Getting COVID-19 care

Table of contents

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 (CDC) 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

*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.

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

Per CDC guidelines, you do not need to quarantine if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 if:

  • You are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines, and
  • You do not have symptoms.

If you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, stay home and quarantine for at least five full days. Wear a well-fitting mask if you must be in close contact with others in your home. The CDC defines close contact as being within six feet for 15 minutes or longer. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should monitor their health after exposure. Contact your doctor if any symptoms start.

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.


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
Teladoc 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.


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

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 the 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 at least five full days after you test positive for COVID-19. 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 can still pass COVID-19 to others. If you test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, isolate for five days followed by five days of wearing a well-fitting mask.

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

Keep track of the person’s symptoms. Contact your doctor if symptoms get worse. Call 911 if the person experiences any emergency warning signs for COVID-19.

If someone in your home is sick, that person should self-isolate. This includes 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 feet 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.

Keep an eye on 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 during the Public Health Emergency.

Medication and treatment options

The role of therapeutics in COVID-19 response has changed. This is due to the availability of highly effective oral therapeutics and simplified access to treatment as soon as someone tests positive for COVID-19.

The products currently authorized for treating mild-to-moderately ill COVID-19 patients include:

Nirmatrelvir with
Ritonavi (Paxlovid)
Adults; children ages 12 years and older Taken at home by mouth (orally)
Remdesivir (Veklury)
Adults and children Intravenous (IV) infusions at a healthcare facility for 3 consecutive days
Bebtelovimab Monoclonal
Adults; children ages 12 years and older Single IV injection
Molnupiravir (Lagevrio)
Adults Taken at home by mouth (orally)
Evusheld Immunocompromised individuals; taken before getting sick or exposed Injection

Learn more about the therapeutic options available.


How to get treatment for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick, there are treatments available that can reduce your chances of hospitalization and death. Please note that treatment must be given within five to seven days of symptoms to be effective. If you test positive for COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider.

If you cannot quickly access therapeutics through your usual healthcare provider, you can look for Test to Treat facilities using the HHS Test to Treat locator or California’s My Turn website. A federally-supported Test to Treat facility is a location where you are able to get tested, receive a prescription for oral antivirals, and, when appropriate as determined by a healthcare provider, have a prescription filled. This is all done at one location.

For more information on the Test to Treat initiative, visit

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 guidance. The CDC says people can mostly be around others after:

  • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or five days have passed since the first positive test and the person is asymptomatic and wears a well-fitting mask for the remaining five days;
  • 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).

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

It’s important to take care of your mental health during this Public Health Emergency. All of our plans offer different care options. Learn more about them on our resuming regular care page.

More questions?

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

COVID-19 testing

Find out which COVID-19 tests are available to members and where to get tested.

Flu vs. COVID-19: what you should know

Learn how flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar and what you need to know to protect yourself.

Blue Shield coverage for COVID-19 testing

Find out when Blue Shield covers COVID-19 tests and whether or not you'll have a copay.

Resuming regular care

Find out how to safely resume medical, dental, and vision visits.


Last update: 8/16/2022

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