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COVID-19: Frequently asked questions

Geisinger is committed to the safety and well-being of our patients, members, employees and communities. Check this page for the latest information regarding COVID-19.

Updated February 3, 2021

Having reliable information is key to staying safe from — and slowing the spread of — COVID-19. On this page, you’ll find the latest updates and a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand the facts about the virus.

What are coronaviruses and COVID-19? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of diverse, common viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to a severe lower respiratory tract infection, like pneumonia. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that usually includes not only an upper respiratory tract infection, but also a lower respiratory tract infection, which can lead to pneumonia and breathing issues. 

How is COVID-19 spread?

Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, spread like most respiratory viruses, including the flu or a cold:

  • Droplets traveling through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

What symptoms should I be on the lookout for?

COVID-19 symptoms can appear as early as 2 days and as late as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms are similar to a cold or flu with fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can last up to 14 days.

Most people with COVID-19 will have minimal symptoms and will fully recover. Those with certain underlying health conditions and who are over age 60 are at a higher risk of infection and related complications. However, don’t assume that you’re safe from COVID or complications if you’re young and healthy. Anyone can get very sick from the virus.

What should I do if I have flu-like symptoms?

If you aren’t feeling well, stay home, rest and drink lots of fluids. Keep an eye on your symptoms and call your doctor if they worsen.

If you’re having symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, before you visit a doctor’s office, clinic or emergency room, use our self-screening tool, call your doctor or our 24/7 hotline at 570-284-3657 for care guidance or to talk with a nurse.

We ask that you do this before heading to the ER or seeking care at your doctor’s office, unless your symptoms worsen, and you have no other options for care. The ER is often a crowded place, and the risk of infection to you and others is higher there. 

What can people do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

The best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 are to:  

  • Practice social distancing. Don’t shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others. 
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing and visiting public areas. Alcohol-based sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options for hand hygiene.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.

Most importantly, if you’re feeling sick or showing signs of an illness, be very cautious about going into public spaces. It’s best to stay home and isolate yourself from others.

What should I do about upcoming international and domestic travel?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates travel recommendations during the pandemic. Visit the CDC website to get the most up-to-date information.

Should I self-quarantine if I’m feeling ill or returning from international travel?

It’s a good idea to stay home when feeling sick to prevent the spread of any virus or other disease. The CDC COVID-19 website has full recommendations for people returning from international travel

Where can I find information about the COVID-19 vaccine?

For more information about the vaccine and its distribution, visit our vaccine FAQ page.

Will my flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

No. However, getting a flu shot can help you avoid influenza, which could be confused with COVID-19 due to similar symptoms. And you can get the flu and COVID at the same time. It’s highly recommended that everyone get their flu shot if they haven’t already had it.

Should I get tested for COVID?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined guidelines for the prioritization of COVID-19 tests, which are used for: 

  • Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough, fever or difficulty breathing
  • And those who have been in close contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 or who has had a laboratory-confirmed positive test

For more information about COVID-19 testing at Geisinger, click here.

What should I do if I would like to get tested?

Geisinger will only test people who meet CDC screening criteria. If you’re having symptoms you think are related to COVID-19, first call your primary care physician, who can advise on proper treatment — and if necessary, recommend further testing. Geisinger patients can also screen themselves and schedule a COVID-19 test in myGeisinger.

You can also call our nurse triage line at 570-284-3657 with questions about symptoms or the need for further evaluation or testing.

Should I cancel my upcoming appointments?

At Geisinger, we follow CDC best practices and guidelines for infection control and prevention to ensure our facilities are always safe. There’s no need to avoid our clinics or hospitals when seeking scheduled or emergency care. 

For information on the precautions we're taking to keep our patients, members, staff and communities safe, click here.

Can I see a provider virtually during the pandemic?

If you’d prefer to see a provider from home, Geisinger offers telemedicine visits for routine and specialty care. 

Is Geisinger restricting visitation in its hospitals?

Visitation policies are subject to change. Before traveling to visit a patient, check our updated hospital visitor policy.

How will Geisinger Health Plan cover the cost of COVID-19 tests or treatments?

Geisinger Health Plan (GHP) wants to be sure that cost is not a barrier to testing for COVID-19. 

To address the spread of COVID-19, GHP is doing the following for its members

  • Co-pays for testing: Costs will be waived through April 21, 2021 for all COVID-19 testing at an approved laboratory location for all our GHP members who meet the CDC guidelines for testing. Self-insured/TPA groups can opt out of this program.
  • Treatment costs: If a member is hospitalized for COVID-19, all in-network, inpatient treatment costs will be waived. This is also effective through April 21, 2021.
  • Prescription refills: We are relaxing refill quantity and frequency restrictions to offer 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions and allowing GHP members to refill their prescriptions early. 
  • Prior authorization: Prior authorization will not be a barrier for any COVID-19 related testing or treatment. 
  • Home prescription delivery: We are relaxing restrictions on home prescription delivery. We’re also encouraging eligible GHP members to use mail-order pharmacy.
  • Telehealth: We’re working with our clinical teams and Teladoc to expand telehealth offerings for our GHP members.

Read more about coronavirus and treatment coverage.

For more information on COVID-testing at Geisinger, click here.

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COVID-19 updates: Visit Geisinger's Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest information and helpful resources.

Information for Geisinger employees

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