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Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

What is a coronavirus?

A coronavirus causes a viral infection. It affects the respiratory (breathing) system. You may have heard of other coronaviruses like MERS and SARS. A new strain of coronavirus is now in the United States.

What is the name of the disease caused by this new coronavirus?

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the new name of this disease is “coronavirus disease 2019.” For short, it is called COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Repeated shaking with chills.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • New loss of taste or smell.

How do coronaviruses spread?

Coronaviruses can live in the air and on surfaces. That means they can spread like many other viruses. Sneezing, coughing, and coming in contact with an infected person can put you at risk.

What can I do to help prevent getting the coronavirus?

As of now, there are no vaccines for this coronavirus. But there are other things you can do to help prevent illness:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Disinfect surfaces in your home and workplace.
  • Don’t touch your face, nose, or mouth.
  • Cover your face with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw the tissue away.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.

What do I do if I think I’m getting sick?

If you think you are getting sick, call your primary care provider. He or she can help find out what condition you have and the best way to get better. In case of an emergency, call 911.

How do I know if I am at high risk?

Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions are at high risk. Those conditions include:

  • Asthma.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease.

I am pregnant. Am I at high risk?

There are no reports about the risk to pregnant women and children from COVID-19. This is something that is still being studied. Pregnant women should follow the same prevention tips as other people.

Where can I get tested?

If you have any questions about whether you should be tested, call your primary care provider. They will work with the state, the local public health department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Is coronavirus testing covered under my benefits and services?

Yes, as long as it is ordered by your doctor.

Will I be able to keep my Medicaid coverage?

Louisiana Medicaid is making temporary changes to coverage for eligible Louisiana families during the federal and state declared COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

  • Medicaid applications have been streamlined to ensure anyone eligible for Medicaid who needs healthcare coverage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has access to coverage.
  • No current Medicaid enrollees will lose coverage for any reason other than death, permanently moving out of state, or requesting to end coverage. All periodic data checks, including quarterly wage checks, are suspended.

My doctor’s office is closed and I need medical care. Who can I see?

AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana continues to monitor the latest information regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19). We know some providers may have closed their offices. If this happens, there may be other options to get the care you need. For example, members can now access telemedicine services. 

Telemedicine (sometimes called telehealth) means you can connect with a provider outside of the office. If your PCP’s office is closed, ask if you can:

  • Video chat with your PCP through a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Text with your PCP through a secure web portal.
  • Talk to your PCP by phone. 

Some PCPs may not offer these services. If you can’t get in contact with your PCP, we can help connect you to another provider. 

Here is a list of providers who have told us they are currently using telemedicine (PDF).

Telehealth information for Ochsner patients (PDF).

Telehealth FAQs for Christus Health patients.

Telehealth information for LSU patients.

For questions about telemedicine or help finding a provider, call Member Services 24/7 at 1.888.756.0004. For medical questions, call the 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-888-632-0009. 

What is social distancing?

According to the CDC, social distancing means:

  • Stay out of crowded places.
  • Avoid group gatherings.
  • Maintain distance (about six feet or two meters) from others when you can.

I am feeling overwhelmed/scared/stressed about the coronavirus. What can I do?

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, call:

  • AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana’s 24-hour Nurse Call Line at 1-888-632-0009.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
  • Keeping Calm Through COVID hotline, 1-866-310-7977 at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential.
  • Crisis Counseling Text Line: text REACHOUT (all caps together) to 741741 or call 1-866-310-7977 to connect to a trained crisis counselor. For more information, visit

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911.

Call your primary care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on managing stress:

Where can I find resources to help support addiction recovery?  

Several organizations are offering online resources to help members stay in recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.

I have a SafeLink mobile phone. Will I have enough data and minutes for the month?

Yes. AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana members with SafeLink phones will automatically receive unlimited minutes for the months of April and May, along with an additional 5GB of data for April. As a reminder, all calls and texts to AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana are at no cost to you.

Where can I go for more information?
For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus and COVID-19, visit: