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COVID-19 is a virus, but has some of the same symptoms as the common cold or the flu. Like other coronaviruses, it is airborne. It spreads when you come in contact with a person who has the virus or touch surfaces the virus has settled on.
Anyone can catch COVID-19, even if you're healthy. It spreads quickly. You are always at risk, and your actions can put others at risk. It's vital that you follow public health guidelines.
Fever, dry cough and shortness of breath are all symptoms of COVID-19. You may also experience other cold and flu-like symptoms. You may feel tired, have an upset stomach or be congested.
If your symptoms are mild, you may get better on your own. In that case, you may not need to be tested, but it’s still important to avoid contact with others until you are well.
Calling your primary care doctor’s office is the first place to start. Your doctor can decide if you should be tested, order the test, and work with local health departments to find a testing location. You can also test yourself using an at-home test kit. The CDC offers 4 at-home test kits. Don't wait until you are sick — you can order them now on their COVID-19 website.
COVID-19 vaccines are now available for everyone 5 years and older. The CDC offers detailed information about the vaccines. Talk with your doctor to see if the vaccines are right for you.
Avoid contact with anyone who has the virus and things they’ve touched. Since people are contagious before they have symptoms, it’s hard to know if you are around someone who has the virus.
You should also:
Read these tips on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses.
If you have symptoms, you can care for yourself by resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter cold and flu medicine. If your symptoms grow worse, talk to a health professional. Start by calling your doctor’s office or urgent care center.
If your health plan has a virtual visit benefit, you can be seen by a doctor by phone, online or by video without leaving home. The doctor can write a prescription if needed and decide if you should go to a hospital.
If you are having trouble breathing or have bluish face or lips, get help right away by calling 911 or going to the nearest hospital ER.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more tips.
Like any other illness you might have, having health coverage means you can get the care you need. You may not be charged a copay or coinsurance to get tested, depending on your plan.
To check your benefits, log into your account at bcbsil.com/member or using the BCBSIL app on your smart phone.
Originally published 3/23/2020; Revised 2022, 2023
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