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Health Concerns

Updated 5/1/2020

About the Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is the most up to date source for information on the coronavirus and the current spread domestically and globally. 

1. How is Northwestern protecting the NU community?

NUHS and several other campus partners are following the CDC guidelines on screening and response protocols. Targeted outreach is already underway, and ongoing informational measures will be issued as the outbreak unfolds. The University also has increased the cleaning of common areas around campus.

Northwestern has a pandemic plan and is refining details for the current situation. Environmental Health and Safety has developed Procedures for Protecting Essential Employees (see below for more information on face coverings). (Updated 4/24/20)

Student Health

2. Will Aetna Student Health Insurance cover COVID-19 testing and treatment?

As of March 12, Aetna Student Health members will have access to the following resources:

  • Aetna will waive deductible/co-insurance for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location.
  • For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Cost sharing will be waived for all video visits through the CVS MinuteClinic app, Aetna-covered Teladoc offerings and in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care (live video-conferencing) for the NU-SHIP. Please note we highly encourage students to utilize Northwestern University Health Service (NUHS) prior to utilizing the telemedicine service. These services should be utilized if NUHS has no availability or you are residing out of state. 
  • Through Aetna's Healing Better program, members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive a care package containing CVS over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms. The package will also include personal and household cleaning supplies to help keep others in the home protected from potential exposure.
  • Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.
  • Aetna is extending its Medicare Advantage virtual evaluation and monitoring visit benefit to all Aetna members as a fully-covered benefit. This offering will empower members with other conditions that need follow-up care to engage with providers without the concern of sitting in a physician's office and risking potential exposure to COVID-19.

Additionally, CVS Health is implementing the following programs to educate members about COVID-19 and help address any associated anxiety and stress:

  • Crisis Response Lines will be opened for all Aetna members who may be experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.
  • Aetna members will have expanded 24x7 access to the Aetna Nurse Medical Line.
  • A Resources for Living toolkit, with materials specifically developed for members experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19, will be provided to members.

For more information or to access these resources please reach out to Aetna Student Health at 877-626-2314. (Added 4/7/20)

3. If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, who should I notify?

Students: If you have a confirmed positive test for COVID-19, contact Northwestern Health Service (NUHS) at 847-491-8100 for further instructions. See the student housing page for additional information for students living in campus residences.


Face Covering Order

As of May 1, all Illinois residents are required to wear masks or face coverings in public places and in situations where they are unable to follow social distancing guidelines. The order, issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker, applies to all individuals on Northwestern’s Evanston and Chicago campuses, including faculty, staff, students, contractors and visitors whenever appropriate social distancing of at least six feet cannot be accomplished. This may occur when in elevators, common areas, lobbies or in densely-populated office areas.

General questions about face coverings are answered below, and additional Face Covering FAQs are available for download. Environmental Health and Safety has provided information on Northwestern’ s position on respiratory protection and the use of face covering cloths(Updated 5/1/20)

4. What is a face covering, anyway?

It is any type of cloth that covers your nose and mouth, including non-medical grade masks, homemade masks, scarves, bandanas or handkerchiefs. (Added 4/22/20)

5. What respiratory protection is reserved for our health care workers, medical providers and emergency responders?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommend reserving medical grade masks and N-95 respirators for these individuals. (Added 4/22/20)

6. Will the University provide me a face covering?

All essential employees will be provided an adequate supply of face coverings. (Added 4/22/20)