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The news circulating around the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and create fear for employers and their employees. Although much is still unknown about this novel virus, there are positive advancements being made daily, even hourly, that can provide hope and stability.
Here are four points, from the clinical perspective of Apex Director of Population Health and Analytics Sarah Michaels, RN, that illustrate positivity and progress:
- Free telehealth. Many healthcare providers and insurance carriers are offering free telemedicine services to help keep people at home, limit exposure in healthcare facilities and eliminate hospital bills for individuals. For instance, IU Health is offering a free virtual clinic for COVID-19 screenings, where individuals are screened by physicians, registered nurses and advanced practice providers to possibly eliminate the need to go to the hospital or emergency room. The team will then recommend and facilitate appropriate pathways for care and communicate with local hospitals as appropriate. Check with your medical carrier or employer on coverage for and access to telehealth resources.
- Most cases are not severe. Yes, the numbers of those being diagnosed continue to climb. Yet 75% to 80% of individuals showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 fall into the mild (nonsevere) category according to studies published by WHO and CDC. This means the majority of individuals should be able recover and treating the symptoms with over-the-counter medicines should suffice. Age and presence of complicating illnesses are more common among “severe” patients, the studies concluded. (Click here for a resource that compares symptoms of a cold, flu and the coronavirus.)
- Potential vaccine. Although no vaccine has been created yet, there are several institutions developing and testing vaccines at this moment. Research has shown that this virus does not mutate anywhere near as quickly as the flu according to scientists who are closely studying the novel pathogen’s genetic code. Once a vaccine is created and it’s proven effective, it should offer long-lasting protection.
- Increasing knowledge. Healthcare workers are discovering new information about this virus every day. The way it spreads, who is most at risk and how it affects our bodies are all aspects of this virus that healthcare workers are learning about daily.
And more good news – the CARES Act provides for telehealth and other remote care services being covered pre-deductible without violating federal rules for HDHPs paired with an HSA. The bill also supports the use of HSAs and FSAs for coverage of non-prescribed over the counter treatment of symptoms; this would include acetaminophen and thermometers. Get clarification from your employer or plan administrator.
These advancements don’t change the severity of this outbreak – or preclude the need to practice social distancing and cleanliness – but should provide some peace of mind during this time of uncertainty. With so much information readily available, it’s easy to get lost reading article after article about this virus. Sticking to the facts and advice from medical professionals will be the best way to curb feelings of stress and fear as we work together through this crisis.
For more information, view the webinar, “Coronavirus: A Nurse’s Perspective” with Sarah Michaels, RN.