What To Do If You Feel Sick

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Did you know there are treatments for COVID-19? Research shows they work by lowering your risk of going to the hospital and dying—but you have to get them in time. Treatments are available for people who are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Nearly two thirds of people in North Carolina are high risk, so don’t rule yourself out.

As soon as you feel sick, it’s time to get tested and treated. That’s because treatments work best if you start them soon after you notice symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, your first symptoms may be a cough, headache, or sore throat—and they may even be mild. The key is: don’t wait.

Don’t wait to see if your symptoms get worse. If you feel sick, even a little, take steps to get tested and treated now.

If You Feel Sick

Step 1: Stay away from other people

You may be contagious, so it’s important to stay isolated as much as possible–except to get medical care. How long do you need to stay isolated? Use this tool to find out

If you can get a COVID-19 test, take it as soon as possible. If you can't get a test, don't let that stop you from taking the next step in getting treatment. Find a test.

Step 2: Talk to a medical professional

You can get treatment even if your symptoms are mild, but you have to get it within 5-7 days of feeling symptoms. You can only get treatment from a medical professional.

If you have trouble breathing or notice any of these warning signs, seek medical care right away.

Here are three ways to get treatment:

  • Call your doctor, if you have one. They'll recommend the best course of action.
  • Go to a test to treat location where you can get tested and treated in one visit, even if you don't have insurance. You may be charged for testing and evaluation.
  • If you don't know where to go, call 800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489).

About Treatments

The following options are available to treat people who are likely to get very sick from COVID-19:

  • Antivirals (e.g. Paxlovid and Molnupiravir) are pills you can take. You'll need a prescription to get them, and you have to start taking them within five days of your first symptoms.
  • Other options may be available to treat symptoms shortly after they begin. If you have symptoms, don’t wait—seek testing right away and talk to a health care provider.

There's misleading information out there about drugs not authorized for treatment of COVID-19. They include hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and some other veterinary medications. Do not take any medications unless they are FDA approved and prescribed by your doctor.

Treatments are not a substitute for vaccination. Vaccines offer the best protection against COVID-19.

Learn more about treatments or compare authorized treatment options for mild to moderate COVID-19. Please check back often as information is updated.

Know Your Rights

All health care providers must:

  • follow ADA accessibility requirements.
  • treat you even if you don't have government-issued ID.
  • treat you even if you don't have insurance.


What should you do if you don’t have medical insurance or a doctor?

Don’t panic. If you test positive and need treatment, federal test to treat locations must give you antiviral pills at no cost. You might be charged for testing and evaluation. 

If you do not have insurance, CVS stores with a MinuteClinic may cover the cost of in-person testing, evaluation, and treatment.

Don’t have insurance? You may be eligible to have your COVID-19 vaccine, testing and treatment covered at no-cost by Medicaid, even if you are not currently a Medicaid beneficiary. Apply online.

Will your insurance cover treatment costs?

If you have Medicare or Medicaid, your insurance will cover all treatment costs.

Private insurance must cover the cost of antiviral pills. Depending on your plan, your insurer might charge you for testing or evaluation.

What should you do if you’re not sure about the next step?

Talk to your doctor if you have one, or call 800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489).