Health and Wellness

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The FAQ about COVID-19 variants is based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the most up-to-date information, check the CDC’s COVID-19 webpage.  

COVID-19 Variants

What are variants?

Viruses change through mutation often. When a virus has one or more mutations it is called a variant. New variants are expected to occur and become more diverse. Sometimes new variants show up and go away. Other times, they last for longer periods of time.

Does COVID-19 have variants?

COVID-19 has some variants that allow it to spread more easily. Experts monitor the spread of all COVID-19 variants. To learn more about the COVID-19 variants being tracked, visit the CDC’s About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19 webpage.

About COVID-19

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that have the virus in them. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land in their eyes, nose or mouth. They can also land on surfaces and be spread through touch.

Where can you get more details on COVID-19?

The CDC has more details on how COVID-19 spreads.  

More facts about COVID-19 can be found at:
CDC website:  

Orange County Health Care Agency website:  

COVID-19 Vaccine

How can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are a CalOptima Health member, you can schedule a vaccination by:

  • Calling your health network, primary care provider (PCP) or local pharmacy
  • Going to  or calling 1-833-422-4255 to book an appointment or find a walk-in site

What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Visit the CDC for more details about the benefits.  

The COVID-19 vaccine can lower your risk of getting COVID-19 and is a safe way to build protection.

More about the COVID-19 vaccine:

Orange County Health Care Agency for Local COVID-19 Vaccine Information  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for National COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Signs and Symptoms

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The CDC says COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Symptoms may appear between 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms, may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update its list as it learns more about COVID-19. Check the CDC’s website for the full list of COVID-19 symptoms.  

Take these next steps if you are sick or test positive.

When do I need to seek medical attention?

If you have any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, call 911 for emergency medical care right away:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • New confusion
  • Cannot wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nailbeds (depending on skin tone)

Tell the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have had COVID-19.

This list does not include all possible symptoms.

Difference Between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

Flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that spread easily, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is an infection caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Flu is an infection caused by the flu virus (influenza viruses). Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.

Learn more about how flu and COVID-19 compare.  

To learn more about flu, visit Influenza (Flu).  

To learn more about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

If You Are Sick or Test Positive for COVID-19

What are the steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others?

You should be seen by your doctor or in urgent care within 24 hours of a positive COVID-19 test result or symptoms. Don’t delay. If treatment is needed, it must be started within the first few days of symptoms to be effective.

If you need help finding an urgent care location, contact our Customer Service department or use the online search links below for your plan.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect others in your home and community:

  • Get treatment as soon as you have symptoms or a positive test result
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people
  • Tell people you had recent contact with that they may have been exposed
  • Monitor your symptoms
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all high-touch surfaces often
  • Take steps to improve ventilation (air flow) at home

For more details, visit If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone from the CDC.

Find out when you can safely end home isolation.  

Protect Yourself

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

Take these steps to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Make sure you and any family members who are ages 6 months and older get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccines are no cost to CalOptima Health members. You can check with your PCP, local pharmacy or sign up at 
  • You can also visit 
  • Improve ventilation (air flow) in your home.
  • Get tested right away if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Stay home if think you might have COVID-19, or if you test positive.

Take other actions to protect yourself, as needed:

Get more details from the CDC.  

Should I wear a face mask?

Wearing a mask can help protect yourself and others:

  • Masking is a critical public health tool, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask
  • Wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you can wear consistently
  • Wearing a high-quality mask along with vaccination, self-testing and physical distancing helps protect you and others by lowering the chance of spreading COVID-19

The CDC offers a guide to masks.  

How to Get Tested

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

Orange County residents can find information about COVID-19 testing at

You can call your PCP or health network to ask for testing, or find a testing site and schedule an appointment online at  

Schedule an appointment by visiting or calling 1-800-564-8448. You may also call your PCP to ask for testing.

Do I have to pay to get screened, tested and receive treatment for COVID-19?

CalOptima Health has waived all costs for our members to get screened, tested and receive medically necessary treatment for COVID-19. If you are asked to pay, please call us at:

  • Medi-Cal: 1-888-587-8088 (TTY 711)
  • OneCare (HMO D-SNP): 1-877-412-2734 (TTY 711)
  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly: 1-844-999-PACE (7223) (TTY 1-714-468-1063)

Treatment for COVID-19

How do I get treatment for COVID-19?

You should have an appointment with your PCP or an urgent care provider within the first 24 hours of having COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result to quickly find out if you need treatment. Early treatment is known to lower the risk of serious illness and prevent hospitalization. People who are more likely to get very sick include those over 65, the unvaccinated or those with medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are 12 years old or older, free treatment may help you recover faster and avoid serious illness. Contact your PCP or pharmacy, go to a test to treat location, visit California’s Free Virtual COVID-19 Visit webpage or call the CalOptima Health Nurse Advice Line toll-free at 1-844-447-8441 (TTY 1-844-514-3774), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Contact Your PCP about getting treatment. Call our Customer Service department, your health network or visit the Member Portal if you do not have your PCP’s contact information or for help with making an appointment.
  • Call 1-888-897-1244 or go to California’s Free Virtual COVID-19 Visit page to make a phone or video appointment with a provider who can prescribe COVID-19 medicines if appropriate. Medicines may be mailed to you or picked up at a pharmacy. They can also help with calling the pharmacy if you are asked to pay.
  • At Test to Treat locations , you will be tested for COVID-19. If you test positive and treatment is appropriate, you may receive a prescription medicine.

Are there drugs to treat COVID-19?

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized certain medicines to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick. Visit the CDC for more information about COVID-19 Treatment and Medications

Health Advice

Who can I call for health advice?

If you need health advice, first call your PCP or your health network. If you cannot reach your PCP, you can talk to a nurse by phone to answer your COVID-19 questions.

Call the CalOptima Health Nurse Advice Line toll-free at 1-844-447-8441 (TTY 1-844-514-3774) to help you. The Nurse Advice Line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost to CalOptima Health members.

Contact Us

How can I contact CalOptima Health?

CalOptima Health Customer Service is ready to respond to your needs. Please call us at these toll-free phone numbers:

  • Medi-Cal: 1-888-587-8088 (TTY 711)
  • OneCare (HMO D-SNP): 1-877-412-2734 (TTY 711)
  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly: 1-844-999-PACE (7223) (TTY 1-714-468-1063)
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