The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best defense against the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to the vaccine, other treatment options may help if you get sick with COVID-19.
Looking for information on Test to Treat?
Test to Treat sites offer rapid testing for COVID-19, a medical consultation as appropriate, and Paxlovid anti-viral pills, if indicated. For SLO County locations and other details, please visit: https://slopublichealth.org/testing.
When to recover at home and when to seek treatment
The right course of action for someone with COVID-19 varies by person:
||Many people can treat mild symptoms of COVID-19 at home without prescription medication 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.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at increased risk for severe illness, contact your doctor to discuss treatment options, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
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.
Types of treatments available
Two main types of medication are available for outpatient treatment of COVID-19 in SLO County:
Antiviral pills are available by prescription at local pharmacies and have been shown to lower the risk of hospitalization and death in people who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. They are most effective when taken in the first five days of illness -- the sooner, the better.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. These therapies are given by IV or injection in a hospital or clinic. They can be started in the first seven days of illness and are most effective when started as early as possible within that window.
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
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight viruses. While not a miracle cure, this medicine may be a promising treatment for COVID-19 for people at increased risk, when taken within a certain window of time.
- When: This treatment is available in the first seven days of illness and is most effective when taken as early as possible within that window. A supply of monoclonal antibodies is regularly shipped from the state to the Public Health Department, which then promptly distributes them to participating health care providers. If a provider is not able to use a treatment, it is re-allocated to another local provider so it is not wasted or unused. That means availability from each provider may vary daily and it is important to call ahead.
- Where: If you have COVID-19 but do not have severe symptoms, please seek treatment in a setting other than a hospital ER. See “next steps,” below. When supply allows, this treatment is available at all four SLO County hospitals (Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, Twin Cities Community Hospital), Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC), and some independent providers, including Regenerative Mind Body (Dr. Timothy Jones). The HHS Therapeutics Locator provides a searchable map of providers nationwide.
- Next steps for patients: If you test positive for COVID-19 and are at increased 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 you do not have a regular doctor or if you wish to contact the treatment clinics directly, please call ahead to see if the clinic has supply and if you meet current criteria. If you have mild symptoms, we encourage you not to go to the ER for this treatment without calling ahead.
Paxlovid is a take-at-home course of pills that does not prevent disease but may reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for patients at high risk of severe illness. It has recently become more widely available at pharmacies in SLO County.
- 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 some pharmacies in SLO County and through Community Health Centers of the Central Coast (CHC). Find Paxlovid near your via the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator.
- 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. If you do and if supply is available, they can write a prescription that you can then fill at a pharmacy.
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 serious 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 you have mild symptoms, 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. This medication is not currently widely available in SLO County. Patients who are interested in this medication should speak with their health care provider.
Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting antibodies that can prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting cells in the body—much like the antibodies produced by vaccines. Evusheld is in adequate supply in SLO County.
- Who: This therapy is intended for individuals (ages 12+) who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (for whom the COVID-19 vaccines may not create strong protection) and for those who cannot complete the COVID-19 vaccine series due to allergy or a severe reaction.
- When: This therapy is effective when used as protection before you are exposed to COVID-19, not as a treatment if you are sick.
- Where: Several private health care providers in SLO County are providing this therapy by physician referral.
- Next steps for patients: If you are moderately or severely immune compromised and are interested in receiving this therapy, talk with your health care provider. Your provider may refer you for this therapy.
- Note to providers: Health care providers in SLO County may make referrals to:
- Dr. Barry Eibschutz, 805-781-0702
- Dr. Thomas Spillane, 805-543-5577