If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.

On this page you will find:

Why to only use approved treatments

Only use treatments for COVID-19 prescribed by your healthcare provider. Unapproved treatments can cause serious harm or even death.

Drugs approved for use

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug  to treat COVID-19: remdesivir (Veklury).
  • The FDA has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs). These let healthcare providers use products that are not yet approved. Some drugs approved for other uses are also permitted to treat COVID-19. But certain requirements must be met.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines. These help COVID-19 healthcare providers understand how to use available drugs.

Treatment outside the hospital

If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19 and are likely to get sick, your doctor may recommend you get treatment.

For high-risk patients

For people at high risk of getting very sick, the FDA has issued EUAs for a few monoclonal antibody treatments. Available options are bamlanivimab and etesevimab administered together and casirivimab and imdevimab. These attach to parts of the virus, helping the immune system recognize and respond to it. If used, they should be given as soon as possible, or within 10 days of the beginning of symptoms.

NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines recommend the use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab administered together for the treatment of outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of clinical progression. It also says there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against casirivimab and imdevimab.

These treatments are available at designated distribution locations. They are also available at many long-term care facilities in California.

For low-risk patients

If you’re generally healthy, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever
  • Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated
  • Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus

Treatment in the hospital

Your healthcare provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. Some drugs have reduced the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:

  • Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications slow down the virus multiplying and spreading through the body.
    • Remdesivir (Veklury) is an antiviral medication approved by FDA to treat COVID-19. NIH guidelines recommend remdesivir for certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients.  It is given to patients by IV.
  • Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.
    • Dexamethasone is a steroid medication. It acts like a natural hormone produced by the body, and can prevent or reduce injury. NIH guidelines recommend dexamethasone for some patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.
  • Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It can also cause other complications. Depending on the situation, more treatments might be needed, such as blood thinners for blood clots.
  • Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can contain antibodies to the virus. This may help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus. But currently, NIH guidelines do not recommend plasma treatment.

What to do if you’re sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might be, life can’t go on as usual. You must care for yourself and protect other people in your home and community. 

Follow these steps:

  • Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 will only have a mild illness. You can likely recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get treatment. Do not visit public areas. Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you seek medical care. Get care if you have trouble breathing or have any other emergency warning signs.

If you have these emergency warning signs, call 911.

Emergency warning signs of COVID-19

Difficulty breathing
Pressure or pain in chest
Bluish lips or face
Confused or hard to wake
Other serious symptoms

Questions and answers

Stay informed