Posted by Allison Grant, April 07, 2020 (last updated on April 07, 2020)
Millions of responsible citizens around the country (and the world) are hunkering down at home to do their part to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Schools have shut down, workplaces have implemented work from home policies, and everyone has reluctantly–but dutifully–canceled their plans for the foreseeable future.
By now, it’s safe to say everyone knows the best COVID-19 prevention tips by heart (if you don’t: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website). The next step is creating routines and adapting to a new normal. While now is not the time to be going out for anything non-essential, it’s important to make sure you’re staying healthy.
Routine, preventative healthcare is one of the best ways to ensure your wellness, in both the short- and long-term. But when leaving the house is one of the riskiest things you can do for your own health and the health of those around you, should you cancel your routine yet necessary healthcare appointments?
With nearly all healthcare providers in the country being deployed to conquer the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic, routine healthcare may feel like the last priority. Rest assured, your health is essential, and you absolutely should seek the care you need, when you need it. That said, there are some ways to mitigate your risk of transmitting (or catching) the virus, while also receiving the medical attention you need.
Read on to learn what to do if you need non-coronavirus related healthcare during this pandemic.
Call 911 or go to the ER for true emergencies
First and foremost, if you’re facing a life-threatening condition, you should still call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. An emergency is an emergency, and you shouldn’t hesitate to seek life- or limb-saving care for yourself or your children, even during a pandemic. Before you leave the house (if there’s time), try to find a cloth face covering for you and anyone who’s going to the hospital with you. Around 25% of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms, so the CDC has updated its guidelines about wearing face masks to help decrease the spread of the virus. Everyone that goes out in public, especially to high-traffic areas like hospitals–or, in non-emergency situations, grocery stores and pharmacies–should now wear cloth face coverings.
Pro tip: You can sew a face mask at home from common household materials with this step-by-step guide.
Explore telemedicine options
Right now, many routine medical visits are being postponed so that more doctors are available to care for coronavirus patients. However, you still have options when it comes to getting care. Cue telemedicine, aka virtual doctor’s visits done via video call. Telemedicine allows doctors and patients to practice safe, responsible social distancing and avoid transmission from people who aren’t showing symptoms.
(Not sure whether you need telemedicine or in-person urgent care? We have a guide for that.)
What routine healthcare can you get from a telemedicine visit?
If you’re hesitant to keep your routine appointments because of the risk of going out and spreading (or catching) the infection, you can call your doctor and ask if they have a telemedicine option. During a virtual visit, your doctor can monitor symptoms of any chronic health issues you may have, just like they would in person. They can also address any new wellness questions you’ve been meaning to ask, like questions about your weight, diet, or exercise habits. If you have questions about how telemedicine works, or what kinds of routine care you can get via telemedicine, check out our complete telemedicine guide.
Pro tip: Most of the routine doctors’ visits that you should have in your 30s can be seen using telemedicine.
Who can use telemedicine?
If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer with internet and a webcam, you can probably use telemedicine for your routine doctors’ appointments. If you have an elective procedure coming up, like a colonoscopy or a dental exam that can’t be done via telemedicine, your doctor will probably recommend postponing it.
Will my insurance cover my telemedicine appointment?
It depends on your specific plan. Right now, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, many insurance companies are waiving fees for telemedicine appointments to encourage you to choose virtual visits over in-person care. If you’re not sure how to figure out if your insurance company is one of them–or if your insurance covers telemedicine in the first place–you can download the Solv app, snap a photo of your insurance card, and see an outline of your specific coverages.
Caring for your health at home
Telemedicine visits are just one way you can care for your family’s well-being while you’re at home during the coronavirus. Routine healthcare is essential, but so are healthy routines. Planning your family meals ahead of time can help you emphasize whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, instead of turning to frozen dinners for a last-minute sodium-packed solution. The American Society for Nutrition recommends stocking up on healthy foods that stay good for over a week, like:
- Bread and grains (corn tortillas, whole-grain English muffins, oatmeal, pasta, rice)
- Sturdy fruits and vegetables (such as apples, citrus, celery, broccoli, carrots)
- Eggs, milk, and cheese
- Beans, nuts, and seeds
- Chicken and seafood (frozen or canned)
- Frozen beef
When you eat right, you’ll have more energy for your next healthy habit–exercise. Adults should get at least two and a half hours of heart-pumping exercise a week, according to the American Heart Association. Children ages 3 to 5 should have plenty of chances to be physically active throughout the day, and children ages 6 to 17 should get at least an hour of exercise every day.
Lastly, establishing a healthy sleep schedule is crucial. When you’re stressed, it’s harder than ever to get a good night’s sleep, but that’s when you need it the most. Your body does some of its most important work when you’re asleep, like tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis. You also need sleep to recover from everyday wear and tear, like that muscle you pulled this afternoon during your stint as a makeshift jungle gym.
Is getting a coronavirus test considered routine care?
Getting a coronavirus test is not considered routine care. Not everyone needs to be, or even can be, tested for COVID-19. According to the CDC, it’s up to your state and local healthcare officials, as well as individual healthcare professionals, to decide who should get tested and who shouldn’t. If you think you may be sick with the coronavirus, you should follow the CDC’s guidelines for evaluating whether you should get tested.
What if I don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19?
If you’re not displaying the common symptoms of COVID-19, you may be tempted to head out into the world to seek the healthcare you need. However, a New England Journal of Medicine study found that people who aren’t showing symptoms have just as high of a high potential for transmitting the virus as someone with typical COVID-19 symptoms, hence the updated face-covering guidelines from the CDC that we talked about earlier. As social distancing recommendations are extended, telemedicine continues to be the preferred method of consultation, for both doctors and patients.
Switching from in-person care to telemedicine may seem like a big change (until after your first virtual visit, when you start to wonder why in the world you’ve never done this before), but Solv makes the transition as easy as possible. Book a telemedicine appointment by downloading the Solv app today.