Dr. Andrea Willis
March 25, 2020
I’ve seen a lot of stories over these past few weeks where people are quoted as saying, “I feel fine. I don’t see any need to stop doing the things I love to do.”
And that prompts me to reiterate some important steps for us to make it through this challenging time — and I am confident that we will. But we must be on the same page regarding best practices for halting the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The irony is not lost on me that, to get through this together, we must keep ourselves apart. As Tennesseans, neighbors and concerned citizens, we’ll overcome this challenge by caring for each other in simple but important ways.
To help protect yourself and others, you should:
- Wash your hands often to avoid the spread of germs. Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds.
- Disinfect frequently used surfaces to further reduce exposure to germs. Doorknobs, phones, laptops, appliances, faucets, etc. should all be cleaned regularly.
- Keep your distance from others to limit contact or airborne transmission, especially if you are at higher risk. Social distancing includes avoiding large gatherings and public places, limiting all travel and movement within your community, and staying at home, allowing few visitors. In general, maintain a six-foot distance from others outside of the home.
- Isolate yourself if sick to keep others safe from infection. Avoid contact from your first symptom until at least 72 hours past your last fever (without medication).
- Seek care appropriately to keep others safe. First and foremost, call your doctor for guidance on what to do to avoid the risk of infecting others (and getting infecting, if you’re seeking care for non-COVID-19 symptoms). Take advantage of telehealth services covered by your insurer.
- Reserve the ER only for severe symptoms to make sure others in life-threatening situations can also get that level of care. In this case, if you experience shortness of breath, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Of course, even while we’re all following these best practices, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty about what this pandemic looks like in the long term — for our health and for our daily lives.
At BlueCross, we’ve made some changes to make it easier for you to take care of yourself and your family. To serve you, we’ve:
- Moved almost all of our 6,700 employees from across the state to work from home to maintain our normal hours of operation
- Made early refills and 90-day supplies available on most prescriptions
- Expanded access to telehealth services to help you get the care you need and limit your risk of infection
- Removed all member costs on FDA-approved COVID-19 tests, including those pending approval
We’re actively monitoring the situation, following the developments and recommendations coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Tennessee Department of Health, and will make more changes as needed. You can visit BCBSTupdates.com for the latest information.
We also want to thank all of the health care workers who are and will continue to be on the front lines of supporting Tennesseans, as well as the unsung everyday heroes — like grocery store workers and delivery drivers — who are helping to keep us nourished and healthy.
Though we still don’t know the exact path this pandemic will take, we’re certain that taking collective actions like practicing social distancing can help to reduce its impact overall and limit your risk of infection.
We’re also certain of our commitments to you — specifically, to help you get the care you need with reduced risk of exposure. We will make it through this together.
Andrea D. Willis, M.D., MPH, FAAP, is senior vice president and chief medical officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.