Masks are sold out on Amazon, Zoom stock is rising, and people are applying hand sanitizer every time they hear mention of COVID-19. Do your members know how to stay healthy with the Coronavirus knocking on their door? Do they have the right information? Do they know the best steps to take to protect themselves? With all of these questions swirling around, how can you help?

Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Nancy Messonnier, a CDC director, said in a press briefing last week.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

Nancy Messonnier

CDC Director

It’s time to take steps to make sure that your members know there are things they can do to stay healthy. Icario has a Coronavirus and Flu Prevention Program available for health plans to help members when they need it most—when people are getting scared and are confused about what to do. Icario’s program drives members to get a flu shot, informs them where they can get them, and gives them tips from the CDC to keep them safe.

We recommend health plans take a proactive approach by leveraging communications that combine messages of education, prevention, and urgency.

Icario can help drive your members to take the best possible actions to avoid the Coronavirus. Right now, here’s how you can best help your members:

1—Send Educational Messages

As the Coronavirus spreads and anxieties rise, health plan members are looking to healthcare professionals for guidance on the next best step to take. The CDC has a list of recommendations that you should communicate to members, including:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
    • The CDC currently recommends wiping your phone down once a day—similar viruses to COVID-19 are known to live up to 4 days on glass surfaces, making your phone the perfect campground for disease
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission
  • And lastly, avoid unnecessary contact with people, especially if you feel ill—stay home if you’re sick

The key approach is to educate people on how to properly wash their hands. This is always important, but especially now. It’s recommended that you wash your hands for 20 seconds on a regular basis. Note that you don’t need to use antibacterial soap—the coronavirus is a virus, not a bacterium.

For full details regarding the most effective hand washing techniques, refer to the CDC’s national hand washing campaign—Clean Hands Save Lives.

2—Drive Members to Get a Flu Shot

If people are worried about COVID-19, but haven’t gotten a seasonal vaccination for the flu—now is the time. While the flu shot won’t prevent someone from becoming infected with the Coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy and make room for people who may become infected with COVID-19 and need care.

The thought here is, if people get their flu shot now, the healthcare system won’t get clogged up with flu patients at the same time as the Coronavirus health crisis. It’s important to use our resources and hospital beds wisely if we’re going to be facing a major outbreak. Protecting people from other preventable illnesses is the smart first step, so we recommend leveraging a flu program to motivate people to get vaccinated now.

For more information on the critical importance of taking preventive health actions and how to engage members more effectively, listen to RadioRev episode 5—Preventive Screenings.

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3—Don’t Delay—Now is the Time to Take Action

Given the undeniable likelihood that the Coronavirus will continue to spread throughout the United States and infect more people, taking action now is critical. Engaging members to ensure they are taking proper precautions, particularly among the Medicare Advantage population and those with pre-existing conditions, is more important than ever as those populations are proving to be the most at risk.

While about 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild, the virus is proving to be much more fatal in people over the age of 50. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died.

“If you look at the death rate it is disproportionately higher among the elderly and particularly those who have underlying conditions.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

New information emerges about the Coronavirus every hour—it can be hard to keep up. As a general rule, always ensure your sources are reputable and that they notate trusted references. This will help avoid disinformation and unnecessary panic.

As the Coronavirus spreads and new cases are identified in the United States and global instances of COVID-19 continue to rise, this dashboard from John Hopkins CSSE has helped us stay on top of the latest developments.

For more information regarding the Medicare Advantage population and COVID-19, CMS has released guidance for MA, Part D, ensuring beneficiaries affected by the novel coronavirus get the health care services they need.

Like many health plans in America, Icario’s mission is to make the world a healthier place, one person at a time. We’re ready to help keep your members safe from COVID-19 with our Coronavirus and Flu Prevention Program which drives people to get a flu shot, informs them where they can get vaccinated, and gives your members tips to keep them safe from the Coronavirus.