July 28, 2020

COVID-19: The latest information

Working together with our members, patients, communities, employees, and physicians, we can combat this virus.

The recent increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the nation is a reminder that the virus is still active in our communities and is just as capable of spreading as it was in the spring. If the resurgence of cases worsens, local and state governments may need to reinstate stay-at-home orders. 

“We continue to recommend a cautious and calm approach to resuming activities,” said David Witt, MD, national infectious disease leader at Kaiser Permanente. “It is important to continue healthy habits to protect yourself and others from the continued risk.”

Staying safe as communities reopen

Kaiser Permanente recognizes the importance of connecting with others, especially after such a challenging period of isolation. If you choose to gather with family and friends this summer in areas where stay-at-home orders have been lifted, there are ways to stay safe while socializing — including knowing the symptoms of COVID-19, staying home if you aren’t feeling well, always wearing a mask in public or community settings, maintaining physical distance (at least 6 feet, even with a mask), and maintaining healthy hand hygiene. 

Reopening facilities

Kaiser Permanente continues to closely monitor COVID-19 in all the communities we serve. As we gradually welcome patients back into our facilities for primary and specialty care appointments and procedures, our focus is on the safety of our members, patients, and staff. 

Following guidance from infectious disease and public health authorities, we have implemented physical distancing in lobbies and waiting areas. We strictly adhere to mask requirements and visitor restrictions, and all staff are using appropriate personal protective equipment. These precautions, along with our intensive cleaning and hygiene regimens, create safe environments that promote social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Kaiser Permanente emergency departments remain fully open, available, and safe for those who need to receive care during this pandemic. People in need of care for serious conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, and appendicitis, should not avoid or delay it. 

Building COVID-19 testing capacity

Early on in the pandemic, diagnostic testing was a significant challenge across the country. Lack of testing machines, testing swabs and kits, chemicals, and lab space all hampered our nation’s testing abilities. Since those days, Kaiser Permanente has taken major steps to build up our ability to conduct diagnostic testing — including purchasing additional instruments, working with suppliers to increase the number of test kits available, and expanding internal lab testing facilities. 

As the virus continues to spread, testing demand continues to increase, and the global shortage of testing machines and supplies continues. The companies that manufacture testing machines and those that make testing supplies and equipment are struggling to meet the growing demand.

When necessary, Kaiser Permanente may prioritize testing to help ensure those patients with the highest risk of infection are quickly identified and can isolate to avoid further spread. Testing capacity across our system may vary depending on local conditions. The emergence of hot spots, increased hospitalizations, and availability of testing supplies may impact our testing capacity.

“Our priority continues to be ensuring the health and safety of patients, members, and our employees,” said Dr. Witt. “Our infectious disease experts are working closely with public health authorities to advocate for practices that will help us prevent further increases in COVID-19 cases.” 

Continue to protect yourself and others

If you are a member who is experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, or if you have questions about COVID-19 testing or coverage, please call your doctor or the number on the back of your Kaiser Permanente medical card. Additional guidance can be found on the Coronavirus and COVID-19 page on kp.org.

We can all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, according to Dr. Witt. We continue to encourage everyone to practice the following healthy habits to protect themselves and others:

  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Comply with public health orders. Local and state governments may reinstate stay-at-home orders if there is a resurgence in cases. 
  • If you or anyone in your family develops any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor.
  • Wear a mask when in a community setting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth when in public settings. This public health measure is in addition to social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and other everyday preventive actions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.