COVID-19 coding: What you need to know

Published on: 
Medical Economics Journal, June 2020 Edition, Volume 97, Issue 10

These are the COVID-19 ICD-10 codes physicians need to know, accurate as of CDC's April 1, 2020 update.

On April 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated ICD-10 coding guidance as follows when it comes to coding for COVID-19.

Here is the latest coding guidance:

Codes for diagnosing COVID-19 (April 1, 2020 - September 30, 2020)

For diagnosis coding consider the following:

  • For confirmed COVID-19 Diagnosis: U07.1

Use additional code to identify pneumonia or other manifestations. i.e:

  • Pneumonia confirmed as due to COVID-19: U07.1 (COVID-19) AND J12.89 (Other viral pneumonia)

Additional manifestation codes:

  • Acute bronchitis: J20.8 or J.40 if unspecified bronchitis
  • Lower Respiratory infection: J22
  • Respiratory infection NOS: J98.8
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): J80

Additional coronavirus codes not due to COVID-19:

  • Coronavirus infection, unspecified: B34.2
  • Coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere: B97.2-
  • Pneumonia due to SARS associated coronavirus: J12.81

If COVID-19 is not confirmed or if testing is negative, the following encounter codes should be used:

  • Encounter for observation for suspected exposure to other viral communicable diseases (Possible Exposure to COVID-19 ruled out): Z03.818
  • Contact with and suspected exposure to person to other viral communicable disease (Contact with COVID-19, Suspected exposure: Z20.828
  • Encounter for screening for other viral diseases, Asymptomatic, no known exposure, results unknown or negative: Z11.59

The guidelines were very specific in their choice of code sets and sequence of codes. Please make certain that your codes, and coding resources, are up to date.

In-depth resources from the CDC

ICD-10-CM Official Coding and Reporting Guidelines April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 

ICD-10-CM Tabular List of Diseases and Injuries April 1, 2020 Addenda 

Bill Dacey, MHA,MBA, CPC, is principal in The Dacey Group, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to coding, billing, documentation, and compliance concerns for physicians. Dacey is a AAPC-certified coding instructor and has been active in physician training for more than 25 years. He can be reached at