COVID-19 treatments are free, widely available, and very effective. Act quickly if you have COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19.

On this page:

Facts about COVID-19 treatment

  • COVID-19 treatments are medications in the form of pills, shots, or fluids. They can help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
  • A doctor can tell you if you are eligible to receive treatment and which type is best for you.
  • Treatments must be taken within 5-7 days of the start of symptoms.
  • COVID-19 treatments are free in California. You don’t need to have insurance or be a US citizen. You must have COVID-19 symptoms and have a positive COVID-19 test result to get treatment. Learn how to get tested.
  • Treatments are safe and effective. Scientific evidence shows they can reduce the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. For example, the Paxlovid pill can reduce the risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 by up to 88%.
  • Most adults are eligible for COVID-19 treatments. Most people qualify for treatment because they meet one of the following criteria:
    • Are over 50 years old –OR–
    • Are unvaccinated for COVID-19 –OR–
    • Are over 12 years old with conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness. These include obesity, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, smoking, and mental health conditions such as depression. Learn more about medical conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. 

For more information about COVID-19 treatments and help with finding treatment, call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255.

The statewide call center is open 7 days a week:

  • Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time

When to get treatment

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, seek treatment right away. Treatment works best if started right after symptoms start. Treatment must be taken within 5-7 days of the start of symptoms. Do not wait for symptoms to get worse.

If you have severe COVID-19 symptoms including trouble breathing, chest pain, confusion, or trouble staying awake, go to the emergency room or call 911 right away.

Isolate (stay home and avoid others) until the threat of infecting other people has passed. Read about how long to isolate.

Notify people you have been in contact with so they can get tested too. Send an exposure notification through CA Notify.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, but haven’t tested positive yet

Vaccinated or not, get tested immediately if you’re feeling any COVID-19 symptoms. You must have a positive COVID-19 test result to get treatment. You also don’t want to accidentally expose others to COVID-19 because you didn’t know you had the virus.

You have many options for getting a COVID-19 test:

  • Use an at-home test. Kits are available at most pharmacies without a prescription. 
  • Locate a testing site near you. Some testing sites can also help you get COVID-19 treatments. Learn how to get tested.

If your test is negative but you continue to have symptoms, test again 24-48 hours later. Low amounts of virus early in infection can be missed, and the test can be positive a few days later.

How to find treatment

If you test positive for COVID-19, act quickly. COVID-19 treatments must be taken within 5-7 days of the start of symptoms to work well.

You have several options to find out if you are eligible and receive free treatment:

  • Contact your doctor. If you have insurance, you can call the number on your insurance card to get help with making an appointment.
  • Find a Test-to-Treat location near you. To find a site, call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255 or use the COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator.
  • If you don’t have insurance or the options above don’t work, you can:
    • Make a phone or video appointment through California’s free telehealth provider. Call 833-686-5051 or click here -OR-
    • Visit an Optum Serve location, which can offer both a free test and a free telehealth provider visit. You can also pick up medication at the Optum Serve location.

More information about COVID-19 treatment

Learn more about COVID-19 treatment from the following resources.