New COVID Guidance
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

New COVID Guidance

Lower levels of COVID in our communities is welcome news. At the same time, we also have many tools for decreasing COVID’s impact on our lives, including masks (when needed), testing, vaccines, and treatments. Both of these developments together allowed the Vermont Department of Health to revise some of the recommendations about how to deal with COVID. Here are the highlights:

Still stay home when you’re sick. This piece of advice was in place long before the pandemic struck and will be in place for years to come. Please do not spread illness to others by moving around in society when you are sick.

Get vaccinated. Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect ourselves against COVID-19, especially from severe illness, hospitalization and death. COVID vaccination series is complete when you are vaccinated with two vaccines followed by a booster dose.

Consider your own risk. New prevention guidance recommends that we think of our own risk when choosing behaviors. Consider your age and your health condition, whether you are immunocompromised, or if you spend time with people who are at higher risk for a serious case of COVID. In these cases, avoiding crowds or wearing a mask might be right for you.

Know when to test. Get tested for COVID-19 if (a) you have symptoms OR (b) you are a close contact of a positive case AND you are not vaccinated. You may also want to get tested even if you are vaccinated if you have risk of developing symptomatic COVID or may expose someone who is at increased risk. Aim to get tested 5 days after the exposure. Quarantine for close contacts is no longer recommended.

Know what to do if you test positive. If you test positive, isolate for 5 days and wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days, even if you are vaccinated or never have symptoms. Recommendations no longer include a negative test to end isolation or masking for an additional five days after isolation. Also, call your doctor. You may be eligible to receive a treatment that will prevent symptoms from worsening.

Adapt to the rules where you are. The changes above do not apply to healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities or other congregate settings that follow separate guidance.

Expect change. If cases increase again or if a new variant breaks on the scene, we need to be prepared to accept increased mitigation measures until it is under control. Use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Community Level to keep track of the number of cases in your community and mask up in public if they increase to a high or medium level.

Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is the infectious disease specialist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.

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