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Public Safety Alert: Coronavirus Outbreak Update

Thursday, February 13, 2020
updated March 20, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to monitor the coronavirus outbreak, now referred to as COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

The first case in the United States was announced on Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington State. Visit the state-specific Department of Health websites for statistics for your state.  


Where can I find the latest information?

For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website.

Recent provider education:

Find additional details at:

Why are people so worried about coronavirus?

This is a new virus, and it is creating great concern in the community. There is not a vaccine for this novel virus yet, and we do not have a specific medicine to treat it. An effective vaccine is most likely 12–18 months away. Also, the coronavirus is contagious – similar to the flu. Most people who become infected with the coronavirus have a mild illness or may not even have any symptoms.

Where can I find current guidelines for health care providers?

Review the CDC’s guidance for health care professionals. Be sure to get a detailed travel history for patients who present with flu-like illness.

Does TRICARE cover telemedicine?

If you have HIPAA-compliant telemedicine capability, consider offering that service as one way to minimize patient travel and contact exposures in clinical settings during the COVID-19 outbreak. TRICARE covers medically necessary telehealth services when all criteria are met. (Note: There are exceptions for Autism Care Demonstration Services.) For more information, including billing tips, visit our Telemedicine Services page.

Does TRICARE cover COVID-19 testing?

TRICARE covers medically necessary and appropriate testing. Beneficiaries suspected to have COVID-19 should be tested following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. There are no authorization requirements; you do not need an approval from HNFS for medically necessary testing. See also TRICARE coverage for COVID-19 testing.


What are the CDC recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other viral illnesses?

Review CDC guidelines at www.cdc.gov/COVID19 and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.

What recommendations should I give to patients who are concerned they may have COVID-19 or believe they have been in contact with someone with the virus?

  • Seek medical advice.
    • Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. 
    • Tell your doctor about recent travel and your symptoms. 
    • Some providers may offer telemedicine as an alternative to coming into the office. TRICARE covers medically-necessary telemedicine services when all criteria are met. Learn more on our Telemedicine Services page
    • If your primary doctor is not available, TRICARE beneficiaries can go to any TRICARE-authorized urgent care center or if necessary, an emergency department. 
    • TRICARE beneficiaries who need health advice can contact the Military Health System’s Nurse Advice Line 24/7. 
  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Contact your local public health department as soon as practical. 
  • Learn more at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

What can one do while sick to prevent the spread to others?


For those planning travel to abroad to affected countries:

View the CDC’s current travel notice and FAQs.


For travelers already in affected countries where the virus may be present.

View the CDC’s current travel notice and FAQs.


For travelers returning from areas with the virus.

United States residents who travel to other countries where this outbreak has occurred may be screened upon re-entry to the US. 

Certain military installations have been selected as potential U.S. quarantine sites.



Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html