WA expands telehealth options to improve access to COVID treatment

Washington residents who test positive for the coronavirus can now get a free telehealth appointment for a treatment consultation, regardless of their insurance coverage.

Late last week, the state health department launched the new telehealth option as an extension of the federal government’s initiative to increase access to COVID-19 treatments.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, antiviral pills authorized to treat COVID-19 — Pfizer’s paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir — are available by prescription only and must be started within five days of symptom onset.

According to the Department of Health, telehealth appointments via phone or video calls to discuss COVID treatments were previously available only to insured patients who receive care through a provider. The new program makes these trips available to everyone, regardless of insurance status, at no out-of-pocket costs.

“At DOH, we value equity and innovation, and we have embraced those values ​​throughout our COVID-19 response,” Health Secretary, Dr. Umair Shah said in a news release. “Ensuring we can equitably engage communities with medical science is critical so that we can continue our mission of reducing unnecessary deaths from this disease.”

Across the state, COVID cases have remained relatively flat over the past few months, with 213 new cases per 100,00 people reported from July 17 to July 23. hospitalized in the same time period and can be stable at a rate of about seven days. 10 per 100,000. The death toll has increased with 80 COVID deaths recorded from June 23 to June 29, the most recent complete data.

In Cowlitz County, COVID cases appear to be gradually declining or flattening, from July 17 to July 23 at about 141 per 100,000. County and across the state, the number of reported cases is one low because not everyone tests or reports at home. health department wise exam result

According to Cowlitz County Health and Human Services, hospitalizations rise and fall week by week, but total admissions per month have gradually increased. The most recent weekly hospitalization rate is 12.7 per 100,000, above the state average.

Last month, the county reported an increase in COVID deaths, up from two in June, with 13 so far in July, according to the county health department.

Communications manager Stephanie Donahue said county health workers plan to talk locally about the new free option through the department’s website, social media pages and other outreach efforts.

“We are pleased to see new options for people to access COVID-19 treatments and hope the state’s announcement last week helps to broaden awareness,” she said. “We want people to know that COVID-19 treatments are potentially life-saving, especially for those at high risk of serious illness.”

Not all people who test positive for COVID-19 need treatment. According to the U.S. Department of Health, oral antivirals are important for people who are at high risk of hospitalization, including people age 65 and older, who are pregnant or obese, or have chronic medical conditions, as well as: Also includes people taking immunosuppressant treatment.

People can set up telehealth appointments through the state’s new program on the health department’s telehealth webpage bit.ly/3cYUIEb Or by calling the COVID Call Center at 1-800-525-0127 and pressing #. The call center can set up appointments on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays and state holidays, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. Telehealth appointments are available through translation services in 240 languages ​​and can be arranged through the call center.

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