With case levels near or at record highs and positivity rates across Michigan, the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 may be higher now than at any time during the pandemic.
Even people who have warded off illness for months, almost years, see outbreaks in their own homes.
Doctors and health professionals are urging anyone with signs or symptoms to get tested, even if they have been fully vaccinated or previously infected. Don’t wait, they say.
So what to do after a positive test?
Insulate first; keep away from others, even those at home, to minimize spread.
If risk factors are low – as is usually the case in young and otherwise healthy people – and symptoms are limited to coughing or shortness of breath, sequester and watch for disease progression.
There really is nothing to do for COVID-19 other than supportive care for uncomplicated cases, said Dr. Russell Lampen, head of infectious diseases at Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids.
“The same kind of thing we will do for other viral respiratory diseases,” Lampen said.
Take Tylenol or Motrin for pain or fever. Drink liquids. Rest.
Parents of COVID-positive children should watch for unusual fatigue and any type of breathing problem, said Dr. James Robertson, a pediatrician in Traverse City.
“I’d have a really short fuse to being evaluated if you’re concerned about those things,” Robertson said.
for dr. Mark Hamed, a medical director and emergency department physician in the Thumb and northeast Michigan area, is key checking for worsening symptoms. Sometimes they are subtle and can go unnoticed. People may not feel hypoxia, low oxygen levels in the blood.
He tells patients, especially those who may be smokers with lung problems, to purchase a fingertip pulse oximeter, which can cost about $15, and check the reading once or twice a day, or whenever they feel out of breath. If the finding is in the low 90s or high 80s, the patient should immediately consult or inform a doctor.
Take in good nutrition, hydrate, he said.
People at high risk of becoming seriously ill — the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart problems or obesity — should seek monoclonal antibody therapy, which uses lab-produced proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight harmful substances. fight pathogens.
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This treatment, given early, can help prevent hospitalization of unvaccinated people at high risk.
It provides short-term protection and is not a substitute for vaccination, health authorities say.
Those who test positive can safely associate with others 10 days after symptoms appear if they’ve gone 24 hours without a fever and without taking temperature-lowering medications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These recommendations do not apply to people with severe illness or a weakened immune system; they may need to stay home longer, up to 20 days from the onset of symptoms.
Close contacts must be quarantined for 14 days after their last exposure unless they are fully vaccinated, the CDC says.
Try to prevent the virus from spreading within a household, including among vaccinated members. Wear masks at home, health authorities say. Separate if possible.
“So, go the extra mile. While it may be an exaggeration, it may not be an exaggeration. We don’t know enough about the transmission to the vaccinated at this point,” Hamed said.
Robertson, the pediatrician, said his office has seen people set up basement rooms for a COVID-positive relative, leaving food at the top of the stairs.
“But not every house is designed in such a way that it is possible,” he says. “I think you can limit exposure as best you can.”
The CDC suggests using a separate bathroom if possible. Do not share personal household items, such as cups, towels and kitchen utensils.
If you are not wearing a mask, cover your mouth and nose with an elbow when coughing or sneezing. If you wear masks, cough or sneeze into them, but replace them with a clean one as soon as possible. Wash hands with soup and water immediately after coughing or sneezing.
Be liberal with hand washing, the CDC advises. Wash at obvious times, such as before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom. Also wash after touching animals or pets or changing a diaper.
Clean high-touch surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs, switches, countertops, handles, desks, telephones, toilets and faucets, on a daily basis.
Improve ventilation. Open a window in the room where an infected person is sleeping. Doctors recommend using a high-efficiency particulate air purifier, available online for about $80 or more. A warm mist humidifier is also a good idea. According to a brief Amazon check, these cost about $37 to $75. COVID particles don’t survive well in hot and humid environments, Hamed says.
COVID has proved unpredictable and sometimes deadly. Just since early November, the state reported 1,061 deaths. Hospitals are full. Waiting times for emergencies are long. Staff is stretched. On Wednesday, 4,080 adults and 58 children were hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases.
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Medical professionals much prefer to preach prevention. Get vaccinated. Use safety precautions touted from the start – wear masks in public indoor settings, away from others.
“I am a prescriber of antibiotics and antiviral drugs, and there are very few treatment options for COVID, which is why prevention is so important,” Lampen said.
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