Think You’ve Been Exposed To COVID? Get Tested, Stay Home

By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium

You wake up in the morning feeling under the weather.  In this current environment that can be a concerning awakening.

Your mind may be racing wondering could it be COVID? In most cases today this question may be the first thing that comes to people’s mind. You check your temperature. There are two outcomes either you have a temperature or not. This could be a first sign of possibly contracting COVID, what should you do?

According to the CDC and practitioners, there are several steps one should take if you are encountering symptoms of fever, a cough and or shortness of breath. If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have any emergency warning sign most notably trouble breathing, you should seek medical care immediately.

“I suggest that you get tested if you have symptoms conducive to both COVID or the flu,” say Dr. Shaquita Bell, a pediatrician practicing at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle. “The CDC and the Department of Health are recommending that in fact we test for both so that we can understand what our viral load is in the community for both of those infections.”

“So, even if it just a cough or a runny nose or just a fever we recommend getting tested for both,” adds Bell.

 Second, make the necessary arrangement to stay home. Protecting not only yourself but more importantly protecting others like your family, friends and co-workers from possibly contracting the virus. Regardless of whether it is COVID or the common flu it is important to exude a sense of empathy in protecting others.

Because of the dangers of COVID quarantine is the only initial recommendation provided by our health officials until one is tested to confirm a negative or positive outcome and to get ahead of the symptoms if they are of a serious nature.

Dr. Bell agrees with this assessment and says that staying home is the best option.

“Yes, it is suggested not to come in to the hospital for multiple reason,” says Bell. “One, if you don’t have COVID you’re at an increased risk of getting it by just being at the hospital because there are some people there who do have it, and then two a lot people who do not need medical care as our hospitals are overrun right now and testing has been more effective in the community than in the hospitals.”

Public Health Seattle King County (PHSKC) defines the differences between the two viruses this way, “Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

Due to some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 being similar, it may be difficult to know the difference between the two based on the symptoms by themselves, and testing may be called upon to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

Some of the similarities in both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include: Headache, fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain or body aches, fatigue (tiredness), sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

The differences are that the Flu virus can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms that are listed above. COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell, although some people can equate loss of taste and smell with the common flu due to stuffy noses.

Health officials nationwide offer similar steps in the event you may find yourself feeling under the weather and are unsure if it is COVID or even the flu. Here is a researched laundry list of steps one should after confirming symptoms.

• Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.

• Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.

• Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.

• Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

When staying home it is important to separate yourself from other people as much as possible. Stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask.

Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 you are helping to protect everyone.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you. Monitor your symptoms. Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

One important step if your condition demands hospitalization call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor. Calling ahead prepares medical staff and many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine in order to help protect others.

If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

At the end of the day, its best to error on the side of caution, if you are sick, stay home.