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Are You at Risk for Developing Severe COVID? Treatment May Be Available

doctor talking to a patient regarding their prescription

While vaccination continues to provide the best protection against COVID-19, an oral anti-viral treatment can help people who are at high risk from getting really sick. That’s why if you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s very important to visit your healthcare provider right away. 

Test to Treat is a new federal program that can help people quickly access free treatment for COVID-19. These medications can help prevent severe illness and hospitalization when taken within five days after symptom onset. 

Through this program, people can get tested and—if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them—receive a prescription from a health care provider and have their prescription filled at a participating pharmacy or clinic at one convenient location.  

A health care provider will tell you if you are eligible to receive treatment based on your risk level for progressing to severe COVID-19, current medications you are taking, access to other approved treatments and age (patients must be 12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 pounds/40 kg). 

The program prioritizes high-risk communities and individuals who are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and are at high risk, do not wait to visit your doctor or a Test to Treat clinic to get treated.

How do I receive treatment for COVID-19?

video screenshot

Click on the image above to view a 1-minute video, “Test to Treat: Faster, Easier Access to Life‑Saving COVID‑19 Treatments” (YouTube).

There is no cost for COVID-19 oral anti-viral treatment whether you go to your own health care provider or to one of the Test to Treat clinics, regardless of insurance or immigration status. 

To receive treatment and to find out if you meet eligibility criteria: 

  • Speak to your healthcare provider first if you have one. Your provider can give you a prescription that can be filled anywhere antivirals are being distributed. 
  • If you do not have a health provider and need help finding a place to get medication, you can locate a Test to Treat clinic near you. There are currently 11 Test to Treat locations in the King County area. More sites may become available. Enter your zip code into the Test to Treat locator or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish and more than 150 other languages.
  • You can also bring your test result from an at-home (antigen) test or a testing site to a participating Test to Treat location where an on-site health care provider can prescribe treatment. 
  • The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) or e-mail DIAL@usaginganddisability.org. Interpretation is available, just say the language needed when the call is connected.

Do I have to be tested at a Test to Treat location to receive treatment? 

No. You can get tested through your health care provider and receive a prescription that can be filled anywhere antivirals are being distributed. You can also bring your test result from an at-home (antigen) test or a testing site to a participating Test to Treat location.  

What types of medication are available through the Test to Treat program?

The Test to Treat program includes two oral antiviral pills—Pfizer’s Paxlovid (Ritonavir-boosted Nirmatrelvir) and Merck’s Lagevrio (Molnupiravir). These medications can help prevent severe illness and hospitalization when taken soon after symptom onset. Medication must be taken within 5 days of COVID-19 symptoms starting. Find more information about oral antivirals here: What are Oral Antivirals?  

How does oral antiviral medication work? 

Oral antiviral treatment may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the virus that causes COVID-19 from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system.  

To learn more information about the Test to Treat program or to find a Test to Treat location near you, go to aspr.hhs.gov/TestToTreat


Written by Karen Andrade, this article was originally published on April 18, 2022 in Public Health Insider.

Posted in Health Care