The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly and we are here to help. By using First Stop Health (FSH) telemedicine provided through your employer, you can avoid a trip to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or emergency room.
Can FSH doctors order COVID-19 lab tests?
Our providers cannot currently order a COVID-19 test. Patients must work with their local public health authorities to be tested. Testing remains in very short supply and is typically limited to those that have the highest risk, such as known exposure to a confirmed case.
Information is changing rapidly, but NBC News has organized a list by state of who and how to reach out for tests.
How can I get tested?
Check with your local health system or local or state health department for the most up-to-date information.
People who meet specific criteria outlined by the CDC may be eligible for testing. Local resources are preserved to provide care to those with the most immediate need. If a First Stop Health doctor determines that you do meet the criteria, you will receive a follow-up email with information on how to contact their local health authorities for additional screening and testing.
While testing is important for public health, it’s not necessary for most people with mild symptoms. Treatment for those with mild symptoms from COVID-19 is the same for a presumed/suspected case of COVID-19 and for a confirmed case. If you are experiencing cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath (symptoms consistent with COVID 19), quarantine yourself and other members in your home.
How does FSH screen patients?
Our doctors follow 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.
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:
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 dispatcher 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 FSH?
FSH is experiencing an increase in telemedicine visits as a result of COVID-19. While wait times remain low, and we suspect to continue to deliver speedy service, please be patient as we work to care for our members and keep up with the evolving protocols.
Before contacting FSH about COVID-19, please:
Can FSH doctors provide a clearance for return to work?
Under very strict circumstances, yes. Our doctors may only clear patients to work with upper respiratory symptoms based on the following criteria.
If you have not been tested for COVID-19, you must have:
Refer to the CDC for additional information on how to discontinue self-quarantine.
Note: FSH doctors cannot order COVID-19 tests and therefore cannot certify a patient does not have COVID-19.
What does First Stop Health do if a patient meets CDC criteria to be eligible for testing?
FSH will provide information to the patient via email to contact their local health authorities. Follow-up care for COVID-19 varies and is coordinated by local public health departments.
Can FSH give me a sick note?
The CDC recommends employers not require a doctor’s note during the COVID-19 pandemic. First Stop Health suggests employers heed this CDC advice. Doctors’ offices may be unusually busy, which means getting a note may require a long wait on the phone or with follow-up visits.
That said, we will continue to issue doctor’s notes for those patients that request them when they request a telemedicine visit. Typically, we only issue doctor’s notes for up to 4 days. Given the CDC recommendations on 14-day self quarantines for those that are suspected to have COVID-19, First Stop Health will temporarily be lifting the cap to 14 days when appropriate.
When would FSH doctors recommend quarantine?
A 14-day quarantine is recommended when a person has been exposed to COVID-19, but is not showing symptoms. When a patient has been exposed to a known case of COVID-19, but does not show his or her symptoms, doctors will recommend a 14-day quarantine. This helps ensure the person does not pass the illness to others.
When would FSH doctors recommend isolation?
The doctor will recommend isolation if a patient has one or more symptoms of COVID-19, such as dry cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath. Isolation, however, is required when a person HAS COVID-19 symptoms. Isolation is required until the person is symptom-free for 72 hours and for 1 week after the symptoms began. This helps ensure the person does not pass the illness to others.
When/how should I wash my hands?
After being in public (mass transit, grocery stores, etc.) or touching things others have touched (door handles, railings, etc.), give your hands a 20-second scrub. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Should I change my travel plans?
If you’re planning a trip anywhere outside the U.S., you can view travel restrictions, recommendations and updates on the CDC website.
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 prevent your spreading the illness.
Should I keep social distance?
Yes. According to the CDC, social distancing means avoiding group settings and mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of approximately 6 feet (2 meters) from others. This helps protect you from exposure and helps slow the spread of the virus.
Why is telemedicine helpful?
By using telemedicine, you avoid waiting room germs. Our doctors can treat illnesses, such as the flu, sinus congestion or pink eye. The more you can avoid places with sick people, the better. If your employer provides First Stop Health telemedicine, our doctors are here for you 24/7.
Our doctors evaluate possible cases of COVID-19 and advise on the home treatment of mild cases. Severe cases (respiratory distress / difficulty breathing) will be told to call 911.
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 contact with 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.
How severe is COVID-19?
Most people who are infected recover. Some don’t show any symptoms. An estimated 2.3% of those who 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 is 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.
Public Health Resources
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO):
First Stop Health, our telemedicine service available to Alliance health plan participants, provides 24/7 virtual treatment and care from U.S.-based and licensed physicians for a variety of health concerns. From the flu to a bug bite, First Stop Health is just a click away, saves participants health-care dollars , and provides top-notch service. They believe access to health-care should be convenient, affordable, and transparent.