COVID-19: Precautions, testing, and treatment

After living by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all learned
that the situation can rapidly change. Public health guidelines continue to
regularly evolve at the national, state, and local level as new
information about situations and variants becomes obtainable.

But in spite of of the current trends and case numbers, we all nevertheless confront a
daily risk of being exposed to the virus. Here’s a simple guide on how to
take care of the people around you and protect your health if you have been
exposed to someone with COVID-19, have symptoms, or test positive.

When to Test Yourself for COVID-19

At-home COVID-19 tests

use a swab of cells taken from your nose or throat to look for certain
proteins suggesting active COVID-19 infection. Results are usually seen in
10 – 20 minutes.

This fast turnaround, and the fact that these tests can be taken anytime
and anywhere, make them a very important resource for saving lives and
preventing spread.

You can now find at-home tests in many pharmacies. Take-home tests are
obtainable for free at many

vaccine clinics, and you can order them at no cost from the

federal government. Independence Blue Cross (Independence) also covers

up to 8 over-the-counter (OTC), FDA-approved tests per calendar month

as required by the Biden Administration.

Here are the

best situations and times

to test yourself:

• If you
have any COVID-19 symptoms, you should take an at-home test closest.

• If you’ve been
exposed to COVID-19, you should wait at the minimum five days to test yourself. If
you do it any earlier, you could nevertheless be infected already if you get a
negative consequence. If you do test negative, consider testing yourself again 1
– 2 days after your first test.

• If you’re
planning to attend an indoor event or gathering
— especially around people at high risk of harsh disease, older adults,
those who are immunocompromised, or people who haven’t been vaccinated —
it’s best to test yourself closest before the gathering or as close to the
beginning of the event as you can.

These recommendations, like many other things about COVID-19, change
frequently. So

check the CDC’s guidelines

to make sure they’re nevertheless current.

But what if you’ve been exposed, have tested positive, or are sick with
COVID-19? According to the CDC:

If you’ve been exposed, you should quarantine for at the minimum 5 days. If you’ve had a booster
shot, you don’t need to quarantine, but you should use a disguise for 10 days.
This method staying away from others outside your home.

When to Isolate

If you are sick, or have tested positive
for COVID-19, you should isolate for at the minimum 5 days. This
method avoiding contact with others, already the people you live with. It’s best to
stay in a specific “sick room” or area of your house, and use a separate
bathroom if one is obtainable.

Limited - IBX graphic - COVID-19 guidance

When to Seek Treatment

Most people infected with COVID-19 have

only mild symptoms

(like fever, cough, headache, or muscle pain), or might not have any
symptoms at all. This is especially true for those who have been

fully vaccinated and have received their booster. It’s also especially true for the

Omicron variant.

If you have only minor or no symptoms, you will probably not need any
medical consultation or care. And with the extreme stress that the pandemic
has placed on our health care system, it’s best to avoid adding to that
burden if you don’t have to.

But if you’re concerned about your symptoms or your risk of harsh disease,
make an appointment with your dominant care doctor to discuss your treatment

For high-risk patients, treatment to prevent worsening of COVID-19 symptoms
is now obtainable in the form of a pill. This FDA approved medication is
called, Paxlovid (also known as nirmatrelvir tablets; ritonavir tablets),
and is obtainable by prescription to high-risk patients, who are not
admitted to the hospital. Speak to your doctor to see if this pill is right
for you.

You may qualify for Paxlovid if you are:

• Within 5 days of experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms
• Confirmed to be COVID-19 positive via PCR or rapid antigen test
• Considered high risk for complications related to COVID-19 infection

Whether you have received Paxlovid or not, do seek emergency medical care
if you have:

• Trouble breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
• Inability to wake up or stay awake
• Inability to drink fluids
• Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds (depending on your
skin tone)

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

I can’t say this often or emphatically enough: If you haven’t been
vaccinated against COVID-19,

please do it now. If you’ve been vaccinated but haven’t gotten your booster,

please do that now. If other people in your home aren’t vaccinated and/or boosted, please
encourage them to take care of this.

According to the CDC, people who are unvaccinated are

21 times more likely to die from a COVID-19 infection

than those who have received a dominant vaccination series and a booster.
The next life the vaccines save could be your own. Or the life of one of
your parents. Or the life a friend who’s immunocompromised and can’t
assistance from the protection of the vaccine.

We don’t know what the future holds. But as long as COVID-19 keeps
spreading, some health precautions will be needed and dangerous new
variants could evolve. So to help bring this pandemic to an end, please get
vaccinated, keep getting boosters as recommended, and follow responsible
precautions — like

wearing a disguise

in appropriate situations.

This content was originally published on

IBX Insights.

About Dr. Dolores Roman

Dr. Dolores Roman joined Independence Blue Cross in 2019. As a 20-year
veteran of emergency rooms in and around the Philadelphia area, Dr. Roman
has dealt with every kind of emergency. Now as a medical director at
Independence, Dr. Roman is involved in utilization management, case
management, and quality improvement. What Dr. Roman loves most about this
job is the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in order to enhance
the health and well-being of those served by Independence Blue Cross.

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