COVID-19: Telemedicine Screening And Testing Updates

A version of this article was first published on First Stop Health’s Resource Center

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COVID-19 Screening & Testing Updates

Could I have COVID-19? 

You are still relatively unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your risk of being exposed may be higher if you:

  • are in a community where ongoing community spread of COVID-19 has been reported (even in this case, your risk of getting COVID-19 is still considered low);
  • are a healthcare worker caring for patients with COVID-19;
  • have had close contact with people with COVID-19; and/or
  • have traveled to affected international locations where community spread is occurring.

How do First Stop Health online doctors screen patients? 

First Stop Health follows published CDC guidelines. 

If a patient presents to a FSH doctor with fever, cough, and in serious cases shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, the doctor will assess whether or not the patient meets the criteria for a “patient under investigation” PUI.

  • If the patient does NOT meet the criteria, the doctor treats whatever they believe the illness to be. For example, patients with flu-like symptoms typically receive Tamiflu if they contact FSH within 72 hours of the onset of illness. 
  • If a patient DOES meet the criteria
    • Doctor advises to self-quarantine for 14 days
    • Doctors do NOT advise patients to seek in-person care for mild symptoms (this reduces the risk of unnecessary exposure to MORE illness and contains the spread of the germs)
    • If the patient is having difficulty breathing or is in respiratory distress, doctors advise patients to dial 911 and let them know that they may have COVID-19.
    • The First Stop Health team will follow-up with the patient to coordinate communication to public health authorities. 

I think I might have COVID-19. What should I do? 

Experiencing mild symptoms such as cough and/or fever or believe you may have been exposed to the virus? DO NOT GO to the emergency room. Instead, if you suspect you may have COVID-19, you should call your doctor or use telemedicine. 

Experiencing severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing? Call 911 and advise the dispatch of your symptoms. DO NOT CALL emergency rooms prior to going (many are not set up to handle the volume of calls). Remember to use emergency departments for emergencies only. 

What should I do before contacting First Stop Health Online Doctors?  

First Stop Health is experiencing an increase in volume as a result of COVID-19. While wait times remain low, and First Stop Health expects to continue to deliver speedy service, please be patient as they work to care for customers and keep up with the evolving protocols.  

Before contacting First Stop Health about COVID-19, please: 

  1. Ensure you are a First Stop Health customer. First Stop Health telemedicine service is provided through Uncovered. 
  2. Take your temperature. 
  3. Download the First Stop Health mobile app or login by clicking in the upper right-hand corner. You can call 888-691-7867, too, but requesting a doctor visit via app or web is the fastest way to talk to a doctor.   

Can First Stop Health doctors order COVID-19 lab tests?

No telemedicine providers can currently order a COVID-19 test. As of March 9, there were 79 labs in the U.S. with COVID-19 testing available (it’s currently in very short supply). 

How can I get tested? 

Only people who meet specific criteria outlined by the CDC should be tested. If a First Stop Health doctor determines that you do meet the criteria, their customer services team will follow up with you to coordinate communication with public health authorities. Like most other doctors (including those who practice telemedicine), First Stop Health doctors cannot simply order a lab test for COVID-19.

As of March 9, there were 79 labs in the U.S. with COVID-19 testing available (it’s currently in very short supply). For most people with mild symptoms, testing is not necessary because the course of treatment for COVID-19 doesn’t vary with a positive test result. 

Contact a First Stop Health Telemedicine doctor


Should I change my travel plans?

Click here to review current travel recommendations.

Should I wear a face mask?

If you are NOT sick, no. The average face mask does not protect you from getting this type of illness. 

If you are sick, yes. A face mask may help you from spreading your illness.

Should I keep social distance?

If possible, yes. According to the CDC, social distancing means as remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. This helps protect you from exposure and helps slow the spread of the virus.

To learn more, visit First Stop Health’s patient blog

COVID-19 General FAQ’s

How does COVID-19 spread? 

The virus is airborne, which means it spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. It can be spread through infected surfaces or objects, as well. 

How do I prevent it from spreading? 

Avoid sick people. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and wash them often. Stay updated with recommendations here

What are the symptoms? 

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can be more severe. 

How long before symptoms appear? 

After exposure, symptoms typically appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure.

How severe is COVID-19? 

Most people who are infected recover. Some don’t show any symptoms. An estimated 2.3% of those that contract COVID-19 die (this number is the  “case fatality rate” or “death rate”). The best outcomes are reported for those under 50 years old, where the death rate has been reported at 0.4% or less. 

Is there a vaccine available? 

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.

Can COVID-19 live on surfaces?

Yes. The best way to kill germs is by cleaning and disinfecting surfaces with household cleaning sprays or wipes.

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