I was in the emergency department throughout the first several waves of COVID, and especially during the first one, I witnessed the struggle to diagnose COVID accurately and rapidly in patients. Unfortunately, COVID is here to stay, as we have clearly seen with the recent surges of multiple new variants. It is important that we keep ourselves and our communities informed with the most up-to-date information from medical experts and health organizations. Here is what you need to know about COVID now—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
COVID-19 Infections Lasting Past CDC Recommended Isolation Periods
The first thing you should know about COVID-19 right now is that the virus is lingering for some of those who test positive. The CDC recommends an isolation period of five days from when you first test positive, however many people are testing positive even after the five days and in some cases, even after 10 days – double the recommended isolation period.
New Omicron Variant Is Hitting The U.S. Hard
The second thing people should know about COVID-19 right now is that there are two new strains of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5 which are leading to new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. The symptoms of these variants appear to affect the upper respiratory system, similar to previous Omicron strains.
Common Symptoms of the BA.4 and BA.5 Variant
Symptoms may include a runny nose, sore throat, congestion, and other cold-like symptoms but it is also important to keep in mind that you can be asymptomatic, which is why regular testing along with standard health practices, such as wearing a mask and sanitizing frequently, are highly recommended. Lastly, keep in mind that some people can get pretty sick and end up in bed for a week or even having to be admitted to the hospital.
Pre-Departure Testing For Entrance To The U.S. Lifted
Another thing people should know about COVID-19 right now is that the US recently lifted the pre-departure testing requirement for international travelers. This means that international travelers coming into the US will no longer have to show a negative test result before boarding a plane and entering the United States.This requirement has been installed since the early days on the pandemic and professionals in the travel and tourism industry have longed called for the removal of this requirement in hopes to increase travel. This change will bring many benefits socially, psychologically and economically, but it has the potential to bring some downsides as well through increased viral spread. Incidence of the Omicron variants has increased significantly over the last few weeks, and multiple mutations now appear to both last longer and be more transmissible, resulting in greater hospitalizations and more self-quarantining. Increased personal vigilance is called for when we see spikes like we are now experiencing in many parts of the country.
The best thing you can do, for yourself and for others, is to stay isolated until you receive a negative test result, again, even if you have completed the recommended isolation period. If you must go out, it is recommended to wear an N-95 mask and use hand sanitizer after making contact with any surface or with any other person. Consult your doctor if you continue to test positive or are concerned the test may be wrong. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
Dr. Michael Blaivas is a Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics.