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California's Top Public Health Doctor:
COVID-19 Treatments are Free and Widely Available, but Underutilized

December 13, 2022
NR22-171
Contact: CDPHpress@cdph.ca.gov

 SACRAMENTO – As California faces rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to multiple respiratory viruses, the state's top public health doctor reminds providers and patients that seeking and receiving COVID-19 treatment should be the new normal for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. Treatments help reduce the severity of COVID-19 complications, including hospitalization and death. While vaccines and boosters remain the frontline of defense against COVID-19, all Californians who test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms should seek evaluation for COVID-19 treatments, which are widely available and free statewide.

"Many of our hospitals across the state are reaching capacity and one of the ways we can reduce admissions is by treating individuals who have COVID-19," said State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. "Unlike previous years, people now have safe and effective treatment options that can prevent serious disease, reduce hospitalization, and may also lower the risk of long COVID-19 symptoms. Treatments provide the biggest benefits to people who are unvaccinated, but also provide benefits to people who are vaccinated or who recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection. However, COVID-19 treatments are underutilized, particularly among communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. As soon as someone has new symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever, they should immediately test for COVID-19 and seek treatment if they are positive."

It's important for people who test positive for COVID-19 to immediately contact a health care provider since  treatments must start within the first five to seven days after symptoms begin. Most treatments are pills that can be taken at home, such as Paxlovid, which can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 50% and 88%.

The vast majority of American adults are eligible for COVID-19 treatments, which are recommended for anyone 12 years old and older who has COVID-19 symptoms, has tested positive, and may be at higher risk for worse illness. There is a long list of conditions that may qualify someone for treatments. Some include:

  • Being 50 years of age and older, regardless of any other conditions
  • Being unvaccinated
  • Having common conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking (past or present), asthma, mental health conditions like depression

 There are three easy ways to get treatments, regardless of health insurance or citizenship status.

Three Ways to Get Treatment:

  1. If you have insurance, contact your doctor, urgent care center or visit a Test-to-Treat location. Some pharmacies also have COVID treatments.
  2. If you don't have insurance or cannot reach a provider within 24 hours, visit Sesame or call 833-686-5051 to make a free phone or video appointment.
  3. If you need help finding treatment, call the COVID-19 hotline 833-422-4255.

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