Care and treatment for COVID-19

Most people can safely recover from COVID-19 at home. But it’s still important to know when to seek medical care. 

You have many care and treatment options at Kaiser Permanente. Find out how to manage common symptoms, protect yourself and others, and when to see a doctor. 

What to do if you’re sick with a cough

Cough is a common symptom of COVID-19, as well as a cold and the flu. In this video, learn how to treat your cough at home and what to avoid so your cough won’t get worse. You’ll also find what type of cough medicine is best for a wet cough versus a dry cough. 

How is COVID-19 treated?

Parent tending to sick child

Recovering at home

Most people can recover from COVID-19 at home. You can take steps to protect yourself and others by self-isolating, continuing to wear a mask, and washing your hands often. 

Person meeting doctor virtually on a tablet

Seeing a doctor

In some cases, like if you have more severe symptoms or are at high risk for illness, you may need to see your doctor.  

Doctor speaking with patient

Getting emergency care

While you have many ways to get care, certain symptoms require immediate attention. 

Person sitting at desk while on an e-visit with a doctor

Get care based on your symptoms

Looking for COVID-19 care? Get started with an e-visit to get guidance for care based on your symptoms or to request a COVID-19 test without a trip to your doctor’s office. 

Just answer a quick self-service questionnaire and get a response from a clinician. After your e-visit, you’ll get treatment advice and any necessary prescriptions. 

You’ll need a account to start an e-visit. If you don’t have an account, visit to create one. Or try one of our other convenient care options. 

Recovering at home

Most people experience mild symptoms and can safely recover from COVID-19 at home. Learn how to take care of yourself and protect others in your household. 

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory infection and can feel like a common cold, the flu, or RSV. COVID-19 symptoms come on gradually and may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. They can range from mild to severe. 

Common symptoms:1

Rare symptoms:

Common over-the-counter medications can be used to treat your COVID-19 symptoms, such as taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).2 If you aren’t sure, check with your doctor.

Explore more self-care and wellness tools to help you cope with stress, sleep well, eat healthy, and more. 

The coronavirus spreads from person to person, at a close distance. If someone in your household is experiencing symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s important to take extra precautions, regardless of anyone’s vaccination status. This will help avoid spreading it to others.

Visit and follow the CDC guidance for more information.

Here are some other things you can do to protect yourself and your family if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for test results, or are being evaluated for possible symptoms.


  • Practice healthy habits like getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and eating healthy foods.
  • Limit contact with others in the household. Avoid having visitors and eat in separate rooms or at different times.
  • Wear a mask when in the same room as other people. If your mask gets dirty, replace it immediately.
  • Wash your hands often and immediately after touching shared items and surfaces. Wash for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol content. 
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home daily. Wear a mask and gloves when you clean, and wash your hands after. 
  • Have designated waste bags for any used masks and gloves. Keep them in a safe place away from other people.


  • Don’t ignore your symptoms. Get care if you need help managing your symptoms or if you are experiencing serious symptoms.
  • Don’t share personal items like dishes, towels, bedding, or electronics. 
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Seeing a doctor

Keep track of how you’re feeling. For most healthy people, COVID-19 should improve in about 7 to 10 days. If you’re sick for longer than that or have severe symptoms, contact your doctor. 

If you’re at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19, be extra vigilant for any symptoms so you can get treatment as soon as possible. If you take a COVID-19 home antigen test and get a positive result, ask your doctor about COVID-19 medication.

Find out how to get care or call us at the number on your member ID card. If you need an in-person appointment, please call ahead for instructions on how to check in — and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing your mask. 

If you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, you have many options for care.

  • Complete an e-visit as soon as possible. You’ll get treatment advice and any necessary prescriptions. 
  • You can call our 24/7 advice line or schedule a phone or video visit on to talk with a clinician.3
  • To avoid delaying care, we don’t recommend emailing your doctor about COVID-19.

Your care team will check what medications you’re taking and may ask for additional lab tests to make sure you’re a good candidate for COVID-19 treatment. If you are, your prescription can be available at many Kaiser Permanente pharmacies. 

There are several outpatient treatments that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, many of these are available only in the hospital setting and are reserved for severe cases. The treatments you receive if hospitalized are based on what medication is most effective at the time.

  • For outpatient treatment for mild to moderate symptoms you can care for yourself at home while you’re in isolation. Your doctor may have you take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for a fever.2
  • For outpatient treatment in at-risk individuals with mild to moderate symptoms the FDA has either approved or given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to 3 medications (Paxlovid, Remdesivir, and Molnupiravir). They work by stopping the virus from making copies within the body to limit the spread of the virus. In managing our supply of each of these medications, Kaiser Permanente is following the recommendations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for prioritization of use in patients at highest risk of severe COVID-19.
  • For patients hospitalized with COVID-19, antivirals (such as Remdesivir) may be used to stop the spread of virus in moderately ill hospitalized patients, and immunomodulators (such as dexamethasone, JAK inhibitor baricitinib, or IL-6 inhibitor Tocilizumab) may be used to reduce inflammation in patients with severe pneumonia who need additional oxygen. 

While these therapies are helpful for those with severe infection, prevention and vaccination are still our greatest opportunities to address COVID-19.

Paxlovid is an antiviral treatment used to prevent severe COVID-19 in high-risk patients. It’s available at many Kaiser Permanente pharmacies by prescription only.

Paxlovid is currently available if you have an active COVID-19 infection and conditions that put you at high risk of complications from the disease. Your care team may recommend Paxlovid if:

  • You’re 12 or older
  • You’ve recently tested positive for COVID-19
  • It’s been 5 days or less since your symptoms started 
  • You have a condition that puts you at a high risk of complications from COVID-19

For some people, Paxlovid may have 2 mild side effects: a metallic taste in the mouth and diarrhea. These side effects will go away once you’ve finished taking Paxlovid. Also, your care team will check what medications you’re taking and determine if any of them need to be held or have dosing changes while you are taking Paxlovid. 

Getting emergency care

These life-threatening symptoms are emergency warning signs:

  • Trouble breathing or gasping for air
  • Blue-colored lips or face
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Severe or consistent pain in the chest
  • Acting confused
  • Unconscious or difficulty waking up
  • Slurred speech

If you believe you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.4 Tell them that you may have COVID-19. If possible, put on your mask before help arrives.

You have many convenient ways to get care. But some symptoms need immediate attention. 

If you develop life-threatening symptoms, such as trouble breathing, consistent pain in the chest, or bluish lips or face, call 911 and tell them that you may have COVID-19.4 If possible, put on your mask before help arrives.

If you experience severe COVID-19 symptoms while you’re traveling, seek care immediately for testing and diagnosis. In many places, you can get 24/7 care by phone or video from a Kaiser Permanente health care professional. 

To learn more about getting care while traveling, call the Away from Home Travel Line at 951-268-3900 (TTY 711)5 or visit

Frequently asked questions

In rare cases, a COVID-19 infection and symptoms can reappear 2 to 8 days after recovering and testing negative — and after finishing Paxlovid. This is called a rebound infection. We don’t recommend treating a rebound infection with Paxlovid, but you’ll need to isolate again for 5 to 10 days to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others.

Based on the most current information from the CDC, if you’re pregnant, then you might be at higher risk of severe illness from the virus. Pregnant people who have health conditions such as diabetes might be at an even higher risk of severe illness. You might be at risk for pregnancy complications such as preterm birth.

Watch the COVID and pregnancy video to learn more.

For more information on how COVID-19 could affect you or your care if you’re pregnant, visit the COVID-19 maternity page. You’ll find a detailed breakdown of what we know about COVID-19’s effect on pregnancy and newborn care, as well as changes to your pregnancy care.

Children with COVID-19 generally have mild, cold-like symptoms. While serious COVID-19 cases are rare among young people, it’s still a possibility — and children can spread COVID-19 to others even if they have no symptoms themselves. 

Keep your child home and away from others and practice healthy habits to prevent spreading the virus to family members. Be sure to keep your child away from any high-risk adults (even if you don’t know for sure that your child has COVID-19). High-risk adults include anyone over 65, anyone with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant people. 

  • If symptoms are minor, care for your child as if they have a typical cough or cold and keep an eye out for worsening symptoms. If you’re worried about your child’s illness, or if their symptoms are moderate or not going away, please call us for advice.  
  • If your child exhibits more serious symptoms, call us to schedule a phone, video, or e-visit. 
  • If you believe your child has an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.4 
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and need a doctor’s note for work or school, you can do a COVID-19 e-visit or email your doctor’s office.


1Information doesn’t include all possible symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms may change with new variants and depending on vaccination status.
2Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medication mentioned. Any trade name listed is for easy identification only. 
3When appropriate and available. 
4For the complete definition of an emergency medical condition, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or other coverage documents. 
5This number can be dialed from both inside and outside the United States. Before the phone number, dial “001” for landlines and “+1” for mobile lines if you’re outside the country. Long-distance charges may apply and we can’t accept collect calls. The phone line is closed on major holidays (New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). It closes early the day before a holiday at 10 p.m. Pacific time (PT), and it reopens the day after a holiday at 4 a.m. PT.


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