Elderplan/HomeFirst COVID-19 Update

Dear Elderplan/HomeFirst Member,

We’d like to take a moment to address the frightening new strain of COVID now circulating in the U.S. and the even greater need and rationale for being vaccinated.

While the number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in New York have all been decreasing, and the positivity rate (percentage of people who get tested for COVID-19 and are found to have the disease) is now less than 1%, there are still some very troubling warning signs. Specifically, the new Delta variant of the coronavirus could present significant challenges unless we continue to take the necessary actions – most importantly, getting vaccinated.  

Some important points:

  • The new Delta variant of COVID is at least 50% more transmissible than the prior strains
  • This variant is rapidly spreading through much of the world. Just last week, areas of Australia and several other countries were locked down to try to stop the spread
  • The Delta variant has already been detected in all 50 states. In some states, more than 50% of new COVID cases are caused by this rapidly spreading variant
  • Vaccinated people appear to be protected from severe illness and death due to the Delta variant, underscoring the need to be vaccinated
  • Despite the good news about severe illness, the number of vaccinated people who become infected with milder illness – and are therefore capable of spreading the illness to others – is expected to increase. This suggests the need to be vigilant, and consider masking and distancing when indoors, especially in crowded areas
  • Unvaccinated people are at the greatest risk of severe illness, hospitalization and dying. In fact, almost all hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are now happening among those who are unvaccinated.
  • The complications associated with vaccination are minimal and are far outweighed by the risk of severe illness presented by the Delta variant

What should be your key take-aways?  First, get vaccinated now if you haven’t already. More than 170 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated and the number of complications has been tiny. Second, vaccination can protect you from serious illness and death due to the Delta variant. Vaccination works.

David Wagner
President
MJHS Health Plans

Dear Elderplan/HomeFirst Member,

Your team at Elderplan/HomeFirst would like to provide you with some important information about COVID-19, the new Coronavirus, and how you can help protect yourself.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COVID-19

COVID-19 is a rapidly spreading respiratory illness that is now in more than 100 countries, including the United States. During the past few weeks, the virus has spread to New York State with most cases so far in New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk county. COVID-19 can take 2-14 days to appear after exposure. Experts expect the number of cases will increase substantially.

Most people who get the virus will feel like they have a bad cold or flu. A smaller group may experience severe illness and require hospitalization. The frail, elderly and residents of nursing homes, who are often already at-risk, have a greater chance of getting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands)
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Notify your primary physician (PCP) immediately if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, nasal or chest congestion, shortness of breath, vomiting or diarrhea
  • If you believe you’ve been in contact with someone who has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, or have traveled internationally or to Washington State during the past 14 days, AND have any of the above symptoms, contact your PCP immediately
  • If you think you might have COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has the virus:
    • BEFORE GOING to your doctor or urgent care center CALL AHEAD so they can make sure proper safety measures are in place
    • Stay home unless you must go to a medical appointment
  • Get the flu shot—it’s not too late. While the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it will help prevent the flu which in turn may reduce risk of serious complications should you get COVID-19
  • Do not go to travel ban countries. Since this list may grow, we suggest avoiding all international travel at this time
  • Avoid large gatherings

Elderplan/HomeFirst is committed to keeping our members informed about COVID-19 as well as helping them remain as safe as possible during the outbreak. Should you have any questions, or if you are having any problems arranging for medical care, please contact member services at 1-800-353-3765 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., 7 days a week. If you are hearing impaired, please call 711 for TTY/TDD.

Sincerely,

David Wagner
President
MJHS Health Plans

DOH Approved 03/09/2020