Treatment for COVID-19
As soon as you have new symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever, you should immediately test for COVID-19 and ask a doctor about treatment if you are positive.
- We have effective tools to take good care of ourselves if we get COVID-19.
- COVID-19 treatments are safe, free, widely available, and highly effective at preventing COVID-19 illness from becoming serious. They can stop the virus from multiplying in your body, help you test negative sooner, and may reduce the risk of developing long COVID symptoms.
○ Scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 treatments work to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by up to 50-88% (cut the risk in half or more)
○ Early evidence also suggests they may lower the risk of developing long COVID symptoms.
○ Treatments like the Paxlovid pill can also prevent the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, which can help you test negative sooner.
- They’re free, regardless of whether you have insurance or your citizenship status
- They are recommended for most adults and some teens.
- Treatments must be taken within 5-7 days of when symptoms begin to be effective/work well. Seek treatment while your symptoms are still mild, do not wait for your symptoms to get worse.
- So if you start feeling a runny nose, cough, or generally not like yourself, act fast and take a COVID test. And if you test positive, seek treatment right away.
Remember – if you test and treat, you can beat COVID!
COVID-19 Treatments Questions & Answers
WHAT are COVID-19 treatments?
- Medications that can stop COVID-19 illness from getting serious.
- They are free, widely available, and highly effective. Some can be taken at-home by pill and others are given by IV.
WHY should I take a COVID-19 treatment?
- COVID-19 medications are effective for stopping COVID-19 illness from getting serious. Scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 treatments can prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by up to 50-88% (they can cut the risk in half or more)
- Early evidence also suggests they may lower the risk of developing long COVID symptoms.
- Treatments like the Paxlovid pill can also prevent the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, which can help you test negative sooner.
WHEN should I take a COVID-19 treatment?
- Treatments must be taken within 5-7 days of when symptoms begin. So if you start to feel sick, act fast to get a COVID-19 test and seek free treatment.
- Get treatment while your illness is mild – don’t wait until your illness gets worse
Are treatments FREE?
- Yes! The pill medications are free (the IV medications might have a charge). You do not need to have insurance or be a US citizen. Call the State COVID-19 Hotline if you were incorrectly charged for COVID-19 pills at 833-422-4255.
WHO should take COVID-19 treatment?
Everyone 12 years and older who tests positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms should seek evaluation for COVID-19 treatments.
- COVID-19 treatment is recommended for the majority of adults and anyone 12 years and older with certain experiences and conditions. Most adults and some teens are eligible. If you meet the following criteria, it is recommended that you taker COVID-19 treatment:
- Tested positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, and
- 50+ years of age, unvaccinated, or anyone 12 years or older with conditions or characteristics that put you at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness (including obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, asthma, diabetes, mental health conditions like depression, being of a racial/ethnic minority, and more).
WHERE do I get COVID-19 treatments?
- You have multiple options. You do not need to have insurance or U.S. citizenship.
- Call your doctor or urgent care center. If you have insurance, you can call the number on your insurance card to get help with making an appointment.
- Find a Test-to-Treat location, which are sites that offer COVID testing and treatment services, near you. To find a site, call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255.
- Make a free phone or video appointment through California’s free telehealth provider and talk to a health care provider the same or next day. Call 833-686-5051 or go to com/covidca.
- Some pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, have pharmacists that may be able to give you a prescription for treatment. Call your pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
Call the statewide COVID-19 hotline for questions and help with finding free COVID treatment, at 833-422-4255.
HOW do treatments work?
- Currently authorized treatments are antiviral treatments, which stop the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, which can stop COVID-19 illness from becoming serious and also help you to test negative sooner. These include pills called Paxlovid and Molnupiravir that can be taken at-home. There is also Remdesivir, which is usually given by a health care provider by IV.
- A health care provider can tell you what is right for you.
What are the SIDE EFFECTS?
- Most people have no side effects. The most common side effects for Paxlovid, the most commonly prescribed COVID-19 medication, are mild, such as nausea or a bitter taste.
What is REBOUND?
- A return of mild symptoms and a new positive test a few days after testing negative. This can happen with COVID-19 regardless of if you take treatment.
- Most people do not have rebound with treatment – approximately less than 10% of people or less experience rebound symptoms.
- Rebound symptoms are mild.
- Rebound is NOT treatment failure as the medications still work to prevent severe illness. The benefits of treatment outweigh the risks of rebound.
For more information on COVID-19 care and treatment, visit covid19.ca.gov/treatment or call the statewide COVID hotline at (833)-422-4255.
Also see the CDPH What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID-19 webpage