Treating COVID-19

A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


  • Antiviral treatments: who should use them and how do they get them
  • Why other health and safety measures are still important

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

This week, New Haven county’s Community Level for COVID-19, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), remains low. While numbers of new infections both on campus and in the wider community are rising, there has not been an equivalent increase in hospitalization rates, which are factored into the CDC’s calculation of Community Levels as important indicators of the prevalence of severe infection. Vaccination—including receiving boosters when eligible—remains the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization. As such, it is likely that high rates of vaccination have been critical in keeping cases of serious illness and hospitalizations relatively low, even as infections rise.

A recent addition to our tools to combat the serious effects of COVID-19 is the use of oral antiviral treatments for those who become infected with COVID-19 and are at increased risk of severe illness. Earlier this week, the White House announced its intention to greatly increase awareness of and access to these treatments. In this week’s message, I will provide a brief overview of who is eligible for these treatments and how they can be obtained.

Who should use antiviral treatments, and when?

As I have written previously, antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are generally intended for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at increased risk for severe illness. It is important to know that antiviral treatments should begin within five days after the onset of symptoms and must be prescribed by a doctor.

The CDC has recently released a fact sheet with more information about the treatments that are currently recommended. You can also find a “COVID-19 Tool Kit” with links to resources for tests, treatments, vaccines, and free masks at

How will I know if I need an antiviral treatment?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are an older adult or may be at high risk of becoming seriously ill, you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible, even if you do not have symptoms. Your provider will determine if you are eligible for antiviral treatment and prescribe it if indicated.

Alternatively, you may visit one of the recently created Test-to-Treat sites where you can receive COVID-19 testing, a consult with a medical provider, and, if indicated, free antiviral medication—all in one location.

Are other health and safety measures still important?

Antiviral treatments reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for those who are already infected with COVID-19. As such, they supplement, rather than replace, measures that prevent infection in the first place. These prevention measures are particularly important when rates of COVID-19 infection are high or increasing. They include wearing a high quality, well-fitting mask in certain settings and thinking carefully about attending gatherings, especially when they are indoors and attendees are unmasked. Consult Safer Yale Practices for more detailed advice.

The advancements in prevention and treatment of severe illness from COVID-19 in the past two years are truly remarkable. These tools continue to help us return to many of the activities and events that make up the vibrant life of our campus. I hope that my messages help you to stay informed of the ways we can protect ourselves and others. As always, thank you for your efforts to keep our campus as safe as possible.

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator