Three important COVID-19 announcements were made this past week. First, there was a change in quarantine/isolation requirements for the community. Second, it was announced that free COVID-19 at-home tests could be ordered from the government. Lastly, the CDC updated its mask guidance and the government unveiled plans to make 400 million N95 masks available for free at pharmacies and community health centers across the country.
A lot to digest.
Our practices have been getting many questions about these updates. To alleviate our phone lines, when possible, we wanted to share the important highlights that you should know about each topic.
- Quarantine and Isolation Requirements
Remember, “quarantine” is for people who have a known exposure to COVID-19 (you have no symptoms) and “isolation” is for people who have a positive COVID-19 test or who have symptoms and are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.
The below link takes you to a chart on the CDC’s website. This is the most succinct review of the guidelines:
Read through it carefully and follow these guidelines.
A few things to note:
- If you are required to quarantine after an exposure according to the chart above, that means you stay home and away from other people; wear a well-fitting mask when around others (including at home, if possible); monitor for symptoms.
- If you are required to isolate, that means stay home in a separate room from others in the household, if possible; use a separate bathroom; wear a well-fitting mask at all times, especially if you can’t separate from everyone in your household; monitor your symptoms; avoid contact with people and pets; don’t share personal household items.
- Free At-Home COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests
IMPORTANT NOTE: for these at-home tests, you do NOT need a prescription or a note from your provider. You don’t need to contact us before obtaining your tests.
The USPS website is now letting you place your order for free at-home COVID-19 test kits: https://special.usps.com/testkits
- Tests are free.
- Limit of one order per residential address.
- One order includes 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests.
- Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days (depending on shipping delays). Order your tests now so you have them when you need them.
It takes less than two minutes to order, and you need to provide only your contact information and shipping address. CCP is not associated with this website, so we can’t assist with any issues with the website. This is a government initiative, and more information can be found at www.covidtests.gov/
What if you buy your COVID-19 tests at your local pharmacy? You can get reimbursed through your health plan for up to 8 individual at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per person enrolled in the plan per month. That means a family of four can get 32 tests per month for free. Note, CCP cannot assist with reimbursement. Please contact your health plan.
Below is additional information for you about how to get your at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test (authorized by the US FDA) at no cost, either through reimbursement or free of charge up front. Check out these FAQs.
- Free N95 Masks Provided by Federal Government
The CDC now says that N95 masks may be worn by the general public if people wish to wear them. To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, it is recommended that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
With that said, the US government will make 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from its strategic national stockpile available for free to the public. Retail chains such as CVS and Walgreens plan to distribute the masks, and some community health centers. From what we know as of now, there is not a website to order; masks need to be obtained by physically visiting the locations that have the supply of masks. The masks could be arriving as soon as next week at some locations, but the program will be fully ramped up by February.
There will be three masks distributed per person.
How do you get your masks? The details still need to be nailed down. We recommend that you check with your local CVS or Walgreens to see if they are participating in the program and how to obtain your free N95 masks.
If you can’t get an N95 mask, wear the best mask available to you, wear it all the time when around others, and wear it over your mouth AND nose.
Stay safe and continue to follow the guidelines.