Free COVID-19 telehealth program ends this week

Program was created to help patients quickly access antiviral treatments like Paxlovid that can reduce risk of severe disease


A free telehealth program created to provide quicker access to COVID-19 treatment will end on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 treatment telehealth program through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services offered virtual visits for adults to quickly access a prescription for an antiviral treatment like Paxlovid. The drugs are  effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, but must be taken within five days of the start of COVID-19 symptoms.

DHS said in a press release the program was extended in December because of the high number of COVID-19 cases circulating at the time. The latest state report shows the virus is now at low levels and transmission is declining.

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Since November 2022, the state telehealth program provided more than 8,800 consults with patients and providers looking for guidance on prescribing the treatment.

DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge said in a statement the state believes the program was a success, especially at serving older adults and people living in rural communities.

“As the program ends, we urge Wisconsinites to remember COVID-19 has not gone away,” Standridge said in the statement. “We now have better tools to protect, prevent, and ensure access to COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment through your health care provider, community clinic, or pharmacy.”

DHS said after April 10, residents will still be able to access antiviral treatments through their health care provider, community clinics or pharmacies.

Patients with Medicare and Medicaid or who are uninsured can receive COVID-19 treatment through the end of the year through the federal Patient Assistant Program.