Many area healthcare providers including CHC/SEK have begun to see an end-of-summer increase in viral illness such as COVID, influenza and other respiratory illnesses.
Fortunately, for most people the COVID variants and the other viral illnesses are mild and generally resolve without the need for treatment, says Dr. Linda Bean, Chief Medical Officer at CHC/SEK.
However, individuals who are at risk, either due to age or certain medical conditions, and have been exposed or suspect they have COVID or influenza should follow up with a medical provider to discuss testing and treatment options. At this point, do not expect mass testing associated with the 2020 pandemic to return.
“With the public health emergency declarations expiring signaling the end of the pandemic, we have also seen an end to the ability to do mass testing for COVID,” Bean says. “Most health organizations including CHC/SEK now have less access to testing supplies, and fewer resources dedicated to testing as we did during the pandemic.”
Additionally, the curbside and in-clinic testing once covered for patients during the public health emergency is no longer “free,” and home testing kits are readily available through retail stores and on-line.
“COVID variants are always going to be around,” Dr. Bean says. “Now, beyond the pandemic, we need to shift our thinking around them and other respiratory illnesses to managing our risks the best we can, including staying up to date on COVID and influenza vaccines, which we believe will be available in the next couple of weeks.”
What should you do if you develop symptoms or have been exposed to COVID, influenza or other respiratory illnesses?
Stay home, rest, drink fluids.
Use over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever and body aches.
For most viral illnesses, you can return to class or work when you have been fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID or influenza, it is recommended that you stay home for 5 days from the start of your symptoms.
Masks can help reduce transmission.
Cover coughs and sneezes if you must be around others.
When should you be tested or see a medical provider?
If you are sick and you are at an increased risk of severe illness due to medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or other conditions that lower your immune system.
If your symptoms are getting worse or you develop trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, dizziness or other symptoms that are concerning to you.