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Coronavirus
(COVID-19) FAQ

You probably have questions about coronavirus, and the experts at UPMC Health Plan and UPMC have teamed up to give you answers.

What is the source of COVID-19, and how is it spread?

Coronavirus is a respiratory (lung) disease caused by a new (novel) virus called COVID-19. The most common way for the virus to spread is person-to-person contact, including:

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Through close personal contact (e.g., hugging, shaking hands, kissing)
  • Through surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Please note that symptoms vary from person to person, and may include other signs, such as loss of taste and smell. Symptoms can appear as early as two days after exposure to as many as 14 days. Older people and those of all ages with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Practice social distancing.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing

Worried about exposure to the virus? These tools can help you understand your risk and make a plan. You can check symptoms and get answers to questions you may have. If needed, we can help you get tested for coronavirus.

How to get tested

If you suspect that you (or a member of your family) have coronavirus (COVID-19), but you do not have a high fever or breathing problems, please take any of the following steps:

  1. Call your primary care provider. Your PCP can tell you what to do next and give you instructions if you need to be tested. Some doctors also offer virtual visits so you can receive care and consultation from home.
  2. Use UPMC AnywhereCare. This online service allows you to have a virtual visit with a provider from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.* Doing this from home is the best way to limit the spread of any infectious disease. If your doctor feels you need to be tested for COVID-19, you will be directed to the next steps.
  3. Call the UPMC MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line. Our nurses offer support and advice on a wide range of health issues and can help direct you to the next step in seeking any recommended medical care. The MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line is available at 1-866-918-1591 (TTY: 711).
  4. If you have severe or life-threatening symptoms and need to go to an emergency department you should do so. UPMC is ready to provide care. Call ahead if you can so that the facility can prepare for your arrival. You should not go to the emergency department for a simple cough or mild fever.

UPMC’s COVID-19 testing sites are not open to the general public. You must have a physician referral. UPMC testing is by appointment only and only for patients with a prescription from their physician.

View testing site locations

Do not try to visit the UPMC testing site without an appointment.

Who can get tested?

You can get tested by UPMC if your doctor orders it. In some cases, that order may need to be approved by UPMC’s Infection Prevention Team. Other testing options may be available from commercial laboratory testing providers, but these testing results may take longer due to transport of the collected specimen. You should discuss testing options with your doctor.

How much will testing cost?

View our COVID-19 member benefits page for more information based on your coverage type.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are updated regularly on the CDC website.

* UPMC Health Plan members located in Pennsylvania at the time of virtual visit may select a UPMC-employed provider or a provider from Online Care Network II, P.C. (OCN), subject to availability. Members located outside of Pennsylvania will receive service from OCN. OCN is not an affiliate of UPMC.

Your wait time for UPMC AnywhereCare may be longer than usual due to increased call volume. If there is a wait, you can stay in the virtual waiting room or choose "text me when the provider is available."

If you have questions about your coverage, see your plan documents or contact Member Services for the most up-to-date information regarding your benefits.