August 10, 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 practicing healthy hand hygiene.

Reopening facilities

Kaiser Permanente is gradually opening temporarily closed facilities and services, and safely increasing in-person procedures and routine care while protecting our members, patients, and staff. We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 in all the communities we serve. Some areas are opening more quickly than others, depending on the local rates of infection and hospitalizations.

Access to routine and specialty care remains available to all members via a number of virtual care options, including video and phone visits, e-visits, and chat.

As always, 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 more and more states are addressing surges and the related demands of testing, national testing supplies are once again stretched thin. Despite this challenge, Kaiser Permanente is continuing to grow our testing capacity and testing in our own clinical labs, including a new facility that can process up to 10,000 tests per day.

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, such as the emergence of hot spots, increased hospitalizations, and the availability of testing supplies.

“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.