January 8, 2021

COVID-19: The latest information

Working together with our members, patients, communities, employees, and physicians, we can combat this virus.

While the emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines brings hope, COVID-19 still poses a dangerous risk, particularly for older individuals and people of any age with underlying health conditions. The virus continues to spread around the globe and within the United States, where the number of cases has surpassed 21.5 million with more than 360,000 fatalities.

Given the recent increase in U.S. COVID-19 cases and the discovery of more contagious variants, Kaiser Permanente’s infectious disease experts and clinicians agree that avoiding unnecessary travel and in-person gatherings remains the best way to protect yourself and others, as both activities increase your chances of getting and spreading the virus. In addition to staying home, healthy behaviors — such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and keeping your distance — are still the best defense against infection. We can slow the spread of this virus, but only if we do it together.

“Our experience confronting highly infectious diseases over the last several decades has prepared us well for this pandemic,” said Kaiser Permanente national infectious disease leader Paul Thottingal, MD. “We are monitoring each local market and have expanded capabilities to quickly increase treatment space and supplies to meet the evolving demands of the pandemic.”

Kaiser Permanente’s response

We are deeply grateful to our medical teams, staff, and employees who are expertly and compassionately caring for and protecting our members, patients, communities, and each other. Here are just a few ways we’re adjusting to ensure we can provide convenient and high-quality care for our members and patients to keep everyone safe.

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Video visits per weekday

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Rx home deliveries per day

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COVID-19 diagnostic tests

4.9 million
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COVID-19 studies


Nearly half of our outpatient care visits are now conducted virtually by video or phone call. This represents an average of 40,000 video visits per weekday — and our members have rated our video visits 4.5 out of 5 stars on average.

Every day we’re filling approximately 116,000 prescriptions by mail, allowing our members to receive essential prescriptions at home. Our teams have adjusted resources and services to meet the increased mail-to-home demand, which has gone from a third of all prescriptions before the pandemic to now half of all prescriptions we dispense.

To date, we’ve administered more than 4.9 million diagnostic COVID-19 tests.

Kaiser Permanente has been part of 9 studies to improve our understanding of COVID-19 and develop tools to prevent and treat the disease, including clinical trials to determine the safety and effectiveness of 2 coronavirus vaccines.

“While we are optimistic about the new vaccines and have administered more than 94,000 doses in the first 3 weeks of their availability, it will take a long time to achieve widespread vaccination — something that is vital to ending this pandemic,” said Dr. Thottingal. “Public health measures and stay-at-home orders will remain essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19. We also strongly encourage people to get a flu shot.”

This flu season we’re expanding the use of drive-thru and outdoor vaccination clinics at many of our medical facilities, and offering flu shots for members at retail locations to make the process easy and safe for people while maintaining physical distancing. This year more than ever, it is critical that everyone 6 months or older get a flu vaccine, the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

Continue to protect yourself and others

If you are a member experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell, please call your doctor or the number on the back of your Kaiser Permanente medical card. To learn more about COVID-19 testing, the COVID-19 vaccine, or for additional guidance, please visit kp.org.

We can all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to practice healthy habits to protect yourself and others:

  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
  • Get a flu shot. This year it’s more important than ever.
  • Don’t share your air. Avoid unnecessary travel and in-person gatherings. 
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn.
  • Comply with public health orders. Local and state governments may reinstate stay-at-home orders or other restrictions with a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
  • If you or anyone in your family develops any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor.
  • Wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear a mask covering their nose and mouth when in public settings. This public health measure is in addition to physical distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, frequent hand-washing, and other everyday preventive actions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.