This post was originally published on January 28, 2020.
On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the official name for the 2019 coronavirus outbreak is COVID-19. In accordance with WHO and CDC, Independence will update our website and any related materials to reflect the official name.
Independence Blue Cross is committed to serving the people who rely on us, especially when a significant health risk may be present. Along with our fellow Blue plans across the country, we are closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) which was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. As always, we are here to provide the peace of mind of health care coverage for our members when they get sick.
If our members would like information about specific symptoms they are experiencing or have questions about their personal health, we recommend that they contact their doctor. For reliable information about the coronavirus (COVID-19), we suggest visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
CDC considers COVID-19 a very serious public health threat. However, for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 s is considered low at this time. CDC continues to take proactive preparedness precautions.
CDC is currently recommending that people avoid all nonessential travel China. As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that members visit the CDC traveler health site for the most updated information about travel to China. CDC also advises older adults and people with chronic medical conditions to consider postponing nonessential travel to other areas, including Japan and South Korea, while using “usual travel precautions” to other destinations.
COVID-19 is getting a lot of attention in the media and is a serious global health concern. It is also important to remember that influenza, or seasonal flu, is a much more significant and immediate health concern for Americans. As we have in previous years, Independence Blue Cross encourages all members to discuss getting a flu shot with their physicians.
For more information and precautions to protect against seasonal flu and other diseases, please visit the CDC’s website: cdc.gov/flu.
CDC has recommendations for the public as it relates to COVID-19:
- Stay informed by visiting the CDC website. CDC is updating the site daily with the latest information and advice for the public.
- Take everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- If someone feels sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and has traveled to China or has been in close contact with someone with the current coronavirus in the 14 days before beginning to feel sick, seek medical care. Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about any recent travel and symptoms.
CDC has also shared an interim guide for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19. The guide includes recommended strategies for employers to use now, such as:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps