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Free telehealth resources available for Kentuckians, Hoosiers who catch COVID-19 or the flu

A representation of the flu virus at a microscopic level. A blue sphere covered in protruding spikes with blunt tops.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
/
public domain
This is a computer-generated representation of the flu virus.

Adults in Kentucky and Southern Indiana can get treated for COVID-19 or influenza without leaving their home, thanks to an expanded federal initiative.

The Home Test to Treat program recently went nationwide. It offers no-cost health services that could come in handy during the current flu season.

Kentucky currently has elevated levels of COVID-19 and flu cases and related hospital admissions, although state data show overall numbers for both are declining from recent spikes.

The trends are similar for Jefferson County.

Across Indiana, government data show moderate levels of flu-like illness, meaning cases where a patient has a fever and a cough or sore throat. And they show fewer COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions than there were earlier this month.

Dr. Kris Bryant, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness’ associate medical director, said any adult who tests positive for COVID-19 or the flu is eligible for the Home Test to Treat program.

“They hook you up with a telehealth care provider,” she said. “They don't ask for your insurance information. They don't ask for payment.”

People can arrange a telehealth appointment to get a medical evaluation and then have any necessary medication for their illness shipped to their home or a nearby pharmacy for free.

Bryant recommends folks act quickly once they become sick because the medications are most effective if taken within the first few days.

Adults who aren’t currently sick still can sign up for the Home Test to Treat program if they:

  • Are uninsured or underinsured. 
  • Receive Medicare or Medicaid coverage.
  • Get care through the Veterans Affairs or Indian Health Service systems.

People who meet those requirements can get tests that can detect both the flu and COVID-19 sent to their home at no cost. And they’ll receive the program’s free telehealth and treatment services if they become ill.

Beyond the Home Test to Treat initiative, Bryant recommends people take advantage of the safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 and the flu, which are available for anyone six months or older.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated. I think that’s my number one message,” she said. “We are still seeing these viral illnesses circulating.”

She said state data show only 17% of people in Jefferson County have gotten the coronavirus booster that was released last fall.

“Both COVID-19 and flu vaccines reduce severe complications, so they reduce the chance that you'll get admitted to the hospital,” she said.

And Bryant said it can be difficult to predict who will get severely sick.

“I think some parents don't know that healthy kids can get really sick from the flu,” she said. “If we look at kids who are hospitalized with flu, about half of them have no underlying medical condition.”

Louisville’s public health department has a COVID-19 help line people can call at 502-574-8207, where they can learn more about the Home Test to Treat program and other available resources.

The department also lists information online about local coronavirus testing and vaccination opportunities.

Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.