The U.S. military says it has plenty of coronavirus tests ready to meet the demand, but not everyone meets requirements to get tested.
Military family members and retirees covered under Tricare and veterans using the Department of Veterans Affairs health system can receive a test for the novel coronavirus, but only if they meet certain conditions.
The VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk. The VA is working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the virus.
The VA and Tricare have instituted several rules around who qualifies for testing such as The patient has COVID-19 symptoms, like a fever, cough and shortness of breath. The patient has traveled to one of the affected areas, like China or Italy. Or they have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
For all testing fees to be waived the patient must live in an area where there has been community spread of the virus. Additionally, Tricare announced that testing is free for all beneficiaries. While it will still be no-cost if the test was prescribed by a network or non-provider, the usual copay or cost-share for the doctor visit will apply.
The VA is urging veterans to receive care virtually by downloading its VA Telehealth App; Tricare wants beneficiaries to call into the Military Health System Nurse Advice Line and chat with a registered nurse to assess their symptoms, and if needed, they can coordinate a virtual visit with a health care provider.
VA Medical officials said 14 Defense Department laboratories are performing COVID-19 testing, and they expect more to come online. Also, VA officials said that Military clinics can utilize state public health labs.
As of April 13, 2020, the VA has recorded 4,097 Positive Veteran Cases, and 241 deaths, which is up 41 more than from the day before. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection and no medication to treat it.
Therefore, at this time, the VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to postpone their visits to VA facilities, because the CDC believes symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, and one should avoid exposure as well as exposing others to infection by following these simple steps:
1) Learn to use VA Video Connect through the VA mobile app store or by contacting your VA care team, before any urgent problems arise.
2) Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
3) Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
4) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
5) Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
6) Stay home when you are sick or becoming sick.
7) Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and throw the tissue in the trash.
8) Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
9) Getting a flu shot is recommended.
You can stay up to date on the latest information about testing at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/. And, the CDC has a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.faq.html
(Please respect, support, and assist your military service members, and consider joining a MAVA Post near you. To find out more about MAVA, and to start a post where you live visit: http://mavanational.org/ and on Facebook. MAVA National is a 501c(19) Non-Profit Organization.)