April 8, 2022
COVID-19 treatments widely available for people at high risk of severe disease
COVID-19 treatments are now widely available and can be accessed at many pharmacies, clinics and health systems across the state. These treatments can help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, especially when taken early.
Not everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to take medication. People who are at higher risk for severe illness are most likely to benefit from treatment, even if they have mild symptoms. People can be high risk for many reasons. Some of the most common risk factors are: being age 65 and older; obesity; having chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, kidney disease or diabetes; being on treatment that suppresses your immune system; or pregnancy. To find a full list of factors that may put someone at higher risk, visit CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
If you are at higher risk, get tested as soon as possible after being in contact with a person who has COVID-19 or if you develop symptoms and talk to a health care provider right away. To be effective, treatment should begin as soon as possible after symptoms start or you test positive. It is important for a provider to review your medical conditions and current medications to determine which treatment is right for you as some COVID-19 treatments may interact with some medications.
“Early testing and treatment for COVID-19 can mean the difference between a hospital stay and being able to take medication at home for those who are at higher risk for severe disease,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, MDH state epidemiologist and medical director. “COVID-19 medications are now more widely available and acting right away by getting tested is important because treatments need to be started early to work.”
To get access to COVID-19 treatments, people can:
- Talk to their health care provider to get tested and/or get a prescription if they already have a positive test.
- Visit the MDH Where to Access Oral Antiviral Therapy in Minnesota webpage to find a provider near you.
- Use the federal COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator, which includes pharmacy-based clinics and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), to find a location near you.
“COVID-19 treatments are a very valuable tool in our toolbox, but preventing infection is more effective than treating infection. We have the tools to prevent infection, which prevents transmission and helps to keep levels of COVID-19 down in our communities,” Dr. Lynfield added.
Important tools to keep COVID-19 levels down include vaccines, boosters, washing hands often, getting tested if you are sick or are exposed to someone with COVID-19, and staying home when you are sick. In addition, it is important to follow the CDC COVID-19 community level in your area, use well-fitting high-quality masks when needed or based on personal preference, and follow other public health guidance.
Dr. Lynfield noted that COVID-19 community levels are currently low across the state; however, there are still cases occurring, and we do not know if cases could increase again in the future.
For more information on COVID-19 treatments, including where to find treatment locations in Minnesota, go to the MDH COVID-19 Medication Options webpage.
For more information on COVID-19, including information on vaccines and recommendations for wearing masks, go to MDH Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).