June 10, 2020

Preventing spread

Yesterday, I went to get tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. If that is confusing, think about Chicken Pox: the disease is Chicken Pox, the virus that causes it is Varicella Zoster. Our mayor and health department, as well as our employee health services, recommended all protestors consider getting tested after 48-72 hour after possible exposure. Since I marched in the White Coats for Black Lives demonstration in Seattle last Saturday with 10,000 fellow health care workers; I decided to get tested, because I am at a high risk age and I don’t want to expose Jamie.

They made it easy. Our drive through at my clinic had a full schedule, so I went to the city sponsored one on Aurora for testing, a drive through with 3 lanes, in the old state automobile emssions testing site. Glad I did it, except that they are still using the full, deep nasopharyngeal swab. Both nostrils! Yikes, the burning was tough to tolerate. I got the results today after only 24 hours by scanning a QR code they gave me. Negative. I expected that, because everyone at the demonstration was wearing a mask, no tear gas, and we were all outdoors and facing the same way during the march and listening to the excellent speeches. But I will still check in with myself daily to make sure I have no symptoms for the recommended 14 days.

Masking does work. And it also makes a difference of how much virus you get exposed to, which is why masking and being outdoors are key, as well as limiting time and washing your hands. These are the mantras for staying healthy for the next while.

I have spent most of my time talking about prevention, for good reason. The lockdown has made a huge difference. We are opening up again and there will be more infections. We are already hearing about upticks.

So, what do you do if you get infected or get exposed? Remember, most people do OK, some get sick and we can take better care of people now. But you also don’t want to spread it. My local health department has a great graphic about different scenarios of when to stop isolating at home after a COVID-19 infection. The bottom line is 3 days without fever AND 10 days since symptoms appeared AND other symptoms have improved. If you read the flyer, you can see different recommendations for different scenarios, including people with mild symptoms and household members. Exposed but non-infected household members are the tough ones, because they need to be isolated for 14 days AFTER their family member/roommate’s isolation period. And if anyone has to go out, they must wear a mask and keep it to only essential needs.

And remember, the guidelines about mask wearing have been all over the place. I was skeptical at first, too. Now we have more compelling data and the guidelines have become more clear. Just because you used to think masks were bad, but now you realize they help, does not make you a hypocrite if you start wearing one. You are allowed to change your mind. It means you can learn and are considerate of others.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, and stay 6 feet away.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://crosscut.com/2020/06/seattle-health-workers-march-expose-racism-health-crisis

https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/~/media/depts/health/communicable-diseases/documents/c19/how-long-to-stay-home-when-sick.ashx

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-masks-study-idUSKBN23G37V

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/health/coronavirus-transmission-dose.html