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Answers to your most frequently asked questions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The CDC is your best resource for COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation continues to quickly evolve. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest information on COVID-19.

To help take care of yourself and your loved ones, below are answers to common questions about COVID-19.

If you are feeling worried or stressed about COVID-19, we’re here to help. Call the Optum Emotional Support Help Line toll-free at 1-866-342-6892. Mental health professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  


Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in both people and animals. The 2003 SARS outbreak, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a well-known coronavirus. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new coronavirus outbreak, called COVID-19, which was first detected in China. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC.

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

It is important to know that anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. For more information on symptoms for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Symptoms of Coronavirus page.

If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, stay away from others.

If you begin to experience symptoms, call your primary care provider (or local public health agency) right away to ask for guidance prior to making an in-person visit. This will help limit exposure to the general public. For more information on what to do if you think you are sick with COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s What to Do If You Are Sick page.

If your primary care provider or health care professional determines you should be tested for COVID-19 and orders the test, the most common place for collection of the specimen is a health care provider’s office or clinic. There are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: diagnostic testing and antibody testing.

  • A diagnostic test determines if you are currently infected with COVID-19.
  • An antibody test detects antibodies in the blood, which may indicate a past COVID-19 infection. 

For more information on getting tested for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Testing for COVID-19 page.

Diagnostic testing determines if you are currently infected with COVID-19. It does not indicate if you previously had COVID-19.

Antibody testing detects antibodies in the blood, which may indicate a past COVID-19 infection. Per CDC guidelines, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection. Antibodies can take about two weeks to develop. Importantly, the presence of antibodies does not signal immunity. It is not currently known what level of antibodies, if at all, provides immunity to COVID-19 and how long the antibodies last. 

Diagnostic testing uses a nasal swab, collected by your physician or yourself. Your physician may also use other methods such as a throat swab. These tests deliver a high accuracy rate if the sample is taken and handled correctly.

Antibody testing requires a blood sample. As new antibody tests continue to become available, it’s important to know that not all versions are FDA-authorized nor are they providing reliable results. COVID-19 testing is rapidly evolving, so please discuss any questions or concerns with your health care provider. 

Many health insurance companies across the country have stated that they will cover the full cost of any testing for COVID-19. However, it is a good idea to check with your specific insurance company to ask about coverage of the test. 

At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you become infected, you will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by following the steps listed on the CDC’s What to Do if You Are Sick page. 

You are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact by putting distance between yourself and other people outside of your home; stay at least six feet from other people. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside of your home. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer.
  • Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms.

For more information on how to protect yourself against COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others page.

This situation is evolving, so please visit the CDC’s Travel page for the latest guidance. In addition, check with your state and local authorities and those of your destination, as many have implemented rules or guidance that may affect your plans.

Yes. Medicare has more information hereIf you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to call your plan and ask how it will handle COVID-19 care.

In most cases there is no need. All major health plans have waived member cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines for all commercial insured, Medicaid and Medicare members. In addition, many self-insured customers are also choosing to implement similar actions.

This means that HSA funds are not required for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the event that a plan is not waiving these costs, individuals will be able to use HSA funds for those costs without jeopardizing the qualified status of their high-deductible health plan.

As part of the COVID-19 readiness response, Optum Bank customers will continue to have full access to their funds, transactions and accounts. As an online bank with no physical branches, Optum Bank supports 24/7 access to accounts at and through the Optum Bank mobile app. There will be no interruption to online banking services, enabling account holders to view their balance and transactions, submit receipts and pay bills or reimburse themselves, or any additional functionality.

Per the CDC’s guidelines, social distancing is the practice of putting physical distance between yourself and other people to help COVID-19 from spreading in the community. It is especially important to practice social distancing to help protect people who are at a higher risk of getting sick. The CDC recommends the following to practice social or physical distancing:

  • Stay at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people.
  • Do not gather in groups.
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering when out in public, especially when it is difficult to maintain social distancing measures. The face covering may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading it to others.

For more information about wearing a cloth face covering, please visits the CDC’s About Cloth Face Coverings page. 

Detailed Video Description Coronavirus 20009


[What are Coronaviruses?]

[Narrator:] Coronaviruses are a family of common viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people.

[Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)]

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are two well-known coronaviruses.

In January of 2020, the World Health Organization announced a new coronavirus, now called COVID-19, which caused an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province.

We’re still learning about how this virus spreads, and rely on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for guidance.

Here’s what we know about COVID-19.

[How does COVID-19 spread?]

Currently, it is thought that it spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person.

It may also spread when an individual touches an infected surface and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes.

[What are COVID-19 Symptoms?]

COVID-19 symptoms may be similar to a respiratory infection.

Primary symptoms may include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.


Some people, the elderly, the young or the immune-compromised, may experience complications including pneumonia, kidney failure and overwhelming infection, known as sepsis.

[How to help protect against COVID-19]

To best protect yourself from this coronavirus:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, including your phone and computer.


Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately.

For updated information, guidance and travel alerts, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

We will continue to actively monitor public health resources to ensure we respond appropriately to the needs of our customers and members.

[Disclaimer: Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). World Health Organization (WHO). ]

Watch the video to learn about COVID-19.

The information and therapeutic approaches in this article are provided for informational and/or educational purposes only. They are not meant to be used in place of professional clinical consultations for individual health needs.

Optum encourages people to stay informed as the situation evolves

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.