as much as possible and, if you must be around others, wear a mask.
The viral strain responsible for the current outbreak causes mild symptoms (fever followed by a rash), with few hospitalizations and up until recently no deaths.
We believe the virus is predominantly spread by close contact with skin lesions or contaminated linens but can also spread through droplets when someone infected sneezes or coughs.
For additional information on the current state of the monkeypox outbreak, please see the “Helpful Resources” below.
2022 Monkeypox Outbreak
Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Monkeypox Response
If you have questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus, you’re not alone. We want to make sure our members have the latest updates to stay safe and informed during this time.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, we can help
The most common symptoms of patients with COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, but occasionally symptoms are more severe. There is currently no cure for this virus. If you develop these or any flu-like symptoms, please contact your health care provider or visit your health plan website for information on how you can get care during this time:
You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone that is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, or if you are asked to do so by a health care professional or public health official.
What COVID-19 tests are available to you
There are three categories of COVID-19 tests:
- Antibody or Serology Tests: This is a blood test that can tell if a person has had COVID-19 in the past
- NAAT or PCR Tests: Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs), which include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, collect fluids from the respiratory tract and are considered the best test to diagnose COVID-19, but results can take more than 24 hours
Where you can get tested for COVID-19
- Antigen or Rapid Tests: This diagnostic test uses a swab to collect fluids from the nose or back of the throat and results are available quickly, but it is less sensitive than NAAT
COVID-19 testing is available at:
Free at-home COVID-19 tests
- Health plan clinics
- In-network primary care provider offices and in-network hospitals
- Community health centers
- In-network pharmacies
As of April 4, 2022, Medicare beneficiaries can get up to eight free COVID-19
over-the-counter antigen tests each month from pharmacies at more than a dozen national and regional chain retailers. A partial list of participating pharmacies can be found at https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus
. These tests are paid for by Medicare so make sure you bring your red, white, and blue Medicare card to get your free tests at a pharmacy.
What we know about the COVID-19 vaccine
Tested, safe and effective vaccines are one of the most important tools we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Dec. 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration
(FDA) has authorized the use of three COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna.*
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one shot and is limited to only certain individuals
. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots to get the most protection:
- Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
- Moderna doses should be given 4 weeks (28 days) apart
New data shows that vaccine protection wanes over time and a COVID-19 booster shot is strongly recommended when eligible. Currently, all U.S. individuals age 5 and up are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster
For specific information on what your state and county are doing and who is eligible for vaccination and booster shots, visit the CDC’s Health Department website.
For general information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC website
*Only the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for children aged 6 months-17
How to protect yourself and others
The best way to protect yourself and others during this outbreak is to slow the spread of the virus by getting vaccinated and when eligible, boosted.
Although many states have eased COVID-19 restrictions, the CDC is strongly recommending
that all individuals stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including all primary series doses and boosters for their age group.
Steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19
To find COVID-19 vaccine clinics, pharmacies, and other locations that offer COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, please visit VaccineFinder.org.