WHEN TO BE TESTED FOR COVID-19 AFTER EXPOSURE
Despite the exciting news that COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, it is extremely important to remember that the pandemic has not yet abated. With new cases at an all-time high, experts warn that increased interaction over the holidays will expose more people to this potentially deadly disease. What do we do after exposure and how do we know when to get tested?
“Knowing your COVID status has never been more important,” says Thompson W. Liddell, MD of Hattiesburg Clinic Infectious Diseases. “The recent changes in CDC guidance, if followed, present a new, quicker path back to life as usual. Testing remains a key component in preventing the spread of this disease to those we care about in our workplace and our community.”
The most important things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is to refrain from social gatherings and wear a mask when you are outside your home. It will also be helpful to maintain social distancing when you must interact with others and to wash your hands frequently. However, with the prevalence of this virus in our community it is likely that at some point in the coming days you may be exposed. As such, the best thing you can do is to avoid gathering with others and wear a mask when you do leave the home.
Should you receive information that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) recommend that you quarantine for 14 days from the day of your exposure even if you are showing no symptoms. During this time, watch for fever (100.4˚ F), cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms of COVID-19. Testing must occur at least 5 days after exposure and doing so can shorten your quarantine period. Options for shortening your quarantine period include a “10-day option” and a “7-day plus test option”.
10-day option: Monitor your symptoms daily for 10 days. If you have had no symptoms during the full 10-day period, you can end quarantine.
7-day plus test: If you have experienced no symptoms for 7 days and have had a negative PCR test collected on day 5,6, or 7, you can end quarantine after 7 days.
Regardless of which of these options you choose, you should continue to wear a mask in public, watch for symptoms, and social distance for the full 14-day period.
If you contracted COVID-19, it will not be safe to interact with others until:
• 10 days after symptoms first appeared, and
• You have gone 24 hours with no fever without using fever-reducing medications, and
• Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
After recovery from COVID-19 it is important to note that there have been rare instances of reinfection. Please continue to wear a face covering and social distance to prevent these events.
Hattiesburg Clinic would like to wish everyone happy and healthy holidays. Please visit our website for more information on COVID-19 and the forthcoming vaccines.