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Many of us have received the dreaded phone call or text message from a close contact with the words, "I tested positive for COVID-19." With this new information comes a lot of questions - should our entire household be quarantined? Do we all need to be tested? Do I also have COVID-19?
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This is a common scenario for households across the country as the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread. And while cases are declining, especially in areas like the Northeast, which were hit hard by the rise after the holidays, Drs. Anthony Fauci not that COVID-19 cases peak nationally before mid-February.
If someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, here are the answers to some of the most common questions and concerns.
►Related: Pfizer and BioNTech announce plans to test omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine in adult trials
Can you avoid getting COVID-19 from a household member?
The answer is not so black and white as it may depend on the unique situation of your household.
While household members have an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19, whether you test positive or not depends on vaccination status, ability to social distance, whether you share things or use the same surfaces, and when and how common areas are cleaned among other factors. .
The CDC says it is important to stay as separate as possible from household members who test positive for COVID-19. There will be ongoing exposure until that person is no longer contagious, so there are precautions you need to take in this situation.
How long have you been infected with COVID-19?
Are you wondering how long you have to distance yourself and observe the proper precautions in your household? The CDC says people with a mild to moderate COVID-19 infection remain contagious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset.
Those with a more severe infection, on the other hand, are likely to remain contagious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset.
Keep in mind that those who have recovered from COVID-19 can still test positive for up to three months after infection, as they may have detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA left in their body. However, these individuals do not remain contagious during that time.
How to keep yourself safe when someone in the home tests positive
Depending on vaccination status, quarantine or isolate
If you are not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, you should be quarantined if anyone in your household has COVID-19 to avoid being constantly exposed to the virus according to the CDC's current guidelines.
Breakthrough infections are possible in vaccinated individuals, especially with the infectious omicron variant. Regardless of vaccination status, if you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19 (even if you are asymptomatic), you should isolate yourself by keeping your distance from household members, staying home, and taking extra precautions such as wearing a mask around others and avoiding travel until your isolation period ends.
According to the CDC's recently updated isolation guidelines, you should isolate for five days - if you are asymptomatic or your symptoms disappear (without fever for 24 hours), you can finish your isolation but should continue to wear a mask around others for another five days .
►More: COVID quarantine and isolation guide: What to know and what to have at home
Take a COVID-19 test at home, or get tested at a location near you
An important tool for identifying positive COVID-19 cases is to be tested. Continue to monitor your symptoms and perform serial testing (or repeat testing every few days) to confirm whether or not you have contracted the virus. You can currently order free COVID-19 tests at home from the US government, but if you need a test as soon as possible, you can find home test kits online or in-store from major retailers and pharmacies. You can also get COVID-19 testing free of charge or can have your purchases refunded through your insurance company, thanks to a new policy.
Wear masks in the household
If someone in your household has COVID-19, everyone should wear a well-fitting mask inside the home, according to the CDC. N95 and KN95 masks offer top protection and filtration, so choose these masks if possible. If there are children in your household, there are also protective KN95 options available to them. Free N95 masks provided by the Biden administration are currently on their way to local pharmacies and retailers such as Costco, Hy-Vee, Walgreens and other major retailers.
Clean and disinfect the home often
If possible, try to keep a separate bedroom and bathroom for someone who is ill. If separation is not possible, the household member infected with COVID-19 should clean and disinfect surfaces and objects after each use.
If your sick household member is not healthy enough to clean themselves, have another household member put on a mask, wear gloves, and begin cleaning and disinfecting when necessary. The CDC says that you do not have to clean a shared room every time after the infected person has used it - this can increase your contact with potentially infected objects or surfaces. You can use disinfectant wipes for a quick and easy cleaning. Be sure to wash your hands afterwards,
Also, try to keep these shared spaces ventilated if possible. We are in the middle of winter and some areas may be too cool for this, so an alternative is to use your heating and HVAC systems to increase air circulation.
Limit the care of the person with COVID-19 to a household member
If someone else in the household needs to take care of the person with COVID-19, try to keep it to one person. The more people who interact with the infected individual, the more likely the spread in the household can happen.
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