As the Department of Defense continues to take preventative action aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, they have also announced military family coronavirus testing qualifications that need to be met in order to be tested.
For information about basic training changes as a result of the coronavirus, go here.
For information about how PCS and TDY/TAD orders are being effected by the coronavirus, go here.
Of course, many service members and their families fall within an age range that does not place them at serious risk even if they do contract Covid-19. Many, however, will still need some degree of medical treatment as they recover from the virus, so efforts are focused on slowing the spread of the virus within the population to ensure everything that needs care can easily receive it. It is currently recommended that military families take steps to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, rather than immediately pursue testing.
However, for those who may be worried that they’ve already contracted the coronavirus, it’s important that you understand the testing procedure and what to do to pursue testing without placing others at risk of exposure.
Military family coronavirus testing requirements
In order to qualify for testing at this point, a person must meet one of three primary forms of criteria:
- Exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 infection
- Recent travel to a highly effected area like China or Italy
- Close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19
While these parameters may seem frustrating to many that would like to be tested just to be safe, it’s important that the tests available to patients are used primarily for those who have likely been exposed to the virus first and foremost. Because testing availability remains limited in many communities, it’s even more important that service members and dependents that meet these military family coronavirus testing prerequisites are given fast access to the available tests.
If you are a veteran and no longer using Tricare for health insurance, you can be tested for the coronavirus at VA medical facilities if you meet the above testing requirements with the addition of living in a region with confirmed cases of community-spread Covid-19 infections.
What should you do if you think you may have the coronavirus?
If you have reason to believe that you have been exposed to or you may already be infected with the coronavirus, Tricare and VA medical facilities have asked that you not immediately go there to seek treatment.
Active service members and their families can utilize the Military Health System’s Nurse Advice Line to chat with registered nurses that can help you identify symptoms and arrange for further care. In many cases, the Nurse Advice Line can even coordinate for “virtual appointments” with healthcare providers over the internet, so you don’t need to risk further exposure, or exposing others, to speak to a medical professional.
There are currently 14 laboratories that fall under the Department of Defense equipped to test for the coronavirus, with more expected soon. Military health facilities also have access to state and public testing systems as well. If you meet the testing criteria, arrangements can be made through the Nurse Advice Line for you to be tested.
The VA also has remote access to medical professionals available through their VA Telehealth App.
How can you protect yourself and your family from Covid-19 exposure?
The best way to slow the spread of the virus and to keep your family safe from infection is to limit your interactions with the public in every way that’s feasible for you and your family. That means working from home when possible, limiting your shopping to off-hour times of day and maintaining a distance of six feet or more from other people. Most importantly, wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds often, especially after leaving your house.
Make sure to disinfect common areas on a regular basis and exercise good habits when it comes to coughing and sneezing (into your arm, rather than your hands).