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Exposed to COVID-19 at a Christmas party? Here’s what to do next

What should you do if you suspect COVID-19 has caught up with you this holiday season?

Maybe you attended a party and found out that someone has tested positive. Or maybe you were among the thousands of passengers who spent more time in a Christmas weekend at the airport amid flight cancellations and delays, and who are worried about potential exposure.

The highly contagious variant of omicron accounted for more than 73% of new cases in the United States as of Christmas Day, and health experts have warned of a further resurgence of cases and hospitalizations.

In addition to the challenges, omicron appears to be resistant to antibody treatments that were effective against earlier strains and more effective in overcoming vaccines currently in use, increasing the possibility of breakthrough infections in those vaccinated.

Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that data from South Africa and the UK measure 35 percent efficacy against infection with the omicron variant of two-dose mRNA vaccines such as those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. This effectiveness increases to 75 percent with a booster dose.

Vaccines also provide protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from chronic infections.

Although the booster doses offer greater protection against the new variant, from Monday only 32 percent of the American population and 33.3% of adults in New Mexico had received the additional dose.

This “what now?” The guide is based on current guidelines from the CDC and the New Mexico Department of Health.

Quarantine and testing

Have you been in close contact with someone who tested positive? The CDC considers “close contact” to last at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period within six feet of a person with COVID-19.

On December 27, the agency announcement it was shortening its recommended quarantine and isolation periods for people without symptoms, based on the findings that “the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the disease, usually within 1- 2 days before the onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after. “

If you are not fully vaccinated and have had close contact with a positive case, the CDC recommends home quarantine for five days from the last contact with that person. This means avoiding household members and, in particular, those with risk factors for more serious illness, while waiting for test results and watching for symptoms. After five days of quarantine, the CDC recommends an additional five days of constant wearing of the mask around other people.

This advice also applies to people who completed a primary vaccination course more than six months ago (or two months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) but have not received a booster.

If the five-day quarantine “is not feasible,” updated CDC guidelines call for 10 days of strict mask use.

NMSU graduate student Joe Bahder self-administers a nasal swab test at a new COVID-19 testing site on the campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces on Thursday 5 November 2020.

The New Mexico Department of Health is largely following CDC guidelines, but Monday had not updated its recommendations in response to federal changes.

For those who have completed a primary vaccination course, no quarantine period is indicated unless you have symptoms of illness; but consistent use of the mask is advised for a period of 10 days.

Regardless of vaccine status, the CDC recommends getting tested five to seven days after suspected exposure, preferably five, and masking indoors in public. (Note: New Mexico has a mask mandate for all residents from 2 years old for indoor public spaces in effect until January 7, unless extended.)

If typical symptoms of COVID-19 disease develop – including fever, cough, or shortness of breath – the CDC is asking you, effective Monday’s notice, to isolate yourself from others for five days from the onset of symptoms and contact your healthcare professional.

Following: Omicron could resist treatments that reduce hospitalizations

Depending on the circumstances, you may be a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatments, which state health officials say have been very effective in reducing the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. One such treatment used in New Mexico, sotrovimab, would have remains effective against the omicron strain.

However, supplies of sotrovimab are insufficient.

PCR vs antigenic tests

New Mexico considers laboratory-confirmed PCR testing the standard for a truly positive result. If you are symptomatic and get a negative result from a rapid antigen test, the DOH recommends follow-up with a PCR test.

Home COVID-19 antigen self-test kit Monday, December 27, 2021.

Antigenic tests give quick results but may miss the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In addition, antigenic tests administered at home without professional supervision can be compromised if the person does not follow instructions carefully.

The New Mexico Department of Health’s statewide directory of testing sites is online at http://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html. President Joe Biden has pledged to send half a billion coronavirus test kits to U.S. households as well as open federal testing centers.

Although the CDC suggests the quarantine period may be shortened to seven days if a test given five days after exposure comes back negative, the New Mexico Department of Health States: “A negative COVID-19 test should not be used to end quarantine prematurely.”

My PCR test was positive. Now what?

The public health service has a page on its website on the coronavirus, http://cv.NMhealth.org, with step-by-step advice on what to do if your test is positive. New Mexico generally follows CDC guidelines after review by the state’s medical advisory team.

Luke Garcia, 6, shows off his Baby Yoda bandage after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Friday, November 5, 2021 was the first day of distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 in Las Cruces.

No symptoms? Following CDC guidelines, stay home and isolate yourself from others for five days from the day of your positive test followed by five days of wearing the mask around other people.

Do you have symptoms? The isolation clock begins when symptoms first appear, rather than when you have been tested. Isolation lasts at least 10 days from that date, plus at least 24 hours after the fever has passed without medication and symptoms have improved.

Hospitalized? A 20-day isolation period applies if you were in an intensive care unit, undergoing chemotherapy, or if you were diagnosed with an uncontrolled HIV virus or severe immunocompromised disease. Also, as above, at least one day should have passed since the fever subsided without medication and symptoms improved.

I am negative! How about this New Years party?

You’re kidding, aren’t you?

On CNN Monday, Fauci recommended smaller gatherings among people you know are fully immunized, but larger gatherings are discouraged, including people whose immunization status is unknown to you.

“When you talk about a New Year’s party – where you have 30, 40, 50 people celebrating, you don’t know the status of the vaccination – I highly recommend that you don’t talk about it this year,” he said. he declared.

New Mexico offers a number of outdoor events on New Years Eve, and it may be safer, rather than attending an indoor party, to celebrate at an outdoor event. in the state, such as the Las Cruces Chile Drop (who returns this year after taking place practically last year).

Yet large outdoor gatherings that bring you closer to others can still pose risks. Especially, El Nuevo Dia recently reported that a two-day concert at an outdoor stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, earlier in December, is suspected by local health officials to have led to the infection of more than 2,000 attendees. Proof of vaccination was required for admission to the salon.

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] Where @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.