December 2, 2020

I Think I Have COVID-19, Now What?

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Call Doctor, Get Tested for COVID-19

According to Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Medical Director of Infection Control at Edward Hospital, when symptoms show up, call a doctor and get tested.

“From a primary care perspective they should have a very low threshold to test for symptoms,” said Pinsky. “I’ve seen patients who thought that just had a sinus infection or thought they had a cold, or thought they just had some muscle aches and it turned out to be COVID. And they didn’t get diagnosed until later in the course and by that time they had already exposed several people and potentially missed out on early treatments.”

 What If It’s Positive?

If an individual has tested positive, Edward-Elmhurst Health provides the following steps. Stay home if symptoms are mild and non-life threatening. While doing so, isolate from those in the home and wear a mask in common areas. Inform any close contacts that you have tested positive, dating back 48 hours prior to symptoms appearing. Monitor current symptoms and take note of any new or worsening symptoms. Go to an emergency room or call 911 if there is trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, new confusion, if someone is unable to wake individual or if the individual can’t stay awake, and if bluish lips or face develop.

“COVID can start off with very mild symptoms or no symptoms and some people recover in a few days or earlier,” said Pinsky. “Other people may go on and progress to more severe symptoms and that can take, on average, 7-10 days before it progresses to the point where you have severe symptoms with pneumonia and loss of oxygen, impairment of oxygen delivery.”

How Long Are People Contagious?

With more than 700,000 positive cases in Illinois, among the most pressing questions for those who have or had COVID-19 are: How long is the individual contagious and are they now immune to COVID-19.

“The rule of thumb is no more than 10 days for mild symptoms and we know that because when they looked at transmission in households, they really didn’t see transmission after day 6,” explained Pinsky.

Immunity Up in the Air

Dr. Pinsky adds, people who have recovered from COVID-19 should be diligent because it’s still to be determined how long immunity lasts after recovery from COVID-19.

Currently, the positivity rate stands at 13.7 percent. However, winter weather and holiday gatherings have health officials concerned that a renewed surge in COVID-19 is on the horizon.

For more information, you can visit eehealth.org/coronavirus

Reporting for Naperville News 17, I’m Kevin Jackman

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