It’s a typical weekday morning and everyone in the house is up and moving – and it happens. The dreaded cough, sniffle or sneeze. It’s nearing cold and flu season, but COVID-19 is in full swing due to the Delta variant.
If it’s you, don’t go to work. If it’s your child, don’t send them to school. Don’t pass it off as the common cold.
“It could be COVID-19,” Dr. David Basel, vice president for Avera Medical Group Clinical Quality, said. Even if you’re vaccinated, it could be a breakthrough case.
Symptoms of concern include:
Fever – 100.4 degrees or higher – or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Runny nose or congestion
Diarrhea and/or nausea
Loss of sense of taste or smell
“Find out for sure before you risk exposing others,” Basel said. “The Delta variant is what’s going around, and it’s highly contagious. It’s estimated that anyone who gets it infects an average of five to nine people.”
COVID-19 tests are widely available at clinics – by appointment – and pharmacies. Tests are covered by most health insurance plans. You can check on your coverage by calling the number on the back of your insurance card.
Results are usually available in 24 hours, although that may depend on how busy the clinic or pharmacy is.
Recommended tests include the PCR – polymerase chain reaction – molecular test or the four-plex test which tests for COVID-19, influenza A, influenza B and RSV using only one swab.
Isolate or Quarantine?
If the test is positive for COVID-19, the person with the illness should isolate at home until:
It’s been 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
You should also follow any additional guidelines set by your workplace or school.
Anyone in the family who is exposed but not ill should also follow quarantine guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure results if you’ve been within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.
If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine but should get tested three to five days after exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms, and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until a test result is negative.
If you are not vaccinated and exposed, you should stay home for 10 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19 and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.