by Jonathan Dickman, MD, PhD
As we approach a half of a year of working from home, distance learning and Zoom meetings, many people have become weary of hearing about COVID-19. Some people have questioned the importance of following public health recommendations as the pandemic continues.
Despite people’s understandable fatigue with COVID-19 guidelines, the rate of infection remains higher than desired, making recommendations to wear masks in public, maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet and practicing good hand hygiene as important now as they were when COVID-19 first came to the West End. Since people can feel perfectly normal when infected, we still recommend taking these precautions even if you do not feel sick. Some people have asked if having a recent negative COVID-19 test could provide reassurance about visiting grandparents. Unfortunately, because the test is not perfect, this is not recommended. The ongoing recommendation is to take precautions whenever you are with others, no matter how you feel.
If you are sick, but do not require medical help, the top priority is to self-quarantine at home for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. After 10 days, you can return to previous activity if you have not had a fever for 24 hours (without using fever reducing medications) and your symptoms are improving. Symptoms of COVID-19 infection vary, but can include cough, fever, muscle aches, loss of smell, change in taste and loose stools. You can choose to get tested for COVID-19 infection, but if your symptoms are worrisome for this viral infection, you will still be recommended to quarantine even if the test is negative.
Until we have a COVID-19 vaccine (which could be available as early as Spring 2021), we must continue take extra precautions to keep our community safe. You can also protect yourself from severe disease from COVID-19 by making sure your vaccinations are up to date and your medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are well controlled. In addition, regular exercise is also likely protective. If you have questions, contact your medical provider about how you can continue to stay safe this Fall.