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Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and resources

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Last updated: October 13, 2021

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has impacted all of us. We want to make sure you have the latest information about your benefits, how to get the care you need, and how to find local help and resources. 

COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines for COVID-19 have been proven to be safe and effective against the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 vaccines do not cost you anything.You can find a vaccine site and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine by:

•    Visiting vaccines.gov.
•    Texting your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829). 
•    Calling 800-232-0233 (TTY 711) from 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern time; someone will help you make an appointment.

Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine now

Activate or log in to your online account to stay up-to-date on the latest information. 

Set up your account

Find a COVID-19 test site

Use this tool to quickly locate testing sites near you. Just enter your state and county.

Find a COVID-19 test facility

See more COVID-19 vaccine and virus FAQs at the bottom of the page.

Focusing on your health

These temporary changes have been put in place to make it easier for you to focus on your health and those you care about.

Keep your information updated with the state 

If you receive health benefits from the state, they may contact you from time to time with important information. If you have moved or changed addresses, update your information by visiting nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

If you have any questions about your benefits, we’re here for you. Call Member Services at at the number on your Empire member ID card , or log in to your account to send us a secure message

Receiving the care you need

See a doctor without leaving home


Telehealth is a doctor visit through video chat or over the phone. It allows you to take care of your health without having to leave home. Your plan will pay for telehealth visits with your doctor. If you can’t reach your doctor, call 24/7 NurseLine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the number on your ID card. 
 
LiveHealth Online icon


LiveHealth Online

With LiveHealth Online, you can video chat with a doctor 24/7 from your smartphone, tablet or computer at no cost to you. It’s an easy way to get care for you or your family anytime of the day or night without leaving home.

Start using LiveHealth Online
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Find a COVID-19 test site

Use this tool to quickly locate testing sites near you. Just enter your state and county.


Take care of your mental health

You might be feeling anxious or stressed with all of the information about COVID-19. Taking care of your mental health is more important than ever.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers helpful resources

If you need to speak with someone right away, call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7: 800-985-5990. 


myStrength

myStrength is an online tool that can help you lower your stress and improve your mental health. As an Empire member, you can use this tool at no cost to you.

Go to myStrength
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Psych Hub

Psych Hub offers free online resources and videos to help you manage stress, talk to children about coronavirus disease 2019, cope with job loss and other COVID-19 challenges.

Go to Psych Hub

Finding resources you may need

Mother and child

Free smartphone from SafeLink Wireless®

SafeLink offers free smartphones with data, texts and minutes to those who qualify. Use your phone to keep up with important information, use telehealth services, and stay in touch with family and friends.

Go to SafeLink


Learn about the Emergency Broadband Benefit

FAQs

Coronavirus food delivery

COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are available now to people age 12 and up. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized several COVID-19 vaccines. They are working quickly to assess data in younger age groups. . Learn more here.

No. Your COVID-19 vaccine does not cost you anything. 

According to the CDC, the vaccines are safe and effective.The vaccines went through the FDA’s review process meeting their standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing. Hundreds of millions of people have received the vaccine since mid-December 2020. The FDA, CDC, and vaccine manufacturers continue to monitor their safety and quality. So far, serious safety problems are very rare. If you are fully vaccinated, you can go back to doing many activities you did before the pandemic.   

Many children with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms. But some children have become severely ill from COVID-19. Some have needed hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. Children who have COVID-19 and no symptoms can still spread the virus to others.  

COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This included robust studies in adolescents. The vaccines met the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. 

No vaccine is 100% effective against any virus, but the COVID-19 vaccines come close. In clinical trials, they were about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection and reduced the risk of severe illness. The data we have today shows they are effective against variants found to date, as well. 

Medicaid: If you have Medicaid with us, you can activate your online account to get updates on COVID-19 vaccines.

Download the Empire HealthPlus app from Google Play or the App Store.

Apple iTunes - Download Empire HealthPlus space Google Play - Download Empire HealthPlus
 

Medicare: If you have Medicare with us, you can activate your online account or download the Sydney app from Google Play or the App Store.

The vaccines cannot make you sick with COVID-19 because they do not contain the virus. It’s normal to have mild side effects to most vaccines. This means your body is responding to the vaccine by making antibodies.  
 

Yes. Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, you could still benefit from the vaccine. You can talk to your primary care provider to see what they recommend. The CDC also has information about the benefits of the vaccine.

Learn more about COVID-19

It is an airway and lung infection. It is similar to the flu. 

Similar to the flu, but often more serious. Mild to severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, and nausea or vomiting are just some of the common symptoms.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after being around someone who has COVID-19.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Check the CDC website for up-to-date information. If you are traveling, visit cdc.gov  for the CDC’s most current travel guidelines.

Good health habits can also help prevent and fight COVID-19. Here are some tips:

•    Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth, especially if you are not vaccinated.
•    Keep 6 feet between yourself and others.  
•    Washing your hands is the best way to avoid getting sick. Wash often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot use soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect items and surfaces you touch often with regular household cleaning spray or a wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Then throw away the tissue.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Older adults, people with disabilities, and people with diabetes or who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. We will support you and help you get the care you need.

If you are caring for someone, be sure visitors take care to avoid causing any extra risk to you or them. Get vaccinated, keep hand sanitizer by the door, and ask visitors to wash their hands.  Wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer before and after touching or feeding someone, or touching any mobility devices or equipment.

You should check with state and local guidance on masking requirements. Here is what the CDC says about  face coverings..

Call your doctor if you develop a fever, have a cough, or have a hard time  breathing. Tell them if you have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. Also tell them  if you live in or have been to an area where the virus has spread. 

Your plan will pay for telehealth visits with your doctor. If you cannot reach your doctor, call 24/7 NurseLine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the number on your ID card. 

If you have a Medicaid plan with us, you do not have to pay anything for the COVID-19 test or the doctor visit to get the test. The visit and test are covered whether you get care in a doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency department.

No, prior authorization is not required for COVID-19 testing.

You should try to see your primary care provider  or a doctor in your plan. If your doctor offers telehealth visits, your plan will pay for those, too. 

We will pay for care you get from doctors outside your plan (called “out of network”) as long as the services are medically needed.

No. If you have health benefits from us, your plan covers sick visits and tests.

If you have medicines you take regularly, call  the Pharmacy Member Services number on your member ID card to find out about your options.

Your health is important. Try to keep taking your medicines as prescribed, and try to get your refills on time.