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So, you have COVID-19. Now what?

The pandemic has been a rollercoaster for everyone.

We’re hopeful this latest wave might be the final, daunting plunge. We’ve seen early evidence cases have peaked and could soon level off. If things go well, we could soon find ourselves learning to live with COVID-19 in Pierce County.

But, we’re not there yet. We expect deaths and hospitalizations to remain high in the weeks ahead. And we must remain vigilant as our case rates remain near record highs.

If you’re among the thousands of our neighbors who recently tested positive and have symptoms, you should know what to do to protect yourself, your family, your community and our hospitals.

Trust your positive test.

Did your positive result come from an at-home antigen test? If so, you don’t need to confirm it with a PCR test unless your employer, school, or daycare requires.

False-positive results are rare. If you test positive, you should simply take the other steps in this blog!

You can order free home tests from Washington State Department of Health or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

You can report your result to Washington State Department of Health at (800) 525-0127. You don’t need to report your result to us.

You can find more info on at-home tests on our website. 

Save the emergency room for emergencies.

If you don’t have symptoms and are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccine, updated isolation and quarantine guidance states you need to stay home for 5 days, and wear a mask for 5 more days when out and about.

If your symptoms are mild and your doctor recommends it, stay home! In most cases, you can care for yourself or your loved ones at home and don’t need to go to a doctor’s office or medical facility.

Hospitals are extremely full with patients suffering from COVID-19 and those who delayed other care. We are seeing strain on our hospitals and the people who work in them.

The Washington State Medical Association issued a plea recently to stay away from emergency departments if you don’t have a true emergency. Don’t go to the E.R. for a COVID test, vaccine or mild symptoms. You can talk to your healthcare provider to help decide.

Take good care of yourself!

If you test positive for COVID-19, stay away from others if you can. Stay in one room and reserve the closest bathroom. If you must share a bathroom, sanitize surfaces. Wear a mask and ask others in your household to do the same when they are in the room with you.

If you have mild COVID symptoms, just like you would do if you have other mild illnesses, you should also: 

  • Stay home.
  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol.  
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter medications to treat symptoms.

Continue to monitor any COVID-19 symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if you or a family member shows emergency warning signs like: 

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Constant pain or pressure in the chest.
  • New confusion.
  • Inability to wake or stay awake.
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored lips, skin or nail beds.

Call 911 or go to your local emergency department immediately if you have any of these serious symptoms. Tell the operator it’s COVID-related before you leave. 

Alert people who spent time around you.

Our case and contact investigation team now prioritizes people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

You or your family can protect people you spent time with. Let them know they were exposed. Anyone who was around you a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while you were contagious is a close contact.

You can learn more about who should get tested and find a nearby location.

You can also request a verification code through WA Notify to anonymously alert other WA Notify users who may have been exposed.

Follow the latest isolation and quarantine guidance.

CDC recently shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine periods to 5 days, followed by 5 more days wearing a mask around others. The change is based on the COVID-19 contagious period: 2 days before symptoms start until 2 days after. 

We hope the shorter period will help more people to follow it. We know that the best way to reduce the spread of any contagious illness is to keep it away from others. 

Emergency Food Network will deliver food if you need it.

If you’re a Pierce County resident and need food while you’re ill, the Emergency Food Network can help. EFN offers home delivery for people who can’t get to a food pantry because they have COVID-19.  

If you’re not vaccinated yet, make an appointment.

Research shows people who have had COVID-19 develop infection-acquired immunity, which helps protect them from reinfection. That’s great news!

But in some cases, people get infected again and some become seriously ill. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, up-to-date vaccination provides the best protection against serious illness and death in the future. Since the beginning of December, unvaccinated people in Washington are up to 14 times more likely to be hospitalized. 

Once you’ve recovered and met the criteria for ending isolation, you can get vaccinated.

And you can do even more to help stop the spread.

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