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What to do if you test positive for COVID-19?

Posted on Saturday, March 21, 2020 by UVM Health Network - CVMC

COVID-19 is a viral illness that cannot be treated with antibiotics or antivirals, and there is no vaccine. Symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath that can last 2-4 weeks. Some people will have sore throat, body aches, and/or diarrhea. It is spread through person-to-person contact or by touching objects and surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, it is important that you “self-isolate” in the following ways:

  1. Stay home, get rest, and drink plenty of healthy fluids (like water, Gatorade).
  2. Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. High priority times to wash hands include:
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before eating or preparing food
  • After contact with animals or pets
  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance, such as a child.
  1. Take Tylenol (acetaminophen) pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants or cough medicine to manage symptoms. Call your primary care provider first if you have chronic health conditions before you take these medications.
  2. Do not go to work/school/public areas.
  3. Avoid public transportation/ride-sharing/taxis.
  4. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home, particularly people with special vulnerability to COVID-19 infection, such as people age 65 or older, those with immune compromise and health care workers.
  5. Do not welcome visitors into your home.
  6. Use a separate bathroom, if available, and separate towels.
  7. Use separate dishes and utensils.
  8. Cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or with a tissue, throwing the tissue away immediately afterwards.
  9. People previously diagnosed with COVID-19 should wear a face mask when around other people if they are still having symptoms. People who are well should not acquire or wear facemasks. Avoid sharing personal household items such as cups, dishes, utensils, towels or bedding.
  10. Clean high-touch surfaces every day with disinfectant, such as countertops, tables, doorknobs, toilets and computer keyboards.
  11. Please check your temperature and monitor your symptoms daily. Seek prompt medical care if you feel like you are getting worse. Complications of COVID-19 include pneumonia, organ failure, and in some cases, death. Severe symptoms include:
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (feeling like you can’t get enough air, gasping, unable to speak without stopping for air, feelings of distress).
  • Weakness, dizziness or chest pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call your doctor primary BEFORE seeking care, or call 911 if it is a medical emergency. Inform your doctor’s office or the 911 dispatcher that you are on self-isolation for possible COVID-19 and have worsening symptoms. Please put on a facemask before entering any healthcare facilities. These steps will help reduce possible transmission to other people.

When Do I No Longer Need to Stay Home and Self-Isolate?

People who have stayed home and self-isolated can stop isolation when they meet all three of these conditions:

  1. You have had no fever for at least the last 72 hours (that means three full days of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication) AND
  2. Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath gets better) AND
  3. At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

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