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COVID Q&A: Update No. 3,975 (or maybe it just feels like that)

Dr. Beckmann and the Family First Medical Group staff share their updates on the most popular questions patients are asking about the coronavirus.

The COVID tornado keeps on spinning. Thankfully, most of us are following safety protocols and looking out for our fellow citizens. We’ve received hundreds of phone calls asking about testing, symptoms, quarantine, and much more. Here are some of the relevant things you should know.

For patients who test positive

Your recent COVID-19 test was positive. If this is your first COVID test, it means that you are currently infected with the novel coronavirus. Most patients who have this infection are able to recover at home. There is no current medication that will make COVID improve more quickly — the treatment is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, take medication for pain and cough, and recover on your own.

You should pay close attention to your breathing and go to the emergency room if you start to develop worsening shortness of breath, dehydration, or high fever that does not come down. You should quarantine yourself for at least 10-14 days and at least 24 hours after your last fever. If you live with others, they must also be considered positive and isolate themselves at home for the same 10-14 days.

For patients who test negative

Your recent COVID test is negative. This means you are currently not infected with the novel coronavirus. While the test is negative today, you still are susceptible to becoming infected and you should continue to socially distance, where a mask when you cannot socially distance, and wash your hands frequently.

If you currently have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea) and your test was negative, it is possible this is a false-negative test. In this case, it is best to follow the quarantine guidelines of 10-14 days and assume you are positive.

FAQs

1. I had COVID but am better now. Do I need a negative test to return to work or school?

No, recent CDC guidelines do not recommend getting retested because some patients can remain positive for 12 weeks. You are only contagious 10-14 days from the beginning of your symptoms, so if that time has passed, you don’t have a fever and you feel better, you can safely return to work/school.

2. Can I get COVID again?
Maybe. There are a few cases of patients being reinfected with COVID but most of those reinfections are mild. It’s likely that if you had a previous infection, your second infection would be very mild or you may not even know you are infected.

3. Can people spread COVID if they don’t feel sick?

Yes, that is why social distancing and washing hands regularly is important.

4. If I had COVID, can I donate plasma?

Yes, the evidence is still mixed about the benefits of convalescent plasma but blood banks are still collecting and research studies are ongoing.

5. I’m sure I had covid  months ago. Should I get an antibody test?

If you’re curious, we can definitely do one but it won’t provide any information you can use to change who you see or visit as antibodies can fade a few months after infection.

6. If I had COVID, am I immune?

You are likely immune for 3-4 months. After that, the data is still unclear. We believe that if you got infected or exposed again to COVID, your symptoms will likely be mild if you have symptoms at all

7. Can you get flu and COVID at the same time?

Yes.

8. My husband/sibling/parent had COVID, but I didn’t get sick. Could I have had it, too?

Yes. A positive antibody test would confirm you had COVID but a negative test wouldn’t necessarily rule out a past infection.

We are here for you, always, and will answer any questions you have and then work with you to discuss the healthiest steps forward together.

– David Beckmann, MD