COVID-19 Information and Resources
COVID-19 Information and Resources
VNSNY is committed to helping New Yorkers stay safe and healthy. We have specific procedures in place for staff and patients to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
are Now Eligible
COVID-19 remains a significant risk in New York City (NYC) and across the U.S. Vaccination, along with other prevention measures, can help us end the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Vaccines are very effective at preventing COVID-19, a disease which can lead to hospitalization and death and cause long-term health problems. All people with HIV who live in New York State (NYS) are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Click here for more information about how you can get vaccinated.
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A new coronavirus — 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus — that was first detected in China is now spreading worldwide. This virus causes a disease called COVID-19 and can lead to fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There are thousands of confirmed cases in a growing number of countries internationally and the virus is now spreading in the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more about this virus.
VNSNY has been working with the New York State Department of Health and the CDC to make sure our patients, staff, and the community we serve are supported against COVID-19.
Education. All staff have been trained in minimizing the chances of their becoming infected with COVID-19 and transmitting infection to those they care for, as well as in identifying the symptoms, safety, and screening practices.
Communication. VNSNY has activated its Emergency Response System to provide the most up-to-date information to staff.
Collaboration. We are working closely with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in addition to state and federal agencies and medical facilities, to make sure our procedures and guidelines reflect the most current medical information.
See below for important information and helpful resources about COVID-19 for members of SelectHealth.
Coronavirus is a term for a group of viruses. Four types of coronavirus cause the common cold. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people at high risk for developing a more serious case of COVID-19 are older adults and those with chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure. Mild cases may seem like a cold or a lower respiratory illness, such as bronchitis. In those with weakened immune systems, including people with chronic illness and the elderly, the virus can cause severe symptoms. These may include difficulty breathing, and high fever and may lead to pneumonia or other severe infections.
The most important thing is to stay calm. If you develop a fever, cough, or other signs you may have COVID-19 infection, you should immediately contact your doctor and/or local medical center to discuss whether you should get tested for the virus.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, including:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Follow social distancing recommendations, remaining six feet away from all individuals aside from those in your household.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick (stay at least six feet away if possible).
Please note that the CDC is advising individuals to stay home when you are sick, particularly if you are experiencing the symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection as described above: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
The New York City Department of Health recommends wearing a face covering (such as a scarf, dust mask, or bandana) when out in public. Ideally, wear a clean face covering every day. Please conserve medical-grade masks for our health care workers.
During this national public health emergency, Beacon is issuing new policies to serve our members and ensure access to care. SelectHealth and VNSNY CHOICE Total members can visit https://www.beaconhealthoptions.com/coronavirus for the latest updates.
MyStrength is an online emotional wellness program from Beacon Health. Registration for this program is no longer open. But for members who have already registered, this program has been extended through the rest of the year.
Whether or not you are already enrolled in myStrength, all SelectHealth members are invited to use the resources below:
New York State is partnering with Headspace to provide free mindfulness, meditation, and mental health resources to all New Yorkers, including a special NY collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises. Helping you—and your fellow New Yorkers—stay strong and be kind to yourselves, with a New York state of mind. Learn more at: www.headspace.com/ny.
See below for important information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and the CDC will provide information as it becomes available. Please check the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/hiv.html for updates.
The best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid exposure to the virus.
People with HIV should take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
People with HIV should also continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
Staying healthy helps your immune system fight off infection should it occur.
If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine, it is important to continue your treatment and follow the advice of your health care provider. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19. Discuss how to get evaluated and how to avoid potentially exposing others to COVID-19.
Learn more about COVID-19 and what to do if you get sick.
Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 years and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Both increased age and these conditions can increase their risk for more severe illness if people with HIV get COVID-19, especially people with advanced HIV.
Steps that people with HIV can take to prepare in addition to what is recommended for everybody:
Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your HIV medicine and any other medications or medical supplies you need for managing HIV.
Talk to your health care provider and make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza and bacterial pneumonia because these preventable diseases disproportionally affect people with HIV.
Establish a plan for clinical care if you have to stay at home for a couple of weeks. Try to establish a telemedicine link through your HIV care provider’s online portal. If telemedicine is not available to you, make sure you can communicate with your provider by phone or text.
Make sure you can maintain a social network remotely, such as online, by phone, or by video chat. This can help you stay socially connected and mentally healthy, which is especially important for people with HIV.
People with HIV can sometimes be more likely than others to need extra help, from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, and others. If you become sick, make sure you stay in touch by phone or email with people who can help you.
Some types of HIV medicine (in particular, lopinavir/ritonavir) are being evaluated in clinical trials to treat COVID-19. While there is some evidence that this type of HIV medicine might help treat infections with SARS and MERS (two other coronaviruses related to the virus that causes COVID-19), there are no data available yet from clinical trials that these drugs help people with COVID-19.
People with HIV should not switch their HIV medicine in an attempt to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Drug shortages or anticipated problems with HIV medicine have not been identified.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is closely monitoring the drug supply chain as the COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to disrupt the supply of medical and pharmaceutical products in the United States.
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) has also remained in contact with the major manufacturers of HIV medicine as many of these products rely on ingredients produced in China.
As of March 10, 2020, there were no reports of manufacturing concerns or supply shortages.
Learn more about the FDA’s response to COVID-19.
Minimizing stigma and misinformation about COVID-19 is very important. People with HIV have lived experience in dealing with stigma and can be allies in preventing COVID-19 stigma. Learn how you can reduce stigma and help prevent the spread of rumors about COVID-19.
This is a rapidly changing situation. For updates, please see these resource pages from the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New York State has also established a hotline for questions and information: 1-888-364-3065.