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Information for New York

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: March 11, 2020

You’ve probably heard about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and might be concerned. We’re sharing information about how you can protect yourself and the people you care about.

What is COVID-19?
An airway and lung infection, similar to a cold.

What are the symptoms?
Similar to a cold or the flu. Mild to severe fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after being around someone who has COVID-19.

How can I help protect myself?
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Check the CDC website at for up-to-date information. If you are traveling, visit for the CDC’s most current travel guidelines.

Good health habits can also help prevent and fight COVID-19. Here are some tips:

  • Washing your hands is the best way to avoid getting sick:
    • Wash often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If you can’t use soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect items and surfaces you touch often with regular household cleaning spray or a wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and throw away the tissue.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Are older adults, people with disabilities, and people with chronic health conditions at more risk of getting COVID-19?
Older adults, people with disabilities, and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. We will support you and help you get the care you need.

What can I do to protect someone I am caring for?
If you’re caring for someone, be sure visitors take care to avoid causing any extra risk to you or them – keep unscented hand sanitizer by the door, or ask visitors to wash their hands. Wash your hands thoroughly and use unscented hand sanitizer before and after touching or feeding someone, or touching any mobility devices or equipment.

Do I need to wear a facemask?
If you’re sick with COVID-19 or being tested for it, or if you are taking care of someone who has it, you should wear a facemask. Otherwise, you probably don’t need a facemask. Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about wearing a facemask.

If you are getting care in your home, or getting help with meals, bathing, transfers, or other daily living services – you can ask your care provider to wear a mask to help protect you both.

What if I have symptoms? Should I see my doctor?
Call your doctor if you develop a fever, have a cough, or have difficulty breathing. Tell them if you’ve been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19, or if you live in or have been to an area where the virus has spread.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, you may also consider these options if you are concerned about your health:

  • LiveHealth Online is a safe and effective way for you to see a doctor to receive health guidance related to COVID-19 from your home via smart phone, tablet or computer if it has a web cam. LiveHealth Online is offered to you with no copay as a plan benefit.
  • You also can feel free to call the 24/7 NurseLine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the number on the back of your member ID card. This is also at no cost to you.

If I have Medicare and/or Medicaid with Empire, do I have to pay for the COVID-19 test?
Our Medicaid and Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement members do not have to pay anything for the COVID-19 test.

Do I have to get preapproval (prior authorization) for a COVID-19 test?
No, prior authorization is not required for COVID-19 testing.

Are there limits to the care or services I can get during an epidemic?
No. If you have a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement plan, or Medicaid from us, your plan covers sick visits and tests.

I’m worried about running out of my medication. What can I do?
Do you have medicines you take regularly? Instead of refilling once a month, you may be able to get 90-day supplies of these drugs through our home delivery pharmacy, as well as at some drugstores. Markets with RX: Call the Pharmacy Member Services number on your ID card to find out if you can get 90-day supplies.

Your health is important, so you should keep taking your medicines as prescribed and get your refills on time.


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