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?

The symptoms can range from mild to very bad. These symptoms may start two to 14 days after being around people infected with the virus. People with one or more of these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or a hard time breathing.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Repeated shaking with chills.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

How do coronaviruses spread?

People can pass coronaviruses to other people through sneezing and coughing. Being around people who have the virus can put you at risk of getting the virus. The virus can also be in the air and on things that you touch.

What can I do to help not get the coronavirus?

Here are some things you can do to help keep from getting it:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Disinfect surfaces in your home and workplace.
  • Cover your face with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue away immediately.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Wear a cloth mask to cover your nose and mouth in public places. This can help you and other people to keep from getting the virus.

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

If you think you are getting sick, call your primary care provider (PCP). He or she can help find out why you feel that way. Your PCP will know how to help you feel better. In case of an emergency, call 911.

How do I know if I am at high risk for COVID-19?

Older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These medical conditions include:

  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant.
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher).
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Children who are medically complex; have neurologic, genetic, or metabolic conditions; or have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.

People with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe).
  • Cerebrovascular disease (disease affecting blood vessels and blood supply to the brain).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure.
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune-weakening medicines.
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia.
  • Liver disease.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissue).
  • Smoking.
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder).
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Where can I get tested?

Call your primary care provider (PCP) if you want to find out about testing. Your PCP will know if you need to be tested for COVID-19. Your PCP will tell you where to go for testing. There may be testing at no cost in your area.

Is coronavirus testing covered under my benefits and services?

Yes. Your AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana benefits cover COVID-19 testing and the visit to get the test in a doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency department.

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 PCP'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. 

Learn more about telemedicine

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.

For questions about telemedicine or help finding a provider, call Member Services at 1-888-756-0004, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For medical questions, call the 24/7 Nurse Call Line at 1-888-632-0009, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more resources and guidance, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 homepage

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

Telehealth information for Ochsner patients (PDF).

Telehealth FAQs for Christus Health 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?

Social distancing means keeping space between you and other people when you are outside of your home. Keep distance (at least 6 feet) 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.

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 receive 350 minutes, including free calls to AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana’s Member Services call line, and 3GB of data.

Lifeline Communications Program

Lifeline is a federal benefit that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet services to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. Learn more Learn more about Lifeline.

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

  • For questions about coronavirus, please contact the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing dial 211. Or, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for the most current information about the outbreak as it becomes available. You can also get answers here: or visit the Louisiana Department of Health web page,