Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

On July 2, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.

The CDC encourages people to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It should fit over your mouth and nose. Please read how to wear, remove, care for your face covering, requirements and exceptions at ReadyHarris.org.  If you think you are sick with Coronavirus (COVID-19), call your doctor.

Here are more ways to get healthy and stay healthy:

  • Eat healthy food, and cut down on processed foods.
  • Reduce or eliminate tobacco and alcohol.
  • Check in with your doctor and our Care Management department if you are managing a chronic condition.
  • Check in with your doctor and our Behavioral Health department if you are experiencing stress and anxiety, depression and other behavioral health conditions.

Are you due for an annual wellness screening? Check the chart!

Keep children healthy: Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.

  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make handwashing a family activity.
  • Learn more about what you can do to protect children.

Wellness Exams – STAR and CHIP Members: Texas Health Steps checkups and Well-child exams, also known as wellness checkups, are the best way to help your child stay healthy as they grow. Medicaid members get Texas Health Steps checkups from birth through 20 years of age. CHIP Members get well-child exams from birth through 18 years of age. Read more in our Wellness Corner. If you need help, call Wellness Services toll-free at 1.888.760.2600.

Wellness Exams – Marketplace Members: Wellness exams are covered benefit. Review your benefits and make an appointment with your doctor. If you need help, call Marketplace Member Services toll-free at 1.855.315.5386.

Vaccines: Get vaccinated. Keeping immunization rates high in our community is essential for individual health and the health of our community. It is our responsibility to keep each other safe. Just like wearing a mask, social distancing and handwashing helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, staying up to date with childhood immunizations keeps each individual child protected from vaccine preventable diseases that cause serious illnesses (pneumonia, meningitis, cancer, etc.) and protects vulnerable people in our community that have conditions that prevent them from receiving vaccines.

Vaccines are available for these 17 dangerous or deadly diseases. Over the years, these vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. Infants, children, adolescents, teens and adults need different vaccinations, depending on their age, location, job, lifestyle, travel schedule, health conditions or previous vaccinations.

In-Person Doctor Visits

Our Providers are making their offices safe for in-person visits. Take control of your health by scheduling a preventive health screening or wellness checkup today. They are a covered benefit.

Alerts

  • You do not have to pay doctors or labs offering referrals to be tested for COVID-19.
  • To get tested for free, call your doctor or clinic or go to a public testing site. Click “TESTING” for more testing information.
  • There is no current treatment or vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Do not eat, drink, inject or take anything claiming to treat or protect against COVID-19 unless directed by your doctor. Unproven treatments could be life threatening.
  • Avoid texts and emails asking for personal information to receive stimulus pay.
  • If you have any questions about something you’ve heard or read, please contact your doctor.

Disease Information

What is Coronavirus/ COVID-19?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a novel (new) coronavirus strain that is new to humans. This new virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus/COVID-19?

Click here to read Symptoms of Covid-19

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Runny nose

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 9-1-1 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Are people infectious before symptoms begin?

People with Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be infectious before they have symptoms. We are all at risk because the virus can spread easily through the community. That is why it is important to follow CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of disease by practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering in public and 6 feet social distancing.

How is Coronavirus/COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through the air and through close personal contact. That could be by touching or shaking hands, or touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

To protect you and your family:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing
  • Disinfect objects and surfaces to stay clean.
  • Please stay at home as much as possible. When you do go out, please practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others who do not live with you and follow recommendations to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others like at the grocery store or pharmacy.

Keeping distance from others AND covering your nose and mouth in public is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick but is essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Please note that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Click here to read: how to stop the spread of germs

Should I get tested?

If you are having flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and any other risk factors including age over 60, complex medical conditions, or close contact with someone who is having these symptoms, call your doctor. Your doctor will diagnose you in person or over the phone and provide next steps.

If you are having a medical emergency, seek emergency care.

Harris County Public Health encourages residents to get tested for COVID-19 if you feel you have it or have been in contact with someone who tested positive. We are prioritizing first responders and healthcare professionals, especially those who work with vulnerable populations such as nursing homes, to seek testing as well.

Who should be tested for COVID-19? People who:

  • Have a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) and with respiratory symptoms
  • Had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have other health conditions (diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, pregnancy)
  • Are age 60 and older
  • Are residents of nursing homes (or other senior living facility)
  • Are part of an investigation of a cluster or an outbreak
  • Do not have symptoms but believe they have been exposed to COVID-19

Go to ReadyHarris to find out who is offering tests and the steps for testing.

Is there a vaccine or treatment for this disease?

No. A vaccine is not currently available. Prevention by avoiding exposure to the virus is key. People with severe symptoms or pneumonia from the disease can be treated in a hospital with supportive care.

Where should I get more information?

The most updated information can be found on the following websites of the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (our state health department), Harris County Public Health and Houston Health Department (our local health departments).

 

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and Teens (MIS-C) is a rare condition associated with COVID-19 that has been seen in children and teens.

What is MIS-C?

This is a rare condition that can develop in children exposed to COVID-19. The condition can cause the heart and other organs to become inflamed. Some children with MIS-C can have serious problems and need to receive medical care in the hospital. Most children with MIS-C have gotten better with medical care. However, because children may become seriously ill, it is important that parents know the signs and symptoms so they can get help right away.

If you think your child is sick with MIS-C:

Call your child’s doctor immediately if your child has symptoms of MIS-C:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • A red rash
  • Red eyes
  • Unusual weakness or fatigue
  • Red, cracked lips or red, bumpy tongue
  • Swollen hands and feet

If your child is severely ill:

Go to the nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1 immediately. Emergency warning signs of MIS-C or other concerning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Severe abdominal pain

For more information on Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children/mis-c.html

Should I get tested?

If you are having flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and any other risk factors including age over 60, complex medical conditions, or close contact with someone who is having these symptoms, call your doctor. Your doctor will diagnose you in person or over the phone and provide next steps.

If you are having a medical emergency, seek emergency care.

The Texas Department of State Health Services encourages residents to get tested for COVID-19 if you feel you have it or have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

Who should be tested for COVID-19? People who:

  • Have a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) and with respiratory symptoms
  • Had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Have other health conditions (diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, pregnancy)
  • Are age 60 and older
  • Are residents of nursing homes (or other senior living facility)
  • Are part of an investigation of a cluster or an outbreak
  • If you have attended a large gathering and were unable to practice social distancing
  • Do not have symptoms but believe they have been exposed to COVID-19

Test Collection Map

Use this test collection map to find a testing site in your area. It lists public and private mobile, walk-in, and drive-thru test collection sites around the state.

 

What can I do to prevent infection?

  • Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are obviously sick.
  • The CDC encourages people to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It should fit over your mouth and nose. Please read how to wear, remove, and care for your face covering.
  • Regularly clean surfaces that are dirty or that many people touch. Clean them with soap and water. Then disinfect them with wipes or cleaner. Go here to learn how to disinfect: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
  • Practice social distancing. Avoid large gatherings. If you need to be in public, maintain a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible, and wear your mask.

How can I tell if I have the flu or Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Since infection with the flu or COVID-19 are possible at this time and they can both have symptoms of fever and cough, it is best to call your doctor for advice and seek medical care for worsening symptoms, especially for difficulty breathing. People over 60 years old or with health conditions like asthma, diabetes or any combination of chronic diseases are at increased risk for severe disease and should pay attention to new symptoms.

Which brand or type of hand sanitizer should I use?

Any hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is recommended.

Can spraying alcohol or surface cleaning products all over your body kill the Coronavirus/COVID-19/?

No. Spraying alcohol or surface cleaning products all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying or ingesting such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth).

Is there anything that I can eat or drink to kill the virus?

No, there is nothing you can eat or drink to kill the virus. Please do not ingest bleach or any other cleaning products. These chemicals are poisonous and could make you very sick or may cause death.

Should I wear a face covering?

Yes. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others like at the grocery store or pharmacy. Keeping distance from others AND covering your nose and mouth in public is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick but is essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.

Please note that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Can I be exposed to COVID-19 from the mail or packages

You are not at risk of contracting Coronavirus from mail or packages because it cannot survive for very long on objects.

 

 

What should I do if I have been exposed to a confirmed case or had close contact with someone who is under investigation (suspected case) of Coronavirus/COVID-19?

Pay attention to your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue to monitor until 14 days after the last contact with the person. Monitor your temperature twice a day, and immediately call your doctor if you develop fever, cough or have difficulty breathing. Let your doctor know that you have been exposed to someone who has Coronavirus (COVID-19), and they will provide guidance. If you are having a medical emergency, seek emergency care.

What should I do if I have continued contact with a confirmed Coronavirus/COVID-19 case?

If you have ongoing contact (e.g., live in the same household) with a confirmed case who has recovered you should continue the above measures for 24 days after the individual recovered.

Benefit Information

Benefit Increase – You will get the maximum amount for your household size for April and May. It is being automatically added to your Lone Star card by April 15 for this month’s benefits and by May 15 for next month’s benefits.

Automatic Renewal – Applications will be automatically renewed until further notice. If you have received a recertification letter from Texas Health and Human Services, please disregard. You will receive a new letter at a later date.

Benefit Application – Texas is waiving the interview application. You do not have to go to an office or call about your application or renewal.

SNAP Eligibility Qualifications

  • People who don’t have a lot of money as long as they meet program rules.
  • Most adults age 18 to 49 with no children in the home can get SNAP for only 3 months in a 3-year period. The benefit period might be longer if the person works at least 20 hours a week or is in a job or training program. Some adults might not have to work to get benefits, such as those who have a disability or are pregnant.

To see if you qualify and to apply, visit Your Texas Benefits.

If you need food now, please call 2-1-1 or look online for a list of places where you can go get food.

Medicaid Members:

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Medicaid (STAR) coverage has been extended until further notice.

For STAR recertification periods ending in March, April, May, June, July, and August 2020, coverage has been extended until further notice.

If you have received a recertification letter from Texas Health and Human Services, please disregard.  You will receive a new letter at a later date.

Copayments for CHIP Members have been waived until September 30, 2020. This applies only to office visits.

CHIP or CHIP-P Members:

As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), CHIP and CHIP-P coverage has been extended.

For CHIP certification periods ending in:

  • April 2020, coverage has been extended until July 2020
  • May 2020, coverage has been extended until August 2020

For CHIP Perinatal Members, coverage for the mother will still end on the last day of the month the pregnancy ends. CHIP Perinatal newborns whose mothers received emergency Medicaid coverage for labor and delivery will still be enrolled in Medicaid. CHIP Perinatal coverage for newborns living in families with income above the Medicaid income limit, has been extended as follows:

  • April 2020 has been extended until July 2020
  • May 2020 has been extended until August 2020

 

If you are having trouble picking up your prescription or if you are trying to limit the number of times you go out in public, ask your pharmacy if it offers free delivery. If your pharmacy does not, please call us for assistance in finding one that does.

If you need replacement medication(s) and/or require an early prescription refill, please contact us. You will need your Member ID card to fill/refill your prescription. If you do not have your ID card, you may print a temporary ID card using your My Member Account.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in partnership with Harris Health launched a Coronavirus Call Center for residents without access to healthcare, to provide information about the outbreak.

The Ask My Nurse line will provide help with access for symptoms assessments and referrals to appropriate levels of care, and can answer Coronavirus (COVID-19) questions.

If you do not have access to healthcare call 713.634.1110 from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week.  Nurses are available to provide care in both English and Spanish.

We are here to help!

If you need transportation to a provider or help finding a provider or urgent care clinic, please call us toll-free at 1.888.760.2600.