Health and Wellness

Coronavirus Disease 2019

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ about COVID-19 variants will be updated as experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) share more information. Check the CDC’s COVID-19 webpage often for updates.

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
  • Visiting  
  • 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 reduce your risk of getting COVID-19, is a safer way to build protection and is an important tool to help stop the pandemic

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


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.  

Please talk to your PCP if you are experiencing any other severe or concerning symptoms.

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.

Please talk with your PCP if you are experiencing any other severe or concerning symptoms. If you have or think you may have COVID-19, take steps to help prevent spreading it to others.  

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

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

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:

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people
  • 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 daily
  • 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 primary care provider, 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?

Information about COVID-19 testing for Orange County residents can be found 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: 1-855-785-2584 (TTY 1-714-468-1063)

Treatment for COVID-19

Are there drugs to treat COVID-19?

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people who are more likely to get very sick:

  • Antiviral treatments target specific parts of the virus to stop it from multiplying in the body, helping to prevent severe illness and death
  • Monoclonal antibodies help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus

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: 1-855-785-2584 (TTY 711)
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