What Decatur, IL Seniors Need to Know About the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads across the United States, we are all adjusting to life without sit-in restaurants, paper goods shortages, and being cooped up at home.
Here’s what our Decatur, IL community needs to know about the coronavirus disease.
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) In Decatur, IL
As of April 6, 2020, there are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Macon County, Illinois. Sixty-nine COVID-19 tests have been completed. We now know that COVID-19 is in our community.
Because testing is not widely available to the general public, it is imperative that community members, whether feeling ill or well, implement social distancing best practices to limit the spread and contraction of COVID-19. This means staying home and away from as many people as possible as often as possible.
Total confirmed cases in the United States as of April 6, 2020 are 304,826 with 7,616 total deaths. Illinois has 7,695 total reported cases.
Testing for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) In Decatur, IL
Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH) is offering drive-thru COVID-19 screenings. Screening, evaluation, and testing will be performed while the patient remains in their vehicle. Note that the actual testing must be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In order for COVID-19 testing to be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health, you must meet the following criteria:
- residential congregate living with clusters (two or more) of possible or confirmed COVID-19 cases in a vulnerable population. This may include residents or staff who are part of a cluster of two or more possible or confirmed cases in a residential setting that serves more vulnerable populations such as an assisted living facility, group home, homeless shelter or correctional settings.
- hospitalized patients with unexplained pneumonia.
Patients who do not meet any of the above criteria for COVID-19 testing by IDPH laboratories should be managed as clinically indicated and providers may determine to proceed with testing at a commercial or hospital laboratory.
The drive-thru screenings are held at the Respiratory Clinic, located at DMH Express Care East. If you have symptoms such as a cough, chest congestion, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or fever, sign up for drive-thru screening by calling 217-876-1200.
The drive-thru screening is open 7 days per week, 8am-6pm.
HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital is screening ER patients for COVID-19 symptoms in a triage area near the ER entrance (Herald&Review).
Virtual Care In Decatur, IL
DMH says they are offering free Virtual Care to everyone during the COVID-19 outbreak.
These online doctor visits are a great way to get medical care without leaving your home. Virtual Care is meant for non-emergency illnesses, and it’s a great way get care while also protecting your health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DMH also said they can help evaluate your symptoms via virtual care if you believe you might have coronavirus.
To get started, download the MemorialNow virtual care app.
Medicare Coverage for Coronavirus
If you get tested for COVID-19, Medicare will cover the lab test. You will pay no out-of-pocket costs.
Inpatient hospital stays
Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
Note that you still have the $1,408 deductible for hospital stays unless you have a Medicare Supplement plan that covers it.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you have access to the same benefits outlined above. Medicare allows MA plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing.
While there’s currently no vaccine for COVID-19, all Medicare Part D plans will cover it if one becomes available.
For the time being, Medicare has expanded its coverage of telehealth services. You can receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings.
This allows you to get care from home without having to go to your doctor’s office or hospital, which could put you at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Medicare pays for virtual check-ins, or brief services with your established physician. Virtual check-ins can be used for the treatment for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from anywhere, including places of residence like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities (more details on that here).
- Medicare pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals
- If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners
Coronavirus Disease Symptoms and Precautions
While much about COVID-19 is still unknown, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and even death. Older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are at the higher risk of severe illness. Eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older (CDC).
Symptoms typically last 2-14 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and fever.
The CDC instructs you to get medical attention immediately if you have any of these severe symptoms:
- Difficult breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Also, if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, call your healthcare provider for advice.
Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
We can all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The CDC recommends following basic practices to stop the spread of germs:
- Avoid close contact (6 feet) with people who are sick
- Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touches objects and surfaces
- Stay home when you’re sick, except to get medical care
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
While washing your hands often is the gold standard for stopping the spread of the virus, hand sanitizer is a great option when you can’t get to a sink.
However, be sure to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer which is the most effective way to kill many types of bacteria and viruses (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2020). Alcohol solutions containing 60% to 95% alcohol are most effective. Alcohol-free hand sanitizers are less effective at reducing microbes.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s no secret that this entire pandemic is stressful. Watching the news can be overwhelming and upsetting, so be sure to take care of yourself.
Take breaks from the news and social media. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling. If stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, call your healthcare provider (CDC).
COVID-19 Update at the Sams/Hockaday & Associates Office
Finally, the age group we serve, primarily individuals 65 and older, is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and our local office is taking every precaution to protect health and safety.
First and foremost, we have instructed all agents and supporting staff to stay home if they aren't feeling well or have any signs of illness. We have also ramped up our cleaning and sanitizing procedures in the office, and our regular cleaning service has even done an additional "sanitization clean."
We know that the age group we serve is at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19, which is why we want you to take every precaution to ensure your safety. If you have an in-office appointment and would rather stay home, please let us know.
Our agents have largely shifted to doing over-the-phone appointments. Thanks to technology, we are able to complete any policy updates or applications without being face-to-face. While we will definitely miss seeing many of our clients face-to-face during this time, we look forward to serving you remotely upon request.
We will continue to monitor the situation as we learn and see what steps should be taken to make our customers, employees, and agents safe in this turbulent time.
Your Guide to Medicare Parts A & B
Understanding your Medicare options is important, because making a decision without the facts can cost you money. See what Medicare, Medigap, and you – pay for.Get It Now