WHAT PHYSICIANS NEED TO KNOW (updated Oct. 22, 2021)

Get up-to-date information on what you need to know, vaccine resources and guidance, financial resources for your practice, and more.

COVID-19 Vaccine
Practice Viability in the Wake of COVID-19
     Financial Resources for Your Practice (Updated Oct. 4, 2021)
     Human Resources
     Additional Resources
PPE (Updated -- Sept. 27, 2021)
Testing (Updated -- Oct. 4, 2021)
Contact Tracing
Vaccines During COVID-19
Disaster Preparedness and COVID-19
Physician Wellness and COVID-19
What Members Need to Know
What Patients Need to Know
     Get the Facts Get the Vaccine
Venturing Out?

COVID-19 Vaccine


Vaccine Information (FDA)

Practice Viability in the Wake of COVID-19

    PPE (Updated Sept. 27, 2021)


    • Treatment

    Contact Tracing (Updated Oct. 22, 2020)

    As physicians, you play an important role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. One essential tool is contact tracing. This begins with a positive test.  

    • Physicians are encouraged to advise their COVID-19 positive patients to contact the local health departments to start the contact tracing process. Patients will be much more likely to respond positively to a request from their physician than an unknown individual calling from the health department.
    • Patients can call the Harris County Public Health at 832-927-7575 or the Houston Health Department at 832-393-4220.
    • If a patient does not call, the local health departments will reach out to the individual after the health department receives a report of their positive test.
    • Patients should make a list of those individuals with whom they have had close contact starting from 48 hours before illness onset or 48 hours prior to positive test for asymptomatic patients.
      • Close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
      • The CDC does not recommend differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings.
      • However, considerations should be taken if one or more of the individuals wore a N95 respirator.
    • Those who have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive person should stay at home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from last date of exposure. 

    Additional Resources
    Harris County Public Health Contact Tracing
    CDC Guidance for Contact Tracing
    COVID-19 Contact Tracing Starts with You in the Exam Room -- TMA

    Vaccines During COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused healthcare providers to change how they operate to continue providing essential to patients. Ensuring immunizations services are maintained or reinitiated is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks and reducing the burden of respiratory illness during the upcoming influenza season.

    Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic --CDC
    Schedule Changes & Guidance -- CDC

    Disaster Preparedness and COVID-19

    HCMS has developed a Disaster Preparedness guide that outlines the steps for developing a crisis plan and connects you with the appropriate government agencies and health organizations for additional needed resources and information.   
    For further assistance with disaster preparedness:

    Physician Wellness and COVID-19

    HCMS Physician Wellness Program can get you connected to psychiatrists and psychologists who can provide needed help. Call HCMS at 713-524-4267 and ask for the Physician Wellness Program. This program is not a solution for emergencies. If you’re thinking about suicide, or are worried about a colleague, call 911 or your local emergency department.


    Additional Resources

    Hotels with special rates for HCMS physicians and their staff (updated April 7, 2020)
    COVID-19 Personal Resources HCMS has gathered together a list of resources to help physicians meet their personal needs, as they deal with the challenges of COVID-19.  These resources range from free dry cleaning services to free tutoring for kids. 


    Postponed Events:

    • Business Expo - 2021 date TBD.

    Favorite Healthcare Staffing
    • Favorite Healthcare staffing is prepared to assist facilities facing increased patient census due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • All specialties of Registered Nurses, LPNs, CNAs, and Advanced Practice professionals
      • Respiratory therapists, case managers, social workers. and other Allied Health professionals
      • Non-clinical staff including environmental services and materials associates


    Get the facts, get the vaccine

    What do I need to know about the COVID-19 Vaccine?

    Vaccines are one of the tools we have to fight the COVID-19 pandemic:




    • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available are very effective at preventing the disease, especially severe cases requiring hospitalization.
    • You are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible (all Texans ages 12+ are eligible; 18+ for certain vaccines).

    We all play a part in this effort, and you are key. Vaccines supplies are increasing, and tens of thousands of Houstonians are getting vaccinated each and every week. 

    There several places where you can register to get the vaccine. Click here to get a list of vaccine providers.

    COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheets

    Common questions about the vaccine

    Additional Videos

    Additional Resources to learn more about the vaccines that are available to you

    How Is COVID-19 spread?

    It is primarily spread from person-to-person through:



    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    It is an upper respiratory illness that causes the following symptoms. It can take as little as two days, or as long as 14 days for symptoms to appear.
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell

    The list is not all possible symptoms.  Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
    A significant portion of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

    What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

    Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.  COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.  Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm diagnosis.  For more information on similarities and differences, visit the CDC's website

    What should you do if you are exposed to COVID-19?

    Be informed and know your next steps.

    The Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force has created a decision tree to help people understand what to do after they have been exposed to COVID-19.Learn what to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19

    Venturing out?

    With businesses reopening, you might be looking for ways to resume daily activities. Here are some things to consider:


    Delta Variant FAQs
    The Texas DSHS has created frequently asked questions about the variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant.  Click here.

    For Questions, Contact Your Local Health Department

    For Houston residents:

    832-393-4220 - Houston Health Dept COVID-19 Call Center (Weekdays, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.)

    For residents outside the city limits:
    832-927-7575 - Harris County Public Health COVID-19 Call Center (Daily, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.)

    How Can You Help? Give Blood Today

    In order to maintain an adequate blood supply, healthy and well people should donate regularly.  If you want to be a blood donor, contact the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to set up an appointment at a facility near you.