Getting COVID-19 care

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 causes very different symptoms in different people. Some people have no symptoms at all. Others experience serious and life-threatening symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms* can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms often develop 2-14 days after exposure. In some cases, it may take longer.

Use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s symptom checker to help you seek the right care.


What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Call 911 if you develop emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. These include:

  • Trouble breathing 
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.

If you have a fever or cough, feel short of breath, or are experiencing other COVID-19 symptoms as listed above, contact your primary doctor.

Your doctor may be able to help you over the phone or computer. You may not need to go into their office.

Your doctor will let you know where to get a COVID-19 test, if needed. Sometimes symptoms are mild and can be treated at home. They will decide the best care option for you.

If you have had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, stay home for 14 days after the last exposure per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This applies even if you don’t have any symptoms.


What do I do if I think I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

If you have had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, stay home for 14 days after the last exposure per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close contact is defined by the CDC as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer.

This applies even if you don’t have any symptoms. Monitor your health. Contact your doctor if new symptoms start.


Who is most at risk from COVID-19?

Those most at-risk for severe illness are:

  • Seniors over 65
  • People with certain medical conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD 
    • Down syndrome
    • Weakened immune system from organ transplant
    • Obesity 
    • Serious heart conditions
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Smoking
    • Type 2 diabetes

If you’re in one of the groups above, please read our chronic and high-risk health guidelines.

According to the CDC, the following groups should also take extra steps to protect themselves from getting sick:

You can learn more about specific risks for these groups at the CDC’s website.


What virtual care options are available?

You or your family may need medical care for things beyond COVID-19. Don’t delay getting the care you need because of the pandemic.

If you think you might have COVID-19, start with your primary doctor. They may have virtual visits available.

Some Blue Shield plans also offer other virtual care options such as:

  • Teladoc
  • NurseHelp 24/7 SM
  • Nurse Advice Line

These services can help you see if your symptoms are COVID-19 or something else. These services will not be able to order a COVID-19 test for you. 

If you think you need a test, please contact your doctor to arrange one. The test will be covered by Blue Shield. Read more information about COVID-19 testing coverage and other FAQs.

Not all plans have access to these services below. Please log in to find out which services you have access to.

Log in to get care


Your primary doctor
Call your doctor first to find out if they have virtual visits available. 
Log in to find a doctor
Varies by plan* Copays are listed on your ID card

Talk to board-certified doctors 24/7 by phone or video. 
(800) 835-2362 [TTY: 711]
Varies by plan* Log in or call Teladoc for details

NurseHelp 24/7SM
or Nurse Advice Line
Get health advice 24/7 from a registered nurse over the phone.

Blue Shield members, call NurseHelp 24/7 at (877) 304-0504.
Blue Shield Promise members, call Nurse Advice Line at (800) 609-4166 [TTY: 711].


* Please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Member Handbook, or plan documents for information about standard out-of-pocket costs for your plan. You can also call customer service number on your ID card. Or you can log in to your online account to see what your plan covers.


What in-person care options are available?

Most medical offices and clinics are open for in-person appointments. Call them before you go in. Staff can give you advice on how to prepare for your visit. They will tell you of any requirements before entering the building. These may include masks or temperature checks.

Blue Shield offers many in-person care options.

Log in to get care


Your primary care doctor
Call your doctor first to discuss the next steps in care.
Log in to find a doctor

Let the doctor come to you. Some plans offer HealTM physician remote screenings for COVID-19 and in home visits for non-COVID-19 care in select cities.
Learn more about Heal*

Urgent care
If you need in-person medical treatment and your doctor isn’t available, go to an urgent care center.
Log in to find an urgent care center

Emergency room (ER)
The ER is for true emergencies. Go to the ER or call 911 if you are experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19 or your doctor tells you to go.
Call 911 or go to the closest ER.

*Not all plans have access to Heal, such as Medi-Cal, Cal MediConnect Blue Shield Medicare HMO plans, or Medicare Supplement plans.

Refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Member Handbook, or plan documents for information about standard out-of-pocket costs for your plan. You can also call customer service number on your ID card. Or log in to your online account to see what benefits your plan covers.


What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

Stay home for 10 days after your positive diagnostic test. Watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If you become ill, speak with your healthcare provider or Teladoc about the next steps for care. In some cases, symptoms are mild and can be treated at home.

Some people have tested positive but show no symptoms. Even without symptoms, you should still wait until 10 days have passed since your positive test to be around others.


What should I do if I get sick or someone in my home has COVID-19?

Monitor the patient’s symptoms. Contact your doctor if symptoms worsen. Call 911 if the patient experiences any emergency warning signs for COVID-19.

If someone in your home is sick, that person should self-isolate. This should include having that person:

  • Stay in a separate room, if possible
  • Use a separate restroom, if available
  • Use separate household items. Never share utensils, cups, dishes, towels, bedding, toothpaste, etc.
  • Wear a mask if they must leave their room
  • Remain at least 6 ft away from other household members as much as possible
  • Cover their coughs and sneezes
  • Wash their hands often

Read more guidelines from the CDC. The CDC also offers tip on how to properly disinfect your home.

Monitor your health, too. Contact your doctor if new symptoms start. Self-quarantine if you are a caregiver or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

What if I need treatment for COVID-19?

There are no prior approvals needed for COVID-19 treatment. Blue Shield and Blue Shield Promise will waive copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for COVID-19 treatments received between March 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021. This applies to the following plan types:

  • Plans purchased through Blue Shield of California directly
  • Plans purchased through Covered California
  • Medicare Advantage plans
  • Medicare Supplement plans
  • Fully-insured employer-sponsored plans
  • Self-insured and flex-funded employer-sponsored plans where the plan sponsor has elected to pay for copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for COVID-19 treatment (These plans are not required to cover these costs)

To find out which plan you have, call the customer service number on your member ID card. 

Medi-Cal and Cal MediConnect members have no out-of-pocket costs for covered treatments.

Check your coverage

Are there medications or vaccines for COVID-19?

There are now several treatments and vaccines available for use. We will cover any new treatment or vaccine that is FDA EUA (Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization) approved.

The best way to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus even if you get vaccinated.

  • Wear a mask
  • Ensure physical distance from others
  • Wash your hands
  • Limit contact with people outside your household

The federal government has authorized the first vaccines for emergency use. However, none of the authorized vaccines will be immediately available to the general public. Because of limited quantities, the government is developing a system to determine who can access the vaccine first. Learn more about the state’s plans for rolling out the vaccine and when you’re eligible. 

Continue to check these vaccine FAQs regularly for updated information.

Remember: It’s also important to protect yourself from the flu. Don’t forget to get your flu shot.


When can I be around others after I’ve recovered from COVID-19?

If you were told to care for yourself at home, follow your doctor’s recommendations. According to the CDC, people generally can be around others after:

  • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
  • COVID-19 symptoms have improved (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)

Read the full CDC guidance. There is separate guidance for people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised patients).


Have you recovered from COVID-19 or tested positive and never had symptoms?

Either way, your blood has antibodies in it. These can help others currently fighting the same infection.

These antibodies are found in your plasma. This is the liquid portion of your blood. The blood plasma can be given to patients who are still in the early stages of a COVID-19 infection.

The hope is that this infusion can help people fight off the virus while their body starts making its own supply of antibodies.

COVID-19 survivors can donate their blood plasma after 14 days of a full recovery. They must meet specific criteria. After three or four months of symptom onset, antibodies begin to disappear. It’s most effective to donate shortly after recovery. Find out if you’re eligible and where you can donate your plasma.


I’m feeling pandemic stress. What are my mental health options?

It’s important to take care of your mental health during the pandemic. All our plans offer different care options. Learn more about your options on our resuming regular care page.


More questions?

Call the customer service number on your member ID card. We’re here to help you.

Last update: 2/26/2021

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Heal is a trademark of Get Heal, Inc.

NurseHelp 24/7 is a service mark of Blue Shield of California.

©2020 Teladoc, Inc. All rights reserved. Teladoc and the Teladoc logo are trademarks of Teladoc Health, Inc. and may not be used without written permission. Teladoc does not replace the primary care physician. Teladoc does not guarantee that a prescription will be written. Teladoc operates subject to state regulation and may not be available in certain states. Teladoc does not prescribe DEA-controlled substances, non-therapeutic drugs, and certain other drugs which may be harmful because of their potential for abuse. Teladoc physicians reserve the right to deny care for potential misuse of services.

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