A leading health plan that serves mostly seniors is advising its members to take special precautions against the COVID-19 Delta variant as the elderly are more vulnerable than the general population of contracting and suffering from its effects. Brand New Day, a Medicare Advantage prescription health plan available in 16 California counties, is making its recommendations in light of the rapid speed at which the new strain is spreading (CDC reports it went from nonexistent to making up the majority of new COVID-19 cases in a matter of a few months) combined with the fact it’s more contagious and potentially more deadly than its predecessor.
“The COVID-19 virus has mutated to its present Delta variant form, which is more contagious and potentially lethal than its previous incarnation,” says gerontologist Michael Tehrani, M.D., a board-certified internist at Brand New Day,, who shared the latest CDC data finding that in some areas of the country, the Delta variant is responsible for nearly 75% of new infections. “Therefore, we must take additional precautions to prevent its spread. First and foremost, getting both doses of the vaccine is necessary.”
He points to a recent study from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that says taking both doses of the Pfizer vaccine is about 80% effective at preventing infection from the Delta variant, 88% effective at preventing symptomatic disease and 96% effective at preventing hospitalization caused by the variant.
“In addition to getting fully vaccinated, wearing protective face coverings when at indoor public spaces and avoiding crowds altogether are good general safety measures to follow, at least until we get this pandemic under control,” advises Tehrani. "But for immunocompromised seniors or those taking medications that weaken their systems, following these steps is critical and could even mean the difference between lie and death.”
So how do you know if you may have contracted the Delta variant rather than COVID-19?
“The symptoms are different between the two,” explains Tehrani. “With the Delta variant, you might feel as if you’re coming down with a cold so you might be suffering headaches, a runny nose and sore throat while typical COVID-19 symptoms include loss of smell, shortness of breath, fever and persistent cough.”
Brand New Day offers a number of specialty plans in addition to its standard Medicare plan. They include the Embrace Plan for members with heart disease, hypertension and/or diabetes; Bridges Plan for members with dementia and Alzheimer’s; SelectCare Plan for members residing in community living, assisted living, long-term care and nursing homes; and Harmony Plan for members with mental illness including major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and paranoid disorder.
For qualifying members, the plans cover transportation to and from medical appointments; vision, dental and hearing aids; 24-hour/day nurse and physician line; and health nurses and life coaches. In addition, members with chronic illnesses are not only treated medically, but in a variety of other ways including education about the member’s chronic or ongoing medical conditions and avoidable risks, nutrition, exercise, self-testing and monitoring, medication adherence to doctor orders, preventive care planning and linkage to community support programs.
Brand New Day's personalized approach is designed to keep its members healthy and independent and its team of caring healthcare professionals share one common goal -- to improve the overall well-being of each member by offering members "healthcare you can feel good about."
For more information about Brand New Day, visit BNDHMO.com or call (866) 255-4795.