Austin Regional Clinic

Austin Regional Clinic

Austin Regional Clinic

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

Last Updated 7/7/2020

24/7 COVID-19 Hotline: 866-453-4525

Austin Regional Clinic remains updated about COVID-19 and continues to update this page. 

Remember ARC offers 24/7 connected care with Same-Day appointments in the day time, night time, weekends, and holidays as well as 24/7 phone nurses. Request a Same-Day visit at ARCappointments.com or call your clinic and press "1" for an appointment.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Diagnosing & testing

      • Where can I get pre-op COVID-19 testing?

        ARC offers rapid pre-op COVID-19 testing at our drive-up sites for new and established ARC patients. 

      • Is there a number I can call with questions?

        The ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline is open 24/7 at 866-453-4525. The hotline provides advice on self-care and treatment recommendations.

        You always have the option of scheduling an appointment with us if needed or you can speak with a nurse if you have questions.

      • How do I know if I need a viral test or anitbody test?

        A viral test is a nasal swab and tells you if you have a current infection. An anitbody test is a blood test and can tell you if had a past infection. Both tests are offered at ARC to new and established patients. We can also set up business accounts for employers who would like to pay for testing for their employees.

      • Can anybody get tested for COVID-19?

        New and established patients can be tested for COVID-19 at ARC. All patients must have an in-clinic or telemedicine visit with a doctor to determine what test is needed and if more care besides testing is needed. Call the hotline at 866-453-4525 to schedule, or book an appointment directly on MyChartARC.com - choose a same-day Illness & Injury visit or a New or Ongoing Problem visit for a future visit.

        Read more about Coronavirus testing at ARC

      • Where do you offer drive-up testing?

        ARC conducts COVID-19 drive-up testing at the locations listed below.

        Drive-up COVID-19 Testing Locations - North to South

         

        Mon-Fri
        8:00am - 5:00pm
        Mon-Fri
        5:00pm - 7:00pm
        Sat-Sun
        8:00am - 5:00pm
        ARC Cedar Park    
        ARC Round Rock 
        ARC Far West 
        ARC South 1st     
        ARC Southwest  
        ARC Kyle Plum Creek    

        Read more about drive-up testing at ARC

      • How does drive-up testing work?

        All patients must first have a visit with an ARC doctor. Call the hotline at 866-453-4525 to schedule, or book a telemedicine appointment directly on MyChartARC.com - choose a same-day Illness & Injury visit or a New or Ongoing Problem visit for a future visit. After your visit, your physician will direct you to the nearest ARC drive-thru testing site. An ARC clinician will screen you at the drive-up testing site to ensure you are not experiencing breathing difficulties. If you do not require immediate medical attention, a nasal swab will be obtained and sent to the lab for COVID-19 testing.

        Read more about drive-up testing

      • Can I get tested without an appointment with a doctor?

        No. All patients must first have a visit with an ARC doctor. Call the hotline at 866-453-4525 to schedule, or avoid a potential long hold time and book a telemedicine appointment directly on MyChartARC.com - choose a same-day Illness & Injury visit or a New or Ongoing Problem visit for a future visit. After the visit, patients are directed to the nearest drive-up testing tent.

        Read more about drive-up testing

      • How long does it take to get the results?

        Currently, it takes 5-10 days to receive results from any of the labs. During periods of lighter demand the turnaround time for labs is 3-5 days. All negative results appear immediately in ARC MyChart.

      • Will I see my results in ARC MyChart?

        Yes. Negative results appear immediately in ARC MyChart. Postivie results appear after your ARC care team calls you with your result and explains treatment.

      • Can I do a telemedicine visit with my ARC doctor?

        Most ARC primary and specialty care doctors offer telemedicine visits if appropriate. A telemedicine visit may be carried out by video or phone call. You can request a telemedicine visit at the time you book your appointment. In some cases, if an in-person office visit is booked, your doctor may decide to see you via telemedicine. If that happens your healthcare team will contact you in advance. Many of our patients appreciate being able to take care of their medication refills and COVID-19 evaluations without leaving their homes. You can book many telemedicine visits on ARC MyChart.

      • What if I test negative for COVID-19 and still have symptoms?

        If your COVID-19 test result is negative but you have symptoms related to the illness, you may still have the virus in your system and should continue to protect yourself and minimize spread.

        Please remain in home quarantine no less than 10 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications at 24 hours AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath. Practice strict home hygiene to avoid spread in your household.

        Treat your symptoms with over the counter medications and call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have emergency warning signs such as persistent and worsening shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or confusion. Our nurses and doctors can determine if we can care for you in our clinic or if you need to go to the ER.

      • Should I do a blood type test?

        There was a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that suggests that blood type can impact the risk of developing severe COVID-19. However, the study is still inconclusive and your blood type will not change recommended preventive or treatment measures. The presence or absence of underlying health problems, like chronic heart and lung disease, has much more of an impact than the possible association with blood type.

        It is not currently recommended that you do blood type testing to determine COVID-19 risk and there are contradictory findings at other institutions. A blood type test is also not covered by most health plans. If you would like to check your blood type and prefer not to spend the out-of-pocket lab fees, we recommend donating blood if you meet the requirements. When you donate blood, you are informed of your blood type and also help the community blood supply.

 

Antibody testing

    • What is an antibody test?

      An antibody test might tell you if you had a past COVID-19 infection. It is most accurate if you get the test at least 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms. It is a blood test and results can take 1-5 days depending on demand.

    • Can I get an antibody test at ARC?

      Yes. ARC offers antibody testing for individuals and businesses. If you have a lab order from an ARC physician, you can make an appointment at any ARC clinic for a blood draw. Businesses can call 512-407-8686 to set up an account. Results take about 3-5 days. 

    • Do I have to be an ARC patient to get an antibody test at ARC?

      No. New and established patients can have an antibody test at ARC. New patients must have a telemedicine visit with a doctor to determine if an antibody test is indicated.

    • How do I get a lab order for an antibody test?

      • If you have had a visit with an ARC doctor for COVID-related symptoms, you can message that doctor on MyChart or call the clinic to request a lab order.
      • If you suspect you had COVID-19 or had direct contact with someone with COVID-19 but we have not seen you for COVID-related issues, then you must schedule an in-clinic or telemedicine visit with an ARC doctor. ARC doctors will explain antibody testing to you and how to interpret the results specific to your situation. We recommend a telemedicine visit for your convenience.

 

Insurance and cost

    • How can I continue to see my doctor if I lose my health insurance due to this pandemic?

      You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to get covered through the Marketplace, Medicaid, or CHIP. If you do, you can enroll outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period. We can help you stay with your ARC doctor.

    • What is the cost if I am uninsured?

      ARC is currently enrolling our doctors in a federal program that will cover COVID-related medical expenses for uninsured patients. This program is part of the FFCRA and CARES Act. We cannot guarantee that your visit and your test will be fully covered. If it is not covered, we do offer discounted pricing and payment plans.

    • What discounts do you offer uninsured patients?

      As a courtesy, ARC offers a 25% cash discount on most services to uninsured patients who pay in full at the time of service or by the “Due Date” on the first billing statement received. Please call (512) 407-8686 for further details. For an estimate of charges it is best to call your clinic in advance. Some services, such as lab tests, may be billed by the laboratory conducting testing.

    • Is there an affordable option for prescription medication?

      Express Scripts has set up a temporary program called Parachute RX for uninsured patients to make medications more affordable. It contains thousands of generic medications for $25 or less and some brand-name drugs for $75 or less. The program is available for medications from Express Scripts mail order and over 50,000 retail pharmacies.

       

 

Patient safety

    • Do I have to wear a mask to my visit?

      Yes, please wear a mask to your visit for the health and safety of yourself and others. Strict mask use has proven successful in protecting the health and safety of our doctors and staff. We also comply with all local ordinances concerning COVID-19 health and safety measures.

    • If I prefer not to come in, can I have a telemedicine visit?

      Your ARC primary or specialty care doctor will determine if you need to have your visit in the clinic or if a telemedicine visit is possible. You can schedule many telemedicine visits through ARC MyChart. You can also call your clinic and press "1" and request a telemedicine visit when you speak to a scheduler. Read more at ARCtelemedicine.com.

    • How does ARC separate patients exhibiting respiratory symptoms from others?

      ARC greeters screen all patients for symptoms of potential viral illness before entering the clinic. This protocol applies to all visits at all clinics, both primary care and specialty care.

      • For patients with symptoms, the greeter checks them in from outside the clinic and asks them to wait in their car. An ARC staff member meets them at the door when their exam room is ready and escorts them directly to the exam room.
      • Patients without symptoms check in at the front desk and wait in the lobby.
    • Can I bring a visitor with me to my visit?

      Due to the spread of COVID-19, ARC discourages guests. Patients may be accompanied by one healthy adult per patient, if help is needed for the visit. ARC greeters screen all visitors before entering the clinic and visitors with symptoms of any viral illness will be required to wait outside of the clinic.

    • How does ARC protect patients from getting coronavirus from staff?

      ARC follows CDC and City of Austin guidelines taking the following precautions.

      • Physicians, clinicians, and staff self monitor for symptoms and fever and wear masks at all times.
      • Anyone with a temperature or suspicion of COVID-19 gets tested and goes home to self-isolate.
      • If they test negative, they self-isolate until the fever is gone 24 hours AND symptoms improve.
      • If they test positive, they self-isolate until their fever is gone for 24 hours AND it has been at least 10 days since symptom onset AND symptoms improve.
      • If they do not have symptoms but had direct contact with a household member who tested positive and with whom they had prolonged close content, they self-quarantine for 14 days. 

 

Risk factors

    • Am I at risk for COVID-19 in Central Texas?

    • How easily does COVID-19 spread?

      The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread"). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area and may not be sure how or where they became infected. The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

      Read more about how COVID-19 spreads.

    • How can I tell if information online is true?

      There is a lot of information online about coronavirus that is untrue or misleading. In addition, fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits. Please be cautious of unsolicited requests for any ID or credit card information. A good resource to determine if something you read online is true is www.snopes.com. If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, contact National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline (866) 720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov.

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes. Read more.

    • Are children at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality from COVID-19 infection compared with adults?

      Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. However, a few children have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Currently, information about this syndrome is limited. CDC is working with state and local health departments to learn more about MIS-C.

      Read more about COVID-19 and children.

    • Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection, or at increased risk for severe illness with COVID-19?

      The CDC advises that pregnant women have no greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public. However, they recognize that pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections with viruses from the same family as COVID-19. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.

      Read more about COVID-19 and pregnant women.

    • Is breastfeeding safe when a mother has an infectious illness?

      Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. The limited data available suggests that the virus does not likely spread through breast milk. The CDC recommends a mother with symptoms or with confirmed COVID-19 should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast.  If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well, feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

      Read more about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.

       

 

Common symptoms

    • What is COVID-19?

      COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

      Read more about COVID-19.

    • What are the symptoms?

      Most people, especially children and those under 60 with no chronic medical conditions, who contract COVID-19 develop very mild symptoms that include fever, a dry cough, and fatigue, few will develop more advanced symptoms such as shortness of breath. ARC offers an online COVID-19 self-assessment tool to help you determine your risk of infection.

      covid19 symptoms

    • What symptoms require immediate attention?

      If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.

      Read more about COVID-19 symptoms.

      *This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

       

 

When to seek medical care

    • When should I call my doctor?

      You should seek medical advice if you have symptoms of fever, a dry cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath, especially if you are over 60 or have underlying health conditions. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion or inability to arouse
      • Bluish lips or face

      Call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.

    • Do I need to go to the ER?

      You should call 9-1-1 or go to the ER only if you experience emergency warning signs. Emergency warning signs include:

      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion or inability to arouse
      • Bluish lips or face

      We recommend you call your primary doctor at the first sign of symptoms. This will help limit the spread of the virus in our community. It will also allow emergency departments to care for patients with the most critical needs first.

      Call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.

       

 

Treatment

    • Are there any treatments available for children and adults with COVID-19?

      There are currently no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19. Antibiotics are not effective to treat COVID-19 since it is caused by a virus and antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. Research is currently ongoing for both anti-viral medications and development of a vaccine.

    • How should I take care of myself or family members if I suspect COVID-19 or test positive?

      If you display any signs of COVID-19, the best course of treatment in the majority of cases is to stay at home and treat your symptoms with over the counter medications. Here is what our ARC doctors recommend:

      • The CDC recommends continuing self-isolation until fever is resolved for 24 hours AND symptoms improve AND it has been at least 10 days since symptom onset.
      • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache, body aches, fever, and pain.
      • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your fever get better as your body is working to fight the virus.
      • Get plenty of rest.
      • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids including broth, tea, or another warm beverage.
      • Use cough drops or an over the counter cough suppressant as needed. (Ask the pharmacist what over-the-counter cough medicine is best for your cough. There any many options and your pharmacist can give you good advice).
      • Honey has been shown to help decrease coughing at night. The adult dose is 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
      • Avoid smoking to protect your lungs from infection.

      Read more about what to do if you get sick

    • What is the ordinance for people who are sick with coronavirus disease?

      If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, the shelter-in-place ordinance requires you to remain in home quarantine no less than 10 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications at 24 hours AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath.

      While sick, you must practice social distancing within the residence and observe hygiene practices for prevention of household spread, notifying the county health department if that is not possible. You must also notify your county’s public health authority if you leave your county.

       

    • Would you like to become a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor? 

      We Are Blood is actively collecting convalescent plasma donations from individuals who have had a lab-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection. This plasma is being used to treat patients currently fighting COVID-19. To qualify as a convalescent plasma donor you must have had a prior lab-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, have experienced no COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14-28 days, and meet standard donor eligibility criteria.

      COVID-19 convalescent plasma has not yet been fully tested for its effectiveness in treating the virus. However, before a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 convalescent plasma is an option for treating current COVID-19 patients and has been used successfully in the past to treat diseases like SARS and Ebola before vaccines were available.

      If you are a fully recovered COVID-19 patient and want to be considered as a convalescent plasma donor, please visit the We Are Blood website for more information. We Are Blood is the provider and protector of the Central Texas blood supply since 1951.

       

 

Prevention

    • Should I wear a face mask or covering when I go out?

      As of June 18, 2020, the City of Austin and Travis County has made it mandatory for all businesses to require that all employees and customers wear a face mask or covering. This requirement does include a doctor’s office. This is an additional protective measure to prevent asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus and further slow the spread of COVID-19. The recommendation is for use of cloth face coverings and not medical-grade masks or N-95 respirators, which, while better, are in short supply and should be conserved for healthcare workers and first responders. At the clinic, if you have any symptoms of viral illness, the ARC greeter at the entrance will give you a medical grade surgical mask to wear. This ensures the safety of a healthcare visit.

    • Is a valve mask as safe as other masks?

      No. A "valve mask" only protects the wearer but does not protect people around the person wearing the mask. The valve is one-way, filtering air breathed in, not breathed out. It does nothing to protect the people around the wearer therefor droplets from breath, sneezes, and coughs still spread. This valved mask does not prevent transmission from infected individuals (with or without symptoms) to people around them. During this pandemic, a surgical mask or cloth mask is far superior.

    • If I wear a mask do I still need to social distance?

      Yes, it is critical to understand that a face covering or mask does not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing. Instead, face coverings — coupled with physical distancing — are seen as important tools to decrease the risk of illness spread.

      Read the CDC recommendation for face coverings
      View the fabric face covering flyer

    • How can I protect myself and my family?

      The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventive measures are effective; the same ones that prevent the spread of colds and the flu:

      • Stay home if you are sick and self-isolate until fever is resolved for 24 hours AND symptoms improve AND it has been at least 10 days since symptom onset.
      • Avoid contact with those over 60 and with anyone who has any serious chronic medical conditions.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a waste basket and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
      • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
      • Practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds.
      • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.
      • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and anyone else.
      • Avoid non-essential travel.

      Read more about how to protect yourself

    • How can I talk to my kids about Coronavirus?

      Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, Co-Chief of ARC Pediatrics, suggests that before starting the conversation, parents should first check their own anxiety level. If you are anxious about this conversation, perhaps the other parent or a grandparent or another adult should be the one to have the conversation. Start by asking kids of any age about what they already know. Listen to what they say and correct any misinformation. Start with a question like, “Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness going around?”

      Read the full article here

    • What can I do to reduce stress and anxiety?

      A few things to reduce stress and anxiety include:

      • Give yourself a break from screens: watching the news, social media, your smart phone.
      • Take deep breaths, eat healthy, outdoor exercise, and get plenty of rest.
      • Do activities you enjoy (keeping in mind the social distancing measures above).
      • Connect with friends and family online or by phone, or in person if everyone is feeling healthy and symptom-free.
    • Is it safe to attend local events?

      No, due to community spread, all local events have been canceled until further notice.

       

 

Returning to work after COVID-19 illness

    • Do I need to require a doctor’s notes for my employees to return to work?

      No. According to the Austin Public Health Department, during the pandemic, employees who meet the following criteria for returning to work should NOT be required by employers to provide a healthcare provider’s note to return to work.

      The employee has had no fever for at least 24 hours, WITHOUT the use of fever reducing medications
      AND
      Respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
      At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

      Download the Austin Public Health Return to Work Guidance flyer.

    • Do the EEOC and CDC recommend doctor’s notes to return to work?

      No. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise that, practically speaking, doctors and other healthcare providers may be too busy to provide such documentation, so employers should consider allowing these employees to return to work as they see fit. Because of this, the CDC does not recommend that employers require their employees to provide communication from a physician or healthcare provider, "clearing," them to return to work.

      Download the Austin Public Health Return to Work Guidance flyer.

       

 

Social distancing

    • How important is it to practice social distancing now?

      Social distancing minimizes the spread of the virus. When we stay away from many people we deprive the virus the opportunity to move from one person to another. What does that mean in everyday actions?

      • Stay at home as much as possible.
      • Avoid gathering in public places.
      • Get your exercise outside rather than in a space with groups of people.
      • Take advantage of grocery delivery and pick-up services or shop when it is less crowded. Keep 6 -10 feet away from other people.
      • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses. Learn how to greet without exposure.

      Social distancing feels awkward and unnatural. We are social beings who need human interaction, so this call to distance ourselves from each other will be difficult. It has proved successful in places like Hong Kong and Singapore where they were able to flatten out the curve, unlike in Italy where it has overwhelmed their healthcare resources. The best we can do is learn from others' success.

      Read more about how to protect yourself.

       

 

Shelter-in-place

    • What is a shelter-in-place?

      A shelter-in-place instructs us to stay home during the time of an emergency. People are permitted to leave their home for essential activities, which include tasks related to health and safety, grocery shopping and outdoor activities that comply with proper social distancing practices.

    • Is ARC still open during stay home work safe?

      All Austin Regional Clinic locations remain OPEN and available for established and new patients. We will not cancel any already scheduled appointments and we are scheduling new appointments for primary care and specialties too. We continue to use COVID-19 patient safety protocols in all of our clinics, asking any patients with symptoms to wait in their cars until we are ready to see them.

 

 


Resources


Posters/Flyers
Print posters or flyers for your home, school, or business to help keep everyone informed and safe.
How to Greet without Exposure
If You're Coughing Wear a Mask
Stop the Spread of Germs
Wash Your Hands
ARC Pre-OP Patient Instructions
What To Do If You Are Sick With COVID-19

 

Austin Public Health
Travis County COVID-19 Summary: Visit the Austin Public Health page

View the Travis County COVID-19 Dashboard

Austin Public Health Return to Work Guidance

 

Williamson County Public Health
Williamson County COVID-19 Summary: Visit the Williamson County Public Health page

View the Williamson County COVID-19 Dashboard

 

CDC COVID-19 FAQs
More COVID-19 questions? Visit the CDC FAQ page

6 Steps to Prevent COVID-19 (ASL Version)

 

CDC Updates
CDC News Releases and Health Alert Network (HAN)

Texas Department of State Health Services
Got COVID-19 questions? Email or call the DSHS COVID 19 call center: (877) 570-9779 (Hours: 7am - 6pm Monday - Friday)

Global Cases
COVID-19 Global Cases by John Hopkins CSSE

Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line
The Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919 or you may click here.

Texas Health and Human Services
Access the website https://hhs.texas.gov/ for information on assistance with health care, utilities, food, housing, and more.

General Resources
Visit the links below for resources related to health care, utilities, food, housing, and more. Texans can dial 2-1-1 (option 6) for information on COVID-19 and local community resources.

www.austintexas.gov

http://www.connectatx.org

https://www.auntbertha.com