Connect with us

Medical

Confused About What to Do After a COVID Test or Exposure? Start Here

Claudia Baldwin

Published

on

An updated guide to testing, quarantining, isolating and returning to work or school, depending on whether you’ve gotten vaccinated fully, partly or not at all, and your own history with COVID.

Getty Images

Updated December 28, 2021

Editor’s note: Information on the COVID-19 crisis is constantly changing. For the latest numbers and updates, keep checking the CDC’s website. For the most up-to-date information from Michigan Medicine, visit the hospital’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from grade school?

The ones where you turned to a different page, depending on what you wanted a book character to do?

If you find out you or your child has been around someone who has COVID-19, you might feel like you’re living in one of those books.

What should you do next?

And unlike the books, there’s a lot more at stake if you make the wrong choice. Plus, you can’t turn back to the page you started on.

So, here’s a simple Choose Your Own Adventure-style guide to get you through the current surge in cases, and the next few months, safely.

You can download, print and share a simple graphic version of this guide.

,

,

For full details, follow the Choose Your Own Adventure text below.

Wait! This guide doesn’t agree with what I was told before.

That’s right! Experts have learned a lot in the past year about this coronavirus, how it spreads and who’s most likely to get sick or spread it to others. And more people are getting vaccinated, which protects them from serious illness and death if they get infected. 

The guidance has also changed to reflect the more infectious nature of the Delta and Omicron variants, which are more likely to lead to infection in vaccinated people. While those infections may not cause the vaccinated person to get seriously ill, especially if they’ve received a booster dose of vaccine, they could still transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable.

So the rules about who needs to do what, after they get exposed to a person with COVID-19, have changed multiple times – most recently in late December.

And the rules apply to children and teens as well as adults. Younger people may not be as likely to get sick, but they can still spread the virus. So where we say “you” below, you can also substitute “your child or teen.”

Start here:

Scenario 1: You find out that you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 symptoms, or who tested positive for coronavirus even if they don’t have symptoms.

What counts as an exposure or close contact? A general rule of thumb is you were within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more (masked or unmasked, indoors or outdoors) during their contagious period. Even if it was a shorter encounter, but the person sneezed near you or you ate or drank from shared dishes or utensils; that counts too. Sharing enclosed spaces with such a person, especially ones that don’t have good ventilation or for prolonged times, also can be counted.

What counts as the contagious period? It starts two days before a person’s symptoms began. Or, if they have no symptoms, it started two days before the day they got tested, if their lab test (called PCR) was positive. It lasts through the end of the 10th day after their symptoms started, unless they still have a fever on the 10th day. In that case, they’re still contagious until the fever has been gone at least 24 hours, without fever-reducing drugs. Or if they have no symptoms, it lasts 10 days after the day of the lab test (PCR) that came back positive.

If this scenario describes you, and you have no symptoms right now, click here to start your “adventure.”

Scenario 2: You have symptoms that could be COVID-19, or you test positive on a rapid test or PCR test.

STAY HOME. Your “adventure” MUST include time in isolation to protect others, even if you’re vaccinated, under the new national guidance. Click here to find out what that means and when you can get out. (See Adventure 3 below.)

Your adventure begins:

What you should do now depends on your vaccination status, because of what research has shown about the power of vaccination to reduce the amount of time someone is highly contagious.

No matter what your vaccination status, tell the person at your school or work who tracks COVID-19 exposures that you had an exposure. Also tell the people you live with, and anyone you were around in the past few days, that you had an exposure. They don’t have to get tested or quarantine if you test negative. But if you test positive or develop symptoms, then they need to follow this guide, too.

If you live with someone who is at high risk of serious COVID-19: Stay distant from them, and wear a mask at home.

Choose an adventure based on your vaccination status:

Adventure 1: You’re fully vaccinated and boosted, or it’s too soon for your booster.

If you got your booster shot already, or you got your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine less than 6 months ago or your dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine less than 2 months ago, you should:

Wear a mask around other people, including people you live with, and in all public places, for 10 days. Make sure the mask fits snugly without gaps.

Five days after your exposure to the sick or COVID-positive person, get tested using a rapid home test, or go out to get a PCR test. Don’t get tested sooner than this – you may get a false negative.

You do not have to stay home in quarantine IF AND ONLY IF you remain symptom-free and your Day 5 test comes back negative. However, you may want to do a rapid test at the end of 10 days just to be sure.

STAY HOME if you develop symptoms and skip to Adventure 3 to find out what to do. 

STAY HOME if you test positive skip to Adventure 3 to find out what to do.

You should also report your exposure, and your test result, to your school or work, and to people you live with or were near recently.

If you develop symptoms or test positive at any time, anyone you were near in the two days before you took your test or started having symptoms now needs to follow the post-exposure guidance for people with their vaccination status.

You can now skip to “The final chapter” below!

Adventure 2: You were exposed and you aren’t fully vaccinated, or your vaccination was a while ago and you haven’t gotten boosted yet:

If you haven’t gotten any doses of vaccine, or you got just one dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or you haven’t gotten a booster dose yet and you got your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine more than 6 months ago or your dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago, you should:

Stay home for five days, wearing a mask around others you live with.

Five days after your exposure to the sick or COVID-positive person, get tested using a rapid home test, or go out to get a PCR test. Don’t get tested sooner than this – you may get a false negative.

After five days, you do not have to stay home in quarantine IF AND ONLY IF you remain symptom-free and your Day 5 test comes back negative. But you must wear a mask at all times for five days. Make sure the mask fits snugly without gaps.

If you absolutely can’t stay home for five days, wear a mask if you go out, for a total of 10 days of wearing a mask around others.

You may want to do a rapid test at the end of 10 days just to be sure.

STAY HOME if you develop symptoms and skip to Adventure 3 to find out what to do. 

STAY HOME if you test positive skip to Adventure 3 to find out what to do.

You should also report your exposure, and your test result, to your school or work, and to people you live with or were near recently.

If you develop symptoms or test positive at any time, anyone you were near in the two days before you took your test or started having symptoms now needs to follow the post-exposure guidance for people with their vaccination status.

You can now skip to “The final chapter” below!

Adventure 3: Your lab test comes back positive or you develop symptoms.

If you’ve got symptoms or you’ve tested positive, you MUST stay home for at least five days, no matter what your vaccination status. During this time, you should go into isolation, which means staying home in a separate room with the door closed and avoiding others, even the people you live with. It means wearing a mask to use the bathroom. It means having people leave you food, drink and medicine at your door. It means treating any symptoms you might have, such as fever and pain. And of course, it means seeking medical care if any of your symptoms become serious. See more isolation tips for you and the people you live with here.

If you have a fever, you MUST stay in isolation until the fever goes away without the aid of fever-reducing medicine. This may be longer than five days.

If you tested positive but didn’t develop symptoms within five days of the test, you can leave your house IN A MASK but you must wear a mask around others for the next five days. That will bring you to the end of the 10-day contagious period. You may want to take a rapid test at 10 days, just to be sure.

If you had symptoms but they’ve eased up after five days, and any fever you had is gone without taking medication, you can leave your house IN A MASK but you must wear a mask around others for the next five days. That will bring you to the end of the 10-day contagious period. You may want to take a rapid test just to be sure.

You might have some lingering symptoms like a reduced sense of taste or smell, but you are not likely to be contagious unless you have a compromised immune system.

You should still monitor yourself for symptoms until 14 days, and go back into isolation if they come back.

MORE FROM MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Now, choose which one of these situations applies to you, to find out what happens next:

If you’re fully vaccinated and boosted: Thank science that you probably just had a much milder case than you would have if you hadn’t been vaccinated. Encourage others to get vaccinated.

If you’re partially vaccinated or haven’t gotten a booster shot yet: Wait a week or two until you go get that second dose of a two-dose vaccine or booster shot. If you already had an appointment, you may need to delay it. Just make sure you get it.

If you haven’t started the vaccination process, now’s the time. Schedule your appointment for a week or two after your contagious period ended.

If you weren’t planning to get vaccinated, please consider doing it after all. Wait a week or two and then start the process. Talk to your doctor or a trusted medical professional if you have questions. Be wary of negative claims on social media.

If the person who tested positive or had symptoms is under age 5: Vaccination isn’t authorized for this age group yet, but once it is, it’s important to get vaccinated, even after having COVID.

Keep reading for the final chapter.

The final chapter: Life after a COVID exposure

No matter what your test result, vaccination status or COVID history, you should follow the latest mask-wearing guidance for the places you want to go.

If you are traveling, taking part in sports or large events, preparing for a medical procedure, or working or attending school in person, you may be asked or required to take antigen tests once or multiple times.

These screening tests give results in minutes and are useful for spotting undiscovered cases, but they are also much more prone to giving “false negatives.” So, getting a negative result on one of them does not give you a “free pass” to stop paying attention to COVID precautions.

If you test negative on an antigen test, but you then develop symptoms or find out that you had an exposure to a contagious person, you should get a lab test (PCR) and follow the scenario above for your vaccination status until get your results.

If you test positive on an antigen test, immediately follow up by having a lab test (PCR), and follow the guidance for your vaccination status until you get the results.

The less the virus spreads, the less chance it will have to sicken and kill people, to mutate, and to prompt new limits on schools, activities and businesses.

Public health experts will tell us when we can ease up on these practices, based on vaccination rates and case counts.

Because that’s the only way we’re going to close the book on COVID-19.

Thanks to Michigan Medicine experts Emily Somers, Ph.D., and Jonathan Golob, M.D., Ph.D., for assistance in the preparation of this story and the accompanying flowchart.

Source: healthblog.uofmhealth.org

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Medical

FDA Approves Neoadjuvant Nivolumab and Platinum-doublet Chemotherapy for Early-stage Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Claudia Baldwin

Published

on

By

FDA approves neoadjuvant nivolumab and platinum-doublet chemotherapy for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer

Original Article: fda.gov

Continue Reading

Medical

Data Standards Program Strategic Plan and Board

Claudia Baldwin

Published

on

By

The Data Standards Strategy reinforces CDER’s ongoing commitment to the development, implementation, and maintenance of a comprehensive data standards program that will facilitate the efficient and effective review of regulatory submissions. This helps bring safe and effective products to market.

Original Source: fda.gov

Continue Reading

Medical

CTTI and FDA Public Workshop on Enhancing the Incorporation of Patient Perspectives in Clinical Trials – 03/18/2019

Claudia Baldwin

Published

on

By

On March 18, 2019, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) and FDA held a public workshop, “Enhancing the Incorporation of Patient Perspectives in Clinical Trials.” This workshop met an FDA commitment that is part of the sixth authorization of PDUFA VI.

Original Post: fda.gov

Continue Reading

Trending

WVPU.com