Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update Center
COVID-19 Delta Variant
According to the CDC, the current Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is more contagious and spreads faster compared to other variants. Some data suggests the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people. In two different studies from Canada and Scotland, patients infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with Alpha or the original virus strains.
Although breakthrough infections happen much less often than infections in unvaccinated people, individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others. The CDC is continuing to assess data on whether fully vaccinated people with asymptomatic breakthrough infections can transmit. However, the greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract, and therefore transmit the virus.
Vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of contracting the virus that cause COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant.
COVID-19 Vaccine Third Shot
The CDC recommends that individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. This includes individuals who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medications to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge Syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high dose steroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune system
The CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time.
For individuals who have received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. Individuals should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.
The FDA and CDC recommendation for a booster shot only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). There is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies COVID-19 vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy
CDC guidance indicates that COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. Data suggests that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
According to the CDC, pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.
COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
The COVID-19 vaccines continue to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic!
An effective COVID-19 vaccine will help protect people who come in contact with the virus from becoming sick and hopefully help bring an end to the pandemic.
But some are concerned about the safety of the vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), safety has always been a top priority when developing and authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine.
Some key areas of safety include:
- Careful Testing. All vaccines go through clinical trials to test for safety and effectiveness. For the COVID-19 vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set up rigorous safety standards for vaccine developers to meet.
- Clinical Trials. None of the vaccine clinical trials reported any serious safety concerns. Trials for the COVID-19 vaccine have had fully independent safety monitoring boards, and safety data are continuously reviewed by the FDA and expert panels.
- Continuous Monitoring. Once a vaccine is authorized for use, monitoring by the FDA and the CDC continues, with systems in place to track problems or side effects that were not detected during the clinical trials.
- Allergy Concerns. The CDC indicated people with allergies to certain foods, insects, latex and other common allergens can have the COVID-19 vaccine. Those with a history of severe allergic reactions to injectables or other vaccines should discuss the vaccine with their doctor, who can then evaluate the individual and assess their risk.
Some areas of concern we’ve highlighted are:
- Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?
- Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine or after getting the vaccine?
- Are there any side effects after taking the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
Even though a safe COVID-19 vaccine is available, following CDC guidelines is important. Recent CDC recommendations state that fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask or socially distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
If an individual has not been vaccinated, they should continue to follow current preventive measures including wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, and washing hands frequently.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and its availability in your area, contact your physician’s office or local pharmacy. Additional COVID-19 topics and how the pandemic could affect you and your family can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
Because testing kits are in short supply and resources to handle a huge volume of coronavirus tests are not available, please read this information to help determine if you need to be tested. Once you have determined that you need to be tested. Click on link below to access health departments links in all 50 states, 8 US territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.
Because testing kits are in short supply and resources to handle a huge volume of coronavirus tests are not available, please read this information to help determine if you need to be tested.
Once you have determined that you need to be tested. Click on link below to access health departments links in all 50 states, 8 US territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.
You and your families are our top priority. New Directions' emotional support line is available 24/7 to assist you during this time of stress and uncertainty. Call 833-848-1764 to speak to a licensed therapist. Looking for additional important resources and helpful information? Click on link below to access tips for coping with the COVID-19 outbreak and more.
You and your families are our top priority. New Directions' emotional support line is available 24/7 to assist you during this time of stress and uncertainty. Call 833-848-1764 to speak to a licensed therapist.
Looking for additional important resources and helpful information? Click on link below to access tips for coping with the COVID-19 outbreak and more.
Unfortunately, there have been many reports of fraudulent acts related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. We want to help you stay safe and aware by informing you of some of the scams you need to be on the lookout for:
- Door-to-door solicitation for COVID-19 testing and prescribing
- Phone calls asking for your Blue Cross contract information for free testing and/or services
- Outreach from healthcare workers offering to send you an at-home test kit
- False advertisements for vaccinations or medications to treat COVID-19
- Unexplained or unauthorized lab tests or prescriptions appearing on your Claims statement (Explanation of Benefits/EOB)
- Advertisements offering health products that are unsuccessful against treating COVID-19 (i.e. herbal teas, supplements, oils or ointments)
- Fraudulent emails referencing “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19,” which contain malicious software that can damage your device
Blue Cross has made telehealth services related to COVID-19 available to members. Telehealth services can serve as an initial screening for members who need to be tested for COVID-19.
Check with your in-network provider to see if they offer telehealth services. To locate a current listing of in-network providers, login to myBlueCross and visit FindADoctor.
Tips and Advice
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your hands
- Stay home if sick, and stay home for at least 24 hours after the last signs of fever
Download our guide here
- Stay home and away from others in your household
- Call before visiting your doctor
- Wear a face mask whenever possible
- Clean surfaces that are touched often as much as possible. Examples include counter tops, doorknobs, telephones, toys, bathroom fixtures and keyboards
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw tissues away in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands afterwards
- Clean your hands often
- Monitor your symptoms
Download our "What should I do next" guide here
Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 is the official name for the illness caused by the newly identified coronavirus. Since the outbreak began late last year, infections have been reported in numerous international locations, including within the United States.
On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” On January 31st, the U.S. Health and Human Services office declared a public health emergency to aid the U.S. healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are not new, and are very common in many species of animals, including camels, cattle and bats. Occasionally coronaviruses can infect people and then spread person-to-person, as was the case with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and now with COVID-19. Coronaviruses infect the respiratory tract and are associated with the common cold and pneumonia.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
It may be possible that a person can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people practice frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Some people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 experience very mild symptoms while others have experienced severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and have included:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Yes. The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines. The approval of these vaccines is a major development in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The current vaccines are up to 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 and provide a high level of protection against contracting the virus. Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family, your community, and your country healthy and safe.
The CDC recommends the following best practices to avoid becoming sick with a respiratory illness:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Stay home when sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then discard the tissue
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
People who have recently traveled to any area where there is an outbreak, or had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and develop symptoms, should contact their healthcare provider and make them aware of their symptoms and exposure. Their healthcare provider will advise them of the appropriate next steps.
Claims and Benefits
As a result of the Families First Act, as amended by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, both in-network and out-of-network diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and the related in-person or telehealth visit, emergency room visit, or urgent care visit are covered at 100% during the declared public national emergency. Members are not required to pay for these services.
Yes. If medically necessary, multiple diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will be covered.
Yes. As required by the Families First Act/CARES Act, COVID-19 at-home tests must be covered at 100% with no member cost sharing if that test has been approved by the FDA, received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or whose manufacturer has the intent to apply for an EUA, AND if the purpose of the test is for diagnosis and/or treatment of COVID-19 and NOT for surveillance purposes (such as testing required by an employer, institution or school).
International claims for medically necessary services related to COVID-19 will process at the in-network level of benefits.
Based on recent IRS guidelines, expenses related to testing and treatment, including related office visits, for COVID-19 can process pre-deductible under an HSA-qualified HDHP.
Prime Therapeutics (Prime)/Pharmacy Questions
Yes. We are working with Prime to allow members to obtain early refills of their medications. Prime will allow early refills on prescription drugs including retail, maintenance, mail order and specialty drugs until further notice.
Prime is maintaining communication with all pharmacies and notifying them how to submit early refill prescription claims. Contact your pharmacy if an early refill of your prescription medication(s) is needed.We recommend members use their 90-day retail or mail order benefit when possible.
News and Updates
A Message About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread, many are concerned about the possible impact to themselves and their families. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is closely monitoring the situation and has prepared contingency plans to ensure business operations continue to run smoothly in the event of a widespread outbreak.
To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, we encourage you to follow the CDC’s guidelines:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not your hands.
- Stay home if sick, and stay home for at least 24 hours after the last signs of fever.
To keep current on the latest COVID-19 developments, please visit the CDC’s website.