With the rise in COVID-19 cases both nationwide and in Massachusetts, you may know more and more people who have tested positive.
Responding to rising case trends, Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician and academic dean at Brown University School of Public Health, shares some tips for the public to navigate the current pandemic moment.
As has always been the case with the coronavirus, no protective measure is 100% effective, and everything comes with a caveat, but Ranney emphasized Tuesday on Twitter how important testing and vaccination are still if you want to avoid contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill.
How at risk are you of catching COVID?
Ranney pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research that found that when no one in a household is vaccinated or isolated, about two-thirds of people living with someone with omicron become infected.
Being vaccinated and strengthened reduces that risk by about 30 to 50 percent, Ranney said, leaving you with about a 30 percent risk of infection if someone in your household has COVID.
It could be even lower, however, Ranney said, if the infected person masks up and self-isolates.
“Funny thing: we are literally all at risk…but also, #VaccinesWork,” Ranney tweeted.
Ranney said new omicron variants, which spread rapidly, could be a game-changer since different strains of the virus have different levels of transmissibility.
What to do in case of a positive test?
If you test positive, isolation is key, Ranney said.
Ideally the ER doctor said you should self-isolate until you have a negative rapid test or for at least 5 days. All close contacts should be quarantined if unvaccinated, and if vaccinated, they should be tested five or more days after exposure just to be sure.
Ranney said masking is recommended and “the right thing to do” for everyone for 5-10 days.
The doctor said the risks associated with a positive test are lower than at the start of the pandemic. She said many people — those vaccinated, boosted and healthy — would likely feel shitty for days or weeks from the virus, but the risk of long COVID is lower and they’ll “almost certainly be fine.” “.
While BA.2 cases have been increasing “significantly” for more than a month (and, as Ranney points out, are still underestimated due to home testing), the good news is that hospitalizations and deaths n increase only slightly.
The seven-day average of positive cases in Massachusetts was 2,605.7 as of May 9, compared to less than 1,000 in early March. Hospitalizations didn’t start rising steadily until mid-April, a month after the cases. Now the seven-day average of hospitalizations is around 600. Deaths, on the other hand, have not shown a substantial increase in the state, hovering below 7 for the seven-day average of confirmed deaths since mid-March.
Ranney said a “caution” about the risk of catching COVID is for people who are not vaccinated and boosted; are immunocompromised; or if you have multiple chronic illnesses, the virus can still be dangerous.
If you’re immunocompromised, Ranney recommended asking your doctor about Evusheld, a preventative therapy that can help protect people from future COVID-19 infections.
Read Ranney’s full advice thread below:
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