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Here are the guidelines if you test positive – NBC Chicago


COVID is on the rise in many places, including Illinois, right now, so what should you do if you test positive?

Already, rising cases and hospitalizations have led to changes in protocols for some as new strains continue to spread.

Multiple mutations of the omicron variant of COVID-19 are making their way to the United States. The Illinois Department of Public Health warned late last month that COVID cases were on the rise in the state.

Here’s what to know if you think you have COVID or have tested positive for the virus:

What are the current COVID protocols?

Isolation guidelines have not changed since May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are the protocols listed by the agency:

Regardless of your vaccination status, you should isolate yourself from others when you have COVID-19, reports the CDC.

You should also self-isolate if you are sick and think you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If your results are negative, you can end this isolation.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home for at least five days and isolate yourself from other people in your home. The CDC notes that people are “probably most infectious during those first five days.”

When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows:

If you had no symptoms:

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive result)
  • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of testing, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day symptoms first appeared.

If you had symptoms:

  • Day 0 of isolation is the day symptoms first appeared, regardless of when you tested positive.
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

Other tips for those who test positive:

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be with other people at home and in public.
  • Don’t go places where you can’t wear a mask.
  • Stay home and separate from others as much as possible.
  • Do not share personal household items, such as cups, napkins, and utensils.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (such as difficulty breathing), seek emergency medical attention immediately.

If you haven’t had any symptoms, you can end your isolation after day five, but for those with symptoms, this line may be different, the CDC notes.

Those with mild symptoms can end isolation after the fifth day if they have no fever for 24 hours, without using fever medication, but for those with more moderate or severe illnesses , they will have to wait until the 10th day.

Those with mild symptoms that do not improve should also wait until those symptoms improve and they are fever-free for 24 hours.

People with more serious illness may also want to check with their doctor before ending self-isolation and may need a virus test to end their self-isolation period.

Despite the end of isolation, those who test positive should continue to avoid people and wear a mask for at least 11 days, according to CDC guidelines.

What to know about the tests?

Those with symptoms are urged to get a COVID test as soon as possible, although authorities continue to warn that a negative test at home may not be as reliable as a positive test.

“If your antigen test is negative, do another antigen test after 48 hours or do a PCR test as soon as possible,” the CDC says.

Those without symptoms but who may have been exposed should wait five days after exposure to get tested, according to CDC guidelines.

Even though many Americans have unused tests at home, it’s important to check expiration dates, experts say.

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the expiration dates of many popular home testing products, which means some of these kits are still safe to use, CNBC reports. You can check the expiration dates for each brand on a page on the FDA website.

Public health experts have continued to urge people to get tested, especially as the numbers rise.

But beyond home testing kits, laboratory PCR tests have become harder to access — and in some cases more expensive — since the end of the national public health emergency in May.

Antigen and PCR tests are still available at major pharmacies, like Walgreens, for example, but charges may apply, depending on your insurer.

What variant of COVID is currently circulating?

EG.5 remains the predominant strain in the spread of COVID in the United States, but another new variant is emerging in some regions and raising new concerns: BA.2.86, nicknamed “Pirola”.

A newly designed version of Omicron, BA.2.86, has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein, a higher number than previously detected Omicron subvariants, according to Yale Medicine. Although cases have surfaced in the United States and five other countries, they do not appear to be linked, which is of particular concern to health officials.

Since ‘Pirola’ has so many mutations, medical experts wonder if it has the potential to evade immune defenses from both natural infection and previous vaccination, said specialist Dr Scott Roberts. of infectious diseases from Yale Medicine.

“The biggest concern has been the number of mutation differences with BA.2.86,” he said. “When we went from XBB.1.5 to EG.5, it was maybe a mutation or two, and they were expected. With every respiratory virus, as it spreads from person to person, it gradually changes over time, but these massive changes, which we also saw from Delta to Omicron, are concerning.

In a risk assessment dated Aug. 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was no evidence the variant caused more severe disease, but noted that this could potentially change over time. BA.2.86 has even been detected in wastewater, the assessment adds. Although the CDC did not specify where a sample that tested positive was collected, New York City authorities have confirmed that BA.2.86 was detected in its wastewater.

In Chicago, however, this is not the case. The Chicago Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the variant had not been found in its wastewater.

What are the symptoms associated with the latest variants of COVID?

When it comes to symptoms, much remains unknown, health officials said.

Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University, told that there is no data on symptoms associated with BA.2.86 infections because the number of cases is simply too low.

EG.5, meanwhile, also known as “Eris,” is likely more transmissible than the previously dominant XBB.1.16 variant, Yale Medicine experts say. Yale officials say EG.5 has a spike protein mutation that allows it to escape some immunity acquired during infection or vaccination, but officials don’t believe it causes disease further. serious in most cases.

It typically causes symptoms in a patient’s upper respiratory tract, including a runny nose, sore throat, and other cold-like symptoms. Fever may occur, as may changes in taste and smell.

In patients with weakened immune systems or those age 65 and older, the virus can still cause problems in the lower parts of the airways, which can lead to more serious illness.

If you think you have contracted COVID, here are some symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Alteration of smell

What can you do to treat your symptoms?

As with other strains, existing tests and drugs used to treat COVID-19 “appear effective” in treating the new strains, according to the CDC.

What about the new fall booster shots?

A new booster shot currently being formulated by Moderna, Pfizer and Novovax will specifically target the XBB.1.5 subvariant and should also boost immunity against the now-dominant EG.5, officials say.

This new booster should be available in the coming weeks, according to experts.

The Food and Drug Administration plans to greenlight updated versions of the COVID-19 recall as early as Friday, according to four people familiar with the agency’s plans.

Although the particular strain targeted by the new formulations is no longer dominant, the boosters should still offer protection against the current circulating subvariants, which are closely related, drugmakers and experts say.

Friday’s clearance schedule is not firm and could fall early next week, two of the sources said.

Should we wear a mask now?

Some US schools and businesses have already begun to reinstate mask-wearing requirements.

But in a statement to NBC Chicago, the CDC said its “advice for individual and community action around COVID-19 is tied to levels of hospital admissions, which are currently low in more than 97% of the country.” “.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has also not indicated the possibility of returning state-level masking guidelines.

Still, “masks still provide good protection,” Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of hospital epidemiology at the primary hospital, told CNBC. Intermountain children. “People at significant risk need to think again about using masks, and it’s not a terrible decision for anyone who wants to reduce their risk.”

Experts say mask-wearing is likely to be done more on a voluntary basis in the future, depending on an individual’s personal health or the activities they engage in.

“For people who have underlying health conditions that would put them at higher risk if they got COVID, or for people who are in older age brackets…these are individuals who might really want to consider starting to wear masks, and especially in crowded environments, because COVID seems to be on the rise, and these are people who, if they got COVID, they, you know, might be more likely to have a severe case,” Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territory Health Officials told NBC Chicago.


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