About the Coronavirus: Preventions, Symptoms, Testing and the Impact on International Students

About the Coronavirus: Preventions, Symptoms, Testing and the Impact on International Students

How did we get here?

Since January, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has quickly made its way to various countries throughout the world. Within the United States, many states have declared a state of emergency, and other states are rapidly seeing confirmations of cases as well. 

While there is still some question as to how the virus spreads, CDC has confirmed that it can be transferred from one person to another from within six feet of each other, primarily through respiratory droplets – such as from coughing or a sneezing. When nearby people inhale these droplets and they enter the lungs, there is risk for the virus to spread. 

What are the impacts to international student community?

As many schools have closed in response to spreading cases of COVID-19, many classes have been cancelled. Besides the impact on campus events and campus visitors, international students may also need to cancel their spring break travel plans if they plan to travel internationally. Your school may not be able to issue travel signature on your I-20.

Also, because international students need to maintain full-time student status at the institution in order to keep valid a F1 visa, ISO highly recommends you closely keep up with with any school announcements and proactively reach out to school if you have any doubts about maintaining your F1 visa status.

How can people protect themselves from COVID-19?

1. Practice good hygiene

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol hand rub regularly, especially after coughing or sneezing

For more information , please visit CDC’s guidance:


2. Be aware of potential symptoms

The major symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It can take 2 to 14 days for symptoms to show.

Stay home and avoid public contact if you feel the above symptoms. You should keep a safe distance (at least 3 feet) from others to reduce the risk of transmitting germs.

If your symptoms continue or worsen, immediately seek medical advice from a health care provider including student health center. Be sure to call the office beforehand, so they are aware of your symptoms.

3. Stay informed and Don’t panic

The United States government has been releasing a multitude of updates tracking the spread and severity of the coronavirus. To stay the most up to date on everything, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization WHO both have websites dedicated specifically to updating information and giving valuable advice.

Colleges and universities are also constantly updating and informing their students of new developments, as well as providing resources to those who need support. Monitor any updates from your school and academic advisors closely, especially if you have travel plans.

If you find yourself excessively worrying about the coronavirus and are emotionally stressed, remember that all ISO members have free access to behavioral health counseling through CareConnect. A licensed behavioral health clinician will be able to help you via phone.

4. Ensure coverage

During a time like this, it is especially important to have health insurance while in the United States and never leave yourself uninsured. All of ISO’s plans provide coverage for sickness and injury, including the COVID-19. To buy or extend the insurance plan, be sure to do so on our website: www.isoa.org.

The Questions Everyone is Asking…

1. What if I think I’m infected with the Coronavirus?

If you think you may have the Coronavirus, it is important to stay home and visit a doctor as soon as possible.  From there, the clinician will determine the best course of action. 

Since it is also flu season with similar symptoms the provider may test you for the flu first.  Whether you will also be tested for Coronavirus depends on the CDC’s guideline. This guideline for testing is regularly changing.  Currently, clinicians  can use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.

2. Where can I get tested, and what is the procedure?

  • You can visit your school’s student health center, urgent care, or a primary care physician. Those with ISO plans can find in-network providers through FirstHealth/Multiplan on our website.
  • Before you visit, make sure to call the provider office first so they are aware of your symptoms. Severe symptoms (unable to breathe and/or fever of 103 F (39.4 C) may warrant a visit to the Emergency Room.
  • As a patient, you do not have to worry about finding a laboratory with the ability to process this test. Your state or local health department officials will assist clinicians in collecting, storing, and shipping any specimen to testing facilities. Visit your doctor and when there is a potential patient with COVID-19, then they will order the test. 

3.  Is the Coronavirus test free? How much does it cost?

According to CDC guidelines, a clinical specimen is collected from the patients for routine testing of respiratory pathogens in a lab. 

While the products for this test are free of charge by the CDC, it is important to be aware of pre-test fees such as for your office visit, the flu test cost, lab costs, etc. These costs vary between providers and each procedure. For further information about the test for the coronavirus, click here.

4. Does ISO plans cover the test and cost of treatment?

ISO plans provide coverage for the tests and cost of treatment if the event occurred during plan period as according to your plan benefits (subject to deductible, copay, network, exclusions, etc.). To ensure you are properly covered before you begin to show symptoms, enroll in a plan NOW if you do not have active insurance coverage.

If you have any questions about coverage or our plans, contact our customer care unit at (212) 262-8922 or customercare@isoa.org.

Where Can I Find Out More?

  • For rates of demographics contracting and being affected by the disease, click here.
  • For information on symptoms, click here.
  • For additional ways to protect yourself and prevent exposure, click here.
  • For tips on what to do when you are sick, click here.
  • Be sure to keep up with your school’s daily updates, as many send daily emails to students or update their websites with any announcements for their student population to know.
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