New data from the California Department of Public Health shows that the state’s prevalence of COVID-19 has topped 10% and is still on a steep upward trend, nearly tripling since June.
“Anecdotally, I feel like everyone I know has COVID-19,” said Dr. Errol Ozdarga, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University.
But unless your social circle has been hit by a virus recently, this wave may have taken you by surprise. The public health emergency is over, tests are hard to find, and data surveillance has largely been abandoned. But the virus is still among us, and it’s worse now than it was in May or her June.
Bay Area residents are scrambling to get things right again when a family member tests positive, or when they start feeling a tickle in their throat. What are the best recent practices for dealing with this persistent virus? What have we learned from three years of pandemic practice? We asked the experts.
question: i feel sick Is it novel coronavirus?
answer: If you’re feeling unwell, “it’s reasonable to assume it’s the novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, UCSF’s medical director.
The state’s positivity rate, one of the few indicators that help compare current virus levels to previous surges, has reached levels seen only during notable COVID-19 waves in recent years. , now suggests that the chances of you encountering a virus are: A significant increase compared to just a few weeks ago.
So if you experience symptoms like a sore throat, cough, or unusual fatigue, “get a quick check-up,” Wachter advises. “If it’s positive, you have the new coronavirus. If it’s negative, you don’t know, so you should take another (test) in a day or two,” he said.
Having two negative home tests is no green light to proceed as normal. If you don’t feel well, “it makes sense to stay at home or wear a mask because you may have an infection,” Wachter said. “It’s contagious.”
Q: I have been in contact with someone infected with the novel coronavirus. Should I take the test at home?
answer: Many families are currently dealing with this scenario. That is, someone in the house tested positive. So? “Immediate quarantine is needed to increase the chances of not getting infected,” Wachter suggests. “It’s not at all clear whether it’s contagious,” he said, citing only about a 50% domestic infection rate.
If you get infected and feel sick, you probably have COVID-19. Still, testing at home to identify the virus early is especially important for people in high-risk groups so they can get treatment.
What if you had a mild exposure but don’t feel sick? “It’s important to pay attention to the first symptoms,” says Wachter. If he doesn’t feel any symptoms, a few days after infection and a few days apart he tests negative twice, which gives some reassurance.
Q: Can I get a free COVID-19 test at home?
answer: Most of the free testing opportunities ended when the federal and state public health emergencies ended earlier this year, but some insurers still cover the cost of testing. It depends on where you live, whether you have insurance, and what kind of insurance you have.
Contact your insurance company to inquire about a free home inspection. If you end up paying for the test out of pocket at your local pharmacy, remember that it’s a good expense if you have a medical savings account.
Q: What about my pile of old COVID tests? Can I still use it?
Even if the expiration date seems to have passed, there’s probably an answer. So don’t throw it away yet.
Back in the days when you could order one for free from the federal government, many people stocked up on rapid at-home tests. Although some of these expiration dates have now passed and disappeared, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has retroactively extended expiration dates for many of the popular home tests.you can Check the FDA website for when home testing actually expires.
Q: What should I do if I have COVID-19? How long should I quarantine?
answer: The main question is whether to take paxlovid. “I think it’s the right thing to do for people who are probably over 50 or have co-morbidities,” Wachter advises. However, the drug must be taken within 5 days of the onset of symptoms.
Home testing is not necessarily the best tool for early detection of infection, but it is the best tool available for measuring infectivity. Both Wachter and Ozdarga used a negative test to mark the end of quarantine, which typically takes days to two weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 5 days of isolation for people without symptoms. Or had mild symptoms, but the symptoms are improving and there is no fever.
Q: What variants are currently in circulation?
answer: The latest powerful variants, EG.5, nicknamed Ellis, the CDC I’m watching it.
This is thought to be highly immune evasive, implying that vaccination and previous infections are less effective at preventing infection compared to other recent omicron submutants.
Luckily, Eris doesn’t seem to be all that dangerous, even if it spreads more efficiently.
Despite many people around him contracting the virus and an apparent wave of infections continuing, Ozdarga has not seen a noticeable increase in hospitalizations with the virus at Stanford University. Ta. Statewide, hospitalizations have been gradually increasing since their lows in June.
Q: When will the new vaccine be given?
answer: Only a fraction of adults in the United States have the latest information about the new coronavirus vaccine. Some health experts advise people who plan to receive new boosters to wait several months for newly formulated boosters to be developed and approved in late September or October. I advise you to consider A recalibrated booster may offer better protection against the latest variants.
Q: When will this end? When will we stop hearing about new waves of the novel coronavirus?
answer: “Never,” Wachter replied simply. “That’s a bad answer. Nobody likes that.”
Even if the virus is not eliminated, the prognosis is not bleak. The wave of COVID-19 may continue to ebb and flow, but due to the evolution of the virus, the annual vaccination schedule, and the high level of immunity of the population, the novel coronavirus is likely It’s more like the common cold and flu we’re used to. the risks it poses.
“People simply aren’t that sick,” says Ozdarga.