COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resource Center
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly and we are here to help. By using First Stop Health 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 do not provide COVID-19 tests. Patients must work with their local health authorities to be tested. Testing still remains in very short supply and is typically limited to those that have the highest risk, such as first responders, healthcare workers, or people with elevated risk factors like chronic conditions. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published priorities for testing, but local resources vary widely.
How can I get tested?
Check with your local health system or local or state health department for the most up-to-date information.
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 flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, body aches, and in serious cases, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, the doctor will assess the severity of the symptoms.
- In most cases, patients presenting with mild symptoms will be told to remain at home and quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. In some cases, patients may have secondary infections that the doctor will treat. For example, if someone has a bacterial infection, they may receive antibiotics. However, there are no specific treatments for COVID-19.
- If the patient is having difficulty breathing or is in respiratory distress, the doctor will advise the patient to dial 911 and let the dispatcher know that they may have COVID-19.
- FSH will provide information to the patient via email to contact their local health authorities.
- If you do not have symptoms, but have been exposed to COVID-19, the CDC advises you can return to work with certain precautions, including:
- take your temperature and watch for symptoms,
- wear a mask in public
- practice social distancing
- regularly clean surfaces in your workspace, and
- avoid public areas like break rooms.
Could I have COVID-19?
According to the 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.
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 expect 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 guidance on when it’s safe to return to work?
FSH doctors can provide information to you to provide to your employer based on your answers to a few questions HERE.
Generally, returning to work is considered safe following upper respiratory symptoms when you:
- Have not been recommended quarantine or isolation by a FSH doctor OR have completed recommended quarantine or isolation
- Have been symptom-free for 72 hours, which includes: No fever without using fever-reducing medicine, AND no cough, AND no shortness of breath
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?
The CDC guidelines for people that have been in close contact (i.e. they are the caregiver, share a home, or have been less than 6 feet away for more than 10 minutes) with a known case of COVID-19, even before their symptoms developed, recommend a 14-day quarantine , but are not showing symptoms. During this time, the patient should stay home, keep social distance from people inside the home, self-monitor for symptoms and avoid contact with high risk individuals. 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, body aches, loss of taste or smell, 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. During isolation, and even for a period following isolation, the CDC recommends an infected person wear a mask in public, or when they come within 6 feet of another individual. 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?
The CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The mask should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for easy breathing, and
- be able to be washed/dried without damage or change to shape.
NOTE: Cloth masks do not provide complete protection. Maintaining "social distance" is still important.
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):
- What can people do to protect themselves?
- Why is it recommended to avoid contact with anyone who has fever and cough?