At Connie Health, we’re committed to providing you with helpful information and resources about coronavirus to keep you informed and protected during these uncertain times. Below outlines resources about COVID-19 for older adults, Medicare coverage, and Maricopa County resources.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is a respiratory disease that originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, including the common flu and other respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 is the newly identified coronavirus that is an infectious disease that attacks the respiratory system.
COVID-19 has spread to all 50 states within the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been over 14M confirmed cases and approximately 280,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of November 2020.
COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The coronavirus can also be spread through airborne transmission or surface transmission through frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs or elevator buttons.
Most people infected with COVID-19 will likely experience mild to moderate symptoms and do not require medical treatment. Older adults or elderly individuals who have chronic illnesses or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk for more severe respiratory symptoms and life-threatening illnesses.
What Older Adults Need to Know
Staying healthy as an older adult during the coronavirus pandemic includes adherence to public health guidelines as well as general well-being practices. Since COVID-19 spreads from person to person, social distancing is the primary recommended method for staying healthy.
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Social distancing refers to the physical space between yourself and another person, specifically other individuals outside of your home. Keeping space between you and others is one of the best ways to avoid being exposed to coronavirus and slowing its spread locally and across the country.
General guidelines for social or physical distancing include:
- Staying at least 6 feet away from other people
- No group gatherings
- Staying away from crowded places and avoiding mass gatherings
Social isolation is a concern for many older adults and individuals throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It’s important to stay in contact with your loved ones and community, including friends, family, and other support systems.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also recommended, including regular exercise and managing stress. Taking frequent walks outside or meditation are common activities to boost morale and maintain general well-being.
Here are other recommended methods to protect yourself against coronavirus:
- Wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds)
- Use a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) if you are not able to wash your hands
- Avoid touching your face (including your eyes, nose, and mouth) with unwashed hands
What are COVID-19 Symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms include a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Most symptoms generally appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Here are common symptoms to be aware of when assessing whether or not you have coronavirus.
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
At least two of the following symptoms
- Fever, chills or muscle pains
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
Higher-risk individuals include those over the age of 65 or persons with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes.
Get medical attention immediately if you experience any of the emergency signs for COVID-19 such as:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Bluish lips or face
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency and let them know you think you might have or have been exposed to COVID-19.
Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and medical professionals are working on creating an antibody test to identify if individuals are immune from coronavirus.
Medicare Coverage and COVID-19
If you’re over the age of 65 and have Medicare, you likely want to know what’s covered when it comes to COVID-19. Medicare has expanded its coverage related to coronavirus healthcare and telehealth visits.
Here’s what Medicare covers related to coronavirus and public health guidelines:
- COVID-19 testing
- Hospitalizations due to COVID-19
- Telehealth and related services
- Mail-order pharmacy and prescriptions
Medicare covers all COVID-19 testing without any out-of-pocket costs for patients. Any medically necessary hospitalization due to COVID-19 is also covered by Medicare. Medicare will also cover antibody tests once approved by the FDA.
In response to the public health emergency right now, Medicare is covering telehealth visits with medical providers. Telehealth visits are a safe way to see a medical provider, doctor, and counselor via your smartphone, computer, or electronic device without leaving your home.
Mail-order pharmacies and prescriptions are a convenient way to fill or refill prescriptions without having to go to the pharmacy. Based on prescription drug coverage with your Medicare plan, you can have your prescriptions delivered to your home.
For more information on coverage for your specific Medicare plan, please call one of our licensed Medicare advisors at (623) 223-8884 today.
Coronavirus Resources in Maricopa County
While the rate of infection and hospitalizations has started to level off in Maricopa County, the coronavirus still remains a concern, especially for older adults. According to Maricopa.gov, people aged 65 years or older or those who have a chronic health condition represent approximately 72% of all hospitalizations for COVID-19.
It’s important to stay up-to-date with state and local laws on social distancing and business regulations. Visit Maricopa.gov for real-time updates on coronavirus statistics, county regulations, and public health updates.
COVID-19 Testing in Phoenix, AZ
If you think you or a loved one have COVID-19, there are many clinics and hospitals that provide testing in and around Phoenix, Arizona. It’s important to call the healthcare clinic ahead of time to notify them that you are symptomatic and get instructions for your arrival. While some clinics require appointments for coronavirus testing, many do not.
If you are urgently sick or having trouble breathing, call emergency services at 911 immediately or go to your local hospital emergency room.
NextCare Urgent Care has curbside testing available at their urgent care clinics around Arizona. Banner Health has five locations throughout Arizona for COVID-19 testing, which requires an appointment in advance.
Here are a few locations that are testing for COVID-19 around Phoenix:
- NextCare Urgent Care located at 18589 N 59th Ave #101, Glendale, AZ 85308
- NextCare Urgent Care located at 20950 N Tatum Blvd #190, Phoenix, AZ 85050
- Banner Boswell Medical Center located at 10401 W Thunderbird Blvd, Sun City, AZ 85351
- Banner Gateway Medical Center located at 1900 N Higley Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234
If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and do not have life-threatening conditions, call your primary care doctor for more information.
COVID-19 Resources for Older Adults
In order to stay up-to-date and informed about coronavirus, here are a few external resources recommended for older adults and Maricopa County:
- Center for Disease Control
- Association of American Retired Persons (AARP)
- Banner Health
- Arizona Department of Health Services
- Maricopa County
- Medicare (Official U.S. Government Site)
If you have any additional questions regarding COVID-19 and your Medicare coverage, please don’t hesitate to call us at (623) 223-8884. Our licensed Medicare advisors are available and here to help at no cost to you.