I had my second bout of Covid last week. Thankfully, my case was mild and I just had a sore throat and congestion. I did have several friends reach out to share that their recent experiences were flu-like symptoms that lasted several days. The person who gave it to me caught it for their very first time, and 12 days after his positive test, he is still not feeling 100%. Be careful out there, friends, because you still never know how it’s going to affect you. Stay safe, take precautions!
I knew the guidelines had changed in recent months, but wasn’t quite sure what they are now, so I had to do some research on what to do. For anyone else who may not be totally up to speed, Yahoo has a compilation of what to do if you have Covid or are exposed to it, based on the CDC guidelines.
What to do if you test positive: While protocols have changed slightly since the pandemic began, there are still recommendations in place around testing positive for COVID-19. If you do test positive, you should stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in your home, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When to start the timeline: Day zero is the first day you develop symptoms, the CDC points out. If you had no symptoms but tested positive, day zero is the day you took the test — but you revert back to day zero if you later develop symptoms.
Isolate: The CDC recommends that you stay home and try to stay away from others as much as possible, even using a separate bathroom if you can. It’s also a good idea to avoid sharing personal items like cups, towels and utensils; if you need to be around others, wear a high-quality mask.
Seriously, stay home: While some people will dismiss their symptoms as a cold, it’s best to stay home from work, school and any of your other usual activities, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “You should recuse yourself,” he says. “You really don’t want to expose other people. You don’t know if your co-workers have diabetes or other high-risk conditions, or if they have someone at home who is in a high-risk group. Just shelter at home.”
When to leave isolation You can leave isolation after day five if you’ve had no symptoms or if you had symptoms but have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, the CDC says. But if your symptoms haven’t gotten better by day five, the CDC recommends continuing to isolate until you’re fever-free for 24 hours without medication or your symptoms start to get better. From there, it’s recommended that you wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask indoors until at least day 11 and that you avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. “Don’t go visiting your grandparents during this time,” Schaffner says.
If you need to leave isolation during the five-day period (which, again, isn’t recommended), Schaffner says it’s important to wear a high-quality mask and to try to avoid others as much as possible. “If you need to get groceries and no one else can get them for you, wear that mask and go at a time when there are fewer people at the store — early morning or late in the evening,” he says.
What to do if you’re high-risk: If you’re in a high-risk category (the CDC has a full breakdown of medical conditions that would classify you that way), it’s a good idea to call your doctor about getting on an antiviral medication like Paxlovid, infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. “Paxlovid should be prescribed to high-risk persons within five days of symptom onset,” he says. “If Paxlovid is unable to be given, molnupiravir [antiviral medications] should be prescribed.”
Schaffner suggests testing more often if you’re in a high-risk group. “If you’re exposed and you’re high-risk, I recommend testing yourself starting from about day three after the exposure and testing on days four, five and six, if you can,” he says. If you get a positive test result, isolate and call your doctor about taking an antiviral medication.
What to do if you’ve been exposed: The CDC recommends that you start taking precautions immediately. That includes wearing a high-quality mask any time you’re around others inside your home or indoors in public and avoiding places where you can’t wear a mask indoors. You’ll also want to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested for the virus. The CDC recommends testing yourself on day six if you didn’t develop symptoms, but continuing to wear a mask for 10 days, even if the results are negative.
If someone you know has tested positive: Your friend should be isolating if they tested positive for COVID-19, Schaffner says, and you don’t want to risk exposing yourself and getting sick. If you want to help them by bringing them groceries or food, he says that’s not a problem — just leave it outside their door instead of going into their home.
Get vaccinated: “Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to lower your risk of serious complications if you happen to get infected,” he says.
So there you have it. After three-and-a-half-years, a lot of this is common sense at this point. The CDC just approved a new booster, which I was going to get during my yearly physical next week, but I guess now I’ll wait until I’m eligible again. Although a lot of people seem to not be taking Covid seriously anymore, I do appreciate how most of us barely bat an eye nowadays when we see people wearing masks in everyday life. I’ve been wearing a mask while leaving the house for the past few days and never once felt out of place or uncomfortable.
I have experienced a brand new symptom that I did not have before: I’ve lost my sense of smell. It’s been weird, especially because when I cleaned my bathroom with bleach on Monday so my husband could use it again, his first reaction was to gag at how powerful it was. I never smelt it at all! I thought he was messing with me until I realized on Tuesday morning that I couldn’t smell my coffee. It’s so weird because I can still generally taste things! Anyone else having lingering symptoms this time around? Ah, Covid is crazy.
photos credit: Anna Shvets, Edward Jenner and Cottonbro on Pexels