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What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is the newest virus in a family of “coronaviruses” where are known for causing respiratory infection. This strain is the newest type of coronavirus with the ability to infect people. Historically, most of these viruses only infect animals like cows, camels, and bats. As far as scientists know, COVID-19 is the seventh type of coronavirus that has evolved to infect humans. Two others are severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and xMiddle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV).
When the new coronavirus first started infecting people, researchers temporarily named it 2019-nCoV, which stands for “2019 novel coronavirus.” To avoid unofficial names that could be stigmatizing or inaccurate, the WHO announced on February 2, 2020, that the virus would now be called COVID-19, which stands for “Coronavirus Disease 19.”
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms of coronavirus can show up anywhere between 2 and 14 days after exposure. According to the CDC , coronavirus symptoms include: fever, cough, shortness of breath.
More severe cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been linked to pneumonia, breathing difficulties, kidney failure, or even death. On the other hand, some people that are infected may not experience any symptoms at all. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (like heart disease or diabetes) may have a higher risk of developing severe complications from coronavirus (COVID-19).
How can I protect myself from getting coronavirus?
There are several small but very important steps you can take to minimize your chances of contracting coronavirus.
Wash your hands: You can never wash your hands enough. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Stock up on disinfectant: Bacteria can be tricky and can survive on surfaces for quite some time. Make sure you're eliminating any lingering virus by wiping down and spraying any surfaces regularly, especially frequently-touched objects, such as your cell phone and computer keyboard.
Avoid touching your face: Your eyes, nose and mouth are the easiest way for bacteria to get into your system. Keep your hands by your side to avoid accidentally ingesting any harmful bacteria.
Keep your distance: Keep at least three six between you and anyone who might be coughing or sneezing. This can help prevent any bacteria from making its way over to you.
What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?
If you believe you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) you want to make sure you stay at home and isolate yourself from others except in the instance that you need to seek medical care.
If you decide you need to see a doctor make sure to call ahead of your visit and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This precaution can help the office protect themselves and other patients from potential transmission. Another alternative to in-person care that allows you to practice social distancing is to have a virtual visit with your provider. While providers can’t test you for coronavirus virtually they can evaluate whether or not you need to be tested and then direct you to the appropriate next steps based on their evaluation while minimizing transmission of coronavirus.
Where and how can I get evaluated for coronavirus testing?
Availability of tests for coronavirus can vary on a state by state basis. To learn how your state department of public health is responding to coronavirus (COVID-19), please refer to your local or state health department website for more details on testing in your area.
Currently testing for coronavirus is available by prescription only, so when in doubt call your doctor or schedule a virtual visit to speak with a provider and determine if you need to be evaluated for coronavirus.
What should I do if I test positive for coronavirus?
If you have tested positive for coronavirus it’s important to stay at home with the exception of seeking any needed medical care and isolating yourself from others while at home. This means minimizing any contact between you and others in your home–including pets. Ideally you are able to isolate yourself in a room and avoid any shared spaces, but if this is not possible then it’s important to routinely disinfectant any shared surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables per the CDC’s guidelines, will best position you to reduce any transmission. And of course, washing your hands frequently is the gold standard when trying to prevent infecting those around you.
Can I get evaluated for coronavirus testing at urgent care?
Testing availability at urgent care clinics is currently limited but many urgent cares are planning to increase their testing over the coming weeks and months. If you are considering going to urgent care and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19, please call ahead of your visit or schedule a virtual visit and been seen from the safety of your own home.
Are there any alternatives to in-person care?
If you’re concerned about going in-person to see your provider due to possible transmission risks, the CDC has made recommendations for providers to consider telemedicine options as one potential alternative to in-person visits.
Unfortunately the test for coronavirus (COVID-19) cannot be administered virtually since it does typically involve a swab or blood sample. However, telemedicine can be a great first step if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) as it enables you to be evaluated by a provider while also helping to lower your risk of transmission to others.
Is there a cure or vaccine for coronavirus?
As of right now, there is no specific medicine or vaccine for the virus. Until a treatment passes clinical trials, support for people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will focus on managing their symptoms.
In the meantime, researchers are working on developing a vaccine. There are at least 30 companies and academic institutions are trying to develop a vaccine. On March 3, Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases commented in Washington, DC that, “It will take at least a year and a half to have a vaccine we can use.” It may not be ready for another 18 months, but the Director-General of the WHO is confident that they have the tools to contain the virus in the meantime. On March 16, 2020 the first clinical trial in the US for a vaccine began with 45 healthy adults volunteering to be inoculated.
How much does coronavirus testing cost?
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed a Coronavirus Relief Package into legislation that makes testing for coronavirus free for all Americans.
Will my insurance cover coronavirus treatment?
While the Coronavirus Relief Package passed on March 18, 2020 has waived the cost of testing for coronavirus, this does not cover the cost of associated treatment for individuals who test positive for coronavirus. Your health insurance should cover all related medical expenses like they would if you had the flu. However, every insurance policy is different, and some may not cover treatments or illnesses that happen outside of the U.S.
America’s Health Insurance Plans has outlined how various health insurance providers across the US are working to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by lowering the barriers to access testing from everything to waiving copays for diagnostic testing to completely covering any out of pocket costs for coronavirus testing. To view what your specific health insurance provider is doing check out the full list here.
What is social distancing?
Keeping your (literal) distance from others in your community is one of the most effective ways to reduce overall transmission of coronavirus across the population. Whether that be the person next to you at the gym, your co-worker or even the person you walked past on the sidewalk en route to the grocery, maintaining a separation of at least six feet from anyone around you is your first step in preventing further transmission.
When do I need to practice isolation?
Isolation happens when an individual receives a positive diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19). This could mean isolation at home or in the hospital depending on the severity of the case. In cases of isolation, any individuals interacting with the patient will also need to take additional precautions to avoid contracting coronavirus.
If I feel healthy do I still need to practice social distancing?
Social distancing is the best tool at our disposal to protect the broader public health. While your individual risk might be low, it’s important to think about how those small actions of social distancing can benefit the population. For example, 80% of the people who contract coronavirus have mild symptoms, however if one of those individuals passes it on to a more at-risk individual it has the potential to lead to a much worse infection. And that one infection can lead to a trickle down effect–if some of those infected individuals end up in the hospital it means it’s harder for other sick populations (newborns, cancer patients, etc.) to get adequate care.
Moral of the story–practicing social distancing is for the greater good, even if it doesn't impact you directly.
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Urgent Care Guide
In a recent survey conducted with the Urgent Care Association, Solv found that patients were waiting an average of 24 days for appointments with their primary care provider. In a world of instant gratification, consumers demand more. They demand now. If you want to watch a movie, you download it in minutes or stream it instantly. If you need groceries, you can pick up your phone and have them delivered to you within the hour. If you need restaurant reservations, you find one with availability, book online, walk in minutes later and sit right down. Healthcare shouldn’t be any different.
That’s why urgent care has been growing at a faster pace than any other healthcare service in the United States. And it is why healthcare consumers search for “urgent care” more than 5x more than “primary care” or “family doctor,” combined. These consumers are highly actionable, searching with high intent terms like “urgent care near me.” They want same day access to quality healthcare providers when they are sick or injured - after hours, one weekends and on holidays - without the cost and inconvenience of the emergency room.
Urgent care centers typically treat minor illnesses like the flu, sinus infections and strep throat, as well as injuries like bone fractures and sprains, cuts, scrapes and burns, making these clinics ideal for diagnosing and treating non-emergent healthcare needs. And at a growing rate urgent care clinics are offering preventative care services including annual physicals and well visits, flu shots and other immunizations and vaccines, taking on the role of primary care provider for the tens of millions of consumers that don’t have one.
For kids there are special pediatric urgent care centers, usually open after hours for patients between the ages of 1 and 18.
Services & Pricing
Urgent care centers, which are part of the walk-in clinic healthcare category, are a convenient resource for consumers needing treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Services that you would normally receive at your primary care office are usually available at an urgent care including annual and school physicals, flu shots and immunizations, treatment for illnesses including colds, flu stomach pains, sinus and ear infections and more. You can also be seen for injuries such as burns, bites, sprains and breaks - things that you might first thing to go to the emergency room vs urgent care, but you’ll have a shorter wait and smaller bill at the urgent care. As for cost, without insurance, you should expect between $100-140 for your visit, plus the cost of any labs, tests or images. With insurance, urgent care will be similar to seeing a specialist with applicable co-pay.
Insurance & Payments
Nearly all urgent care centers take commercial insurance and many (if not most) will take medicare. As such if you have insurance coverage, you can expect the financial experience to be similar to visiting a specialist where you have a co-pay, usually $35-50, due at the time of the visit. Any additional lab work, x-rays or other tests performed will be billed against your insurance first and any supplemental balance due will be invoiced to you after the fact. Without insurance, you’ll pay a visit fee between $100-140 at the time of your visit. This is typically 25-50% more than your primary care provider, but usually the convenience is well worth the additional cost. If you are interested in a telehealth or video visit, your cost could be as much as 50% less than an urgent care, you could be diagnosed and prescribed medication and you’ll never have to leave your home.
Hours & Wait Times
Every urgent care center - even those part of the same group or brand - may have different hours. While they are meant to be conveniently accessible during times when your primary care provider is not, that’s subjective and highly variable. A traditional formula, however, is that an urgent care is open 6 to 7 days a week usually between the hours of 8 am to 8 pm. That could shift to nearly any 8-12 hour period between 7 am and 10 pm. You’ll even find some clinics open 24 hours a day, similar to an emergency room. As for wait time, most patients report waiting between 15-45 minutes on average, but that can certainly vary, as well. It’s usually best to find an urgent care near you to either confirm the hours online, or call the clinic directly to verify. Or, you can book a same day doctor appointment online with Solv.