What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus during the holidays?
As family and friends gather to celebrate Christmas, New Years, and other holidays, many people are looking for information about how long to quarantine, if at all, and for how long they can stay contagious. can be.
Take a look at guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if you test positive or think you may have been in contact with someone who is.
How soon can symptoms appear?
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus.
Anyone with symptoms should get tested for COVID.
When should you get a COVID test done?
According to the most recent guidance from the CDC, people who have been fully vaccinated and who have had COVID-19 are advised to get tested between five and seven days after their exposure, although previous Guidance was between three and five days.
People who develop symptoms should get tested as symptoms develop, but if one test is negative and symptoms persist then another test may be needed a few days later, especially for those who are at home. Use test kits.
“So if someone has symptoms and they test negative, it depends on the severity,” said Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal, associate chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine for Cook County Health. “We want you to consult your doctor. Call the office and make sure they have an opinion here because there are certainly other things like flu that can mimic symptoms or have similar symptoms. But if you have symptoms and they’re kind of mild and lethargic and you get used to [at-home] test and it’s negative, we want you to take precautions and then test again in three to five days. And that’s why most of these kits actually come with two tests.”
When is someone infected with COVID?
A person with COVID-19 is considered to be infectious starting two days before they develop symptoms or two days before the date of their positive test if they do not have symptoms.
How long should you quarantine or isolate?
First things first, people who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID and who haven’t been vaccinated should quarantine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, should be isolated.
Here’s the breakdown:
People who have been within 6 feet of someone with COVID for at least 15 minutes in total in a 24-hour period should stay home and watch for symptoms for 14 days after their last contact with that person . If possible, those in quarantine should also stay away from people they live with, especially those who are at risk of developing a more severe COVID disease.
If symptoms appear within the quarantine window, isolate immediately and contact a healthcare provider, the CDC’s guidance states.
According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to be quarantined, but they should get tested anywhere from five to seven days after coming into contact with them, regardless of symptoms.
Local health officials can also make the final determination on how long a quarantine should last. And testing can play a role.
For example, in Chicago, people who travel to or from parts of the country and have not been vaccinated must quarantine upon arrival in Chicago, but how long it takes them to do so depends on whether they get tested for COVID.
The city’s travel advice recommends people who travel through states with specified warnings:
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
- Even if your test comes negative, stay at home and self-quarantine for the entire 7 days.
- If you test positive, isolate yourself to avoid infecting others.
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travelling.
The Illinois Department of Health states that:
- Quarantine may end without tests after Day 10 and if no symptoms are reported during any day of the daily monitoring period.
- If the RT (reverse transcriptase)-PCR test is negative and no symptoms have been reported during any day of the daily monitoring period, the quarantine may end after Day 7. The earliest a sample can be collected and testing will be on Day 6, with the quarantine being closed no earlier than Day 8. However, this option is not recommended for children in daycare or K-12 schools.
“Due to the risk of serious illness and mass transmission, IDPH recommends a full 14-day quarantine period rather than the brief options described above in settings with vulnerable populations such as skilled care and correctional facilities,” the Illinois Department of Public Health said in its states on the website.
For schools, the guidance is different. In these settings, IDPH guidance states that:
- Any student or school worker who is a confirmed case or probable case, for at least 10 days following the start date if symptomatic or the date of testing positive if asymptomatic, or otherwise directed by the school’s local health authority Must stay at home.
- Any unvaccinated student or school worker who is in close contact should stay at home for at least 14 days or otherwise directed by the school’s local health authority, without testing, for 10 days such as exclusion May recommend alternatives but with a negative test result on day 6 with daily symptom check-ups or seven. As an alternative to exclusion, schools may allow close contacts who are asymptomatic to be on school premises, extra-curricular events, or any other event organized by the school, if there are both confirmed cases or probable cases and the contacts may be in contact for the entire exposure period. were masked for exposure and provided contact tests negative at 1, 3, 5 and 7 days after exposure. Individuals who have been fully vaccinated or who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days and are currently asymptomatic are not considered close contacts.
- Any student or school worker who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC should stay home until they test negative for COVID-19, or for at least 10 days, until that they are not fever free for 24 hours and 48 hours. A few hours after the diarrhea or vomiting has stopped.
According to the CDC, people who are positive for COVID should stay home until it is safe for them to be around others, including other members of their household.
Health officials recommend a “sick room” or area for infected people and, if possible, a separate bathroom.
So how do you calculate your 10-day isolation period?
According to the CDC, “Day 0 is the first day of your symptoms.” This means that the first day is the first full day after your symptoms develop.
For those who test positive for COVID but have no symptoms, Day 0 is the day of testing positive. Those who develop symptoms after testing positive should start their counts again, however, with day 0 again becoming the first day of symptoms.
When should you call the doctor?
The CDC urges people who have or may have COVID-19 to look out for emergency warning signs and seek medical care immediately if they experience symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- persistent chest pain or pressure
- new confusion
- inability to wake up or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or bluish skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
“This list does not list all possible symptoms,” the CDC states. “Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.”
You can also inform the operator that you believe you or someone you care about has COVID.
What if you test positive using an at-home test?
People who test positive using the at-home test are asked to follow the latest CDC guidelines and to report the results to their healthcare provider, who is also required to report the test results to the state health department. is responsible for.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Alison Arvadi has said that this process is unlikely to happen for every test, however.
“All those negatives are not being reported realistically,” Arvadi said. “We’re not counting, you know, it’s a fantasy that we’ve counted every COVID test ever.”
He said that although many home tests are not being reported, positive results are likely to be provided to health care providers, then to health departments.
When can you be around other people after having COVID?
If you’ve had symptoms, the CDC says you can be around others if you meet the following criteria:
- 10 days after symptoms first appear And
- 24 hours without fever, without the use of fever-reducing drugs And
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (note that loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and may not be accompanied by symptoms)
The CDC says these recommendations do not apply to people who have severe COVID-19 or a weakened immune system.
If you have tested positive but have no symptoms for the duration of your isolation, the CDC states:
- You can be with others after 10 days have passed because you had a positive viral test for COVID-19 (the date you were tested)
For people with serious illnesses or a weakened immune system, the CDC says staying home for 20 days after symptoms appear is recommended, but people in this group should talk to their healthcare provider before making a decision. needed.
“People with weakened immune systems may need testing to determine when they might be around others,” the CDC’s website states. “Speak to your healthcare provider for more information.”