Medicine to treat COVID-19 is available at no cost for most people in California. This medicine includes pills you take at home for five days. Treatment can:
- Stop the illness from getting serious
- Help you test negative sooner
- Help reduce the risk of long COVID symptoms.
It's important to start treatment early, within the first five days of symptoms.
How to Get COVID-19 Treatment
Talk with your regular healthcare provider
If you test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms, it's a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider -- especially if you are age 50 or older or have any of the common health conditions that can make COVID-19 more severe.
Find a nearby Test to Treat site
Test to Treat provides testing and prompt treatment for people age 50 and older and those with common health conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19. See local Test to Treat sites.
Get treatment services via telehealth (computer, cell phone, or landline)
If you don't have health insurance or aren't able to reach your doctor within 24 hours, you can see a doctor at no cost via telehealth with your computer, cell phone, or landline. This program from the State of California is for people who have tested positive and have symptoms. To make an appointment, visit sesamecare.com/covidca or call 833-686-5051. See more detail.
Call 911 or go to the ER if you have emergency symptoms
If you start to experience emergency symptoms, get care immediately by calling 911 or going to the emergency room. Tell the 911 dispatcher or ER staff that you have COVID-19.
Care for mild symptoms at home if you do not get treatment
If prescription treatment is not indicated for you, you can treat mild COVID-19 symptoms at home by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. You can take over-the-counter medications (like Tylenol or Ibuprofen) as directed on the bottle to provide relief from fever and pain. See guidance from the CDC for at-home treatment of COVID-19.
Types of treatments available
Several types of medication are available for outpatient treatment of COVID-19 in SLO County:
Paxlovid is a take-at-home course of pills that is very effective at treating COVID-19 and preventing severe illness. It is widely available free of charge at pharmacies in SLO County and through participating Test to Treat sites.
- Who: This treatment is recommended for people ages 50 and older, and those ages 12 and older with certain risk factors, including common conditions such as physical inactivity. Most adults and some teens meet these criteria and are recommended to receive Paxlovid.
- When: This treatment is most effective when taken in the first five days of illness -- the sooner, the better.
- Where: This medication is currently available at many pharmacies in SLO County and Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC). Find Paxlovid near you via the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator.
- Next steps for patients: If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms after being recently exposed, call your regular doctor and ask them about treatment. They can tell you if you would benefit from Paxlovid and can write a prescription that you can then fill at a pharmacy. You can also visit a local pharmacy or urgent care where providers test you for COVID-19 and assess you for treatment that is available for you to take home. (Call ahead if you are interested in this service.) If you are unable to reach a health care provider quickly, you can talk to a telehealth provider at no cost for COVID-19 care and have a prescription sent to a pharmacy near you: call 833-686-5051, or visit sesamecare.com/covid (free of charge, no health insurance required).
See the ASPR Paxlovid Eligibility and Effectiveness Information Sheet.
See the FDA Paxlovid Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Sheet.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine given by a series of IV infusions in a hospital or clinic setting over the course of several days. This medicine may be a promising treatment for COVID-19 for certain individuals at high risk of severe disease. It is currently in adequate supply; health care providers may order it directly from the manufacturer.
- Who: This medication is available to adult and pediatric patients with certain health conditions that put them at risk of severe disease. This is the only COVID-19 medication treatment option for individuals less than 12 years of age.
- When: This treatment is most effective when taken early in the course of illness.
- Where: In addition to inpatient hospital settings, FDA notes this medication may now be provided in skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare settings and outpatient facilities such as infusion centers. The Public Health Department is available to provide technical assistance to any local providers who wish to begin administering this medication to outpatients.
- Next steps for patients: If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk, call your regular doctor and ask them about treatment. They can tell you if you would benefit from this treatment, and they can recommend where you may receive it. If your symptoms are mild, we encourage you not to go to the ER for any treatment without calling ahead.
Molnupiravir is a set of take-at-home pills that has received emergency use authorization for people at high risk for severe illness for whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate. (That is, it is only indicated for patients who cannot take Paxlovid.) Patients who are interested in this medication should speak with their health care provider.
See the ASPR Lagevrio (Molnupiravir) Eligibility and Effectiveness Information Sheet.
See the FDA Lagevrio (Molnupiravir) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Sheet.
COVID-19 convalescent plasma with high titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is authorized for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who have immune compromise or are receiving immunosuppressive treatment, in inpatient or outpatient settings.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight viruses. These therapies are given by injection or IV infusion in a hospital or clinic. Currently, there are no monoclonal antibodies authorized for use in the U.S. as treatment for COVID-19 because they are not effective against currently-circulating variants.
Information and resources for healthcare providers
See COVID-19 treatment information and resources for healthcare providers.
For the latest information on COVID-19 treatments in California, see the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Treatments hub.
Visit CA Treatment Hub