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COVID-19

COVID-19

COVID-19 rocked the world when it brought a global shutdown in March 2020. Since then, the virus has become part of our daily lives. It continues to spread, mutate, and change, just like the flu once did. And just like the flu, it will never go away, but its impact will likely decrease over time.

In May 2023, the public health emergency ended and with it, many of the restrictions and requirements which were implemented when the virus was at its highest. The additional funding also ended, which changes how prevention and treatment of the virus is handled.

While COVID is no longer at pandemic status, it is not gone, and it is unlikely to completely disappear. As with any illness, it will affect people differently. Young children and older adults are more at risk for serious complications and variations of the virus. You can keep yourself, your family, and your loved ones safe from COVID by following the guidelines and recommendations. The CDC website will have comprehensive COVID-19 information, but the below areas will provide a good baseline for how to stay healthy.

Current COVID Status

VACCINES
LCHD is no longer offering COVID vaccines. Please contact your healthcare provider or visit VaccinateWA to find the closest provider.

TESTING
LCHD has free COVID test kits available in the lobby of our office. You can also order four free tests through USPS.

EXPIRED TESTS
The FDA has adjusted COVID test expiration dates. You can see the extended expiration dates on the FDA COVID At-Home Test

Public Guidelines
As the Public Health Emergency has closed, there are no guidelines or restrictions on business or organizations.

There are a wide range of potential symptoms with COVID-19. Symptoms generally appear within two to 14 days after exposure. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These are not the only symptoms though, as there are many factors in how COVID presents in an individual. If you believe you have been exposed and are not feeling well, it is always safest to stay home and test for COVID.

The following symptoms are considered an emergency and should be treated by a medical professional immediately.

  • Significant trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, grey, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you or someone you love is showing any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

COVID and the flu can share many of the same symptoms, but they are not the same illness. COVID is more severe, easier to spread, and takes longer to show symptoms than the flu. The CDC has compiled a list of similarities and differences between the flu and COVID on their The Difference between Flu and COVID-19 page. A few key considerations when you are not feeling well:

  • It is impossible to tell whether itís the flu or COVID based on symptoms. Taking a COVID test is one way to determine if itís COVID.
  • You can have COVID and the flu at the same time. Since they are different viruses, this can happen, although it is uncommon.
  • If you have COVID, you are contagious for a longer period than with the flu. COVID is contagious for eight days after symptoms appear, while the flu is contagious for only three to four days.
  • Some people with COVID could have no symptoms at all, which is called asymptomatic. While there may be no symptoms, they are still considered contagious.
  • Treatment for both viruses are most effective within the first days of being ill, so if you are not feeling well and believe it to be the flu or COVID, test at home and schedule a doctorís appointment.

Whether it is COVID or the flu, you can protect your loved ones and the community by staying home when you donít feel well, avoiding others, and wearing a mask in public if you must go out.

As of November 2023, the CDC recommends the 2023-24 updated COVID vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax. This vaccine was released in October 2023. Vaccines prior to this date are not considered up-to-date and people should receive at least one of the 2023-23 updated COVID vaccine.

Most vaccines depend on your age, and COVID is the same. COVID vaccines have some variation for children between six months and four years old, but most people will only need one vaccine to be considered up-to-date. Recommendations are below.† CDC has also created a visual chart to help determine what is best for your situation.

Age Range Unvaccinated Vaccinated prior to 2023-24 update
6 months to 4 years 2 doses of 2023-24 Moderna

OR

3 doses of 2023-24 Pfizer

1 dose 2023-24 Moderna for previous Modern vaccines

OR

2 doses 2023-24 Pfizer vaccine for 1 previous Pfizer vaccine

OR

1 dose 2023-23 Pfizer vaccine for 2 or more previous Pfizer vaccine

5 to 11 years 1 dose 2023-24 Moderna

OR

1 dose 2023-24 Pfizer

1 dose 2023-24 Moderna

OR

1 dose 2023-24 Pfizer

12 years and over 1 dose 2023-24 Moderna

OR

1 dose 2023-24 Pfizer

OR

2 doses 2023-24 Novavax

1 dose 2023-24 Moderna

OR

1 dose 2023-24 Pfizer

OR

1 dose 2023-24 Novavax

The CDC Frequently Asked Questions can provide additional guidance on safely receiving a vaccine for a variety of situations, including considerations for youth, pregnancy, immunocompromised, and more.

COVID exposure is when you have come in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID. Suspected exposure is when you have been in contact with someone who may have COVID but has not been diagnosed. Whether it is a confirmed or suspected exposure, taking precautions the moment you find out will help reduce the chance of spreading it to others. Precautions should be taken for 10 days after exposure and begin simply: wear a mask any time you are around others.

The next 10 days will depend on whether you start showing symptoms or not. It is important to start the 10-day clock at the right time to keep everyone safe. It begins the first full day after exposure. So, if you were around someone on Friday, Saturday is your day 1.

Day 1 to Day 6 will be monitoring your symptoms. If you develop symptoms, test immediately. If positive, youíll need to follow the COVID Positive precautions. On day 6, if you have not shown any symptoms, test for COVID. If your test is negative, complete a second test on day 8 and continue to wear a mask and avoid high-risk people through day 10.

On day 8, if you have not shown any symptoms, test for COVID. If your test is negative, complete a third and final test on day 10 and continue to wear a mask and avoid high-risk people through day 10. On day 10, before you remove your mask and resume your normal routine, test for COVID a third and final time. A negative test on day 10 will confirm you likely do not have COVID and can resume your normal routine the next day.† If at any time during the 10-day period you begin to show symptoms, test immediately.

At day 11, which is actually 12 days after exposure, if you have no symptoms and no positive tests, you can resume your normal schedule. While wearing a mask and avoiding people is not always the most exciting choice, it is the best choice to keep your loved ones healthy.

If you do not want to do repeated at-home tests, you can always schedule an appointment for a clinical PCR test to confirm you do not have COVID.

Quarantine vs. Isolation

Quarantining keeps someone who may have a virus away from others by restricting their interaction with the community. Isolation keeps sick people away from healthy people, even inside a home.

If you take an at home COVID test and have a positive result, you should take immediate steps to reduce the chance you will pass it along to someone else and to help ensure you do not develop complications from COVID. There are many options to treat COVID, and the right one for you will depend on your health history, the severity of the COVID infection, and other factors. If you test positive at home and have mild symptoms, stay home. If you test positive and have severe symptoms or are considered high risk (i.e. immunocompromised, older than 65, etc.), scheduling a medical visit is the best next step to ensure you fully recover.

Please note, COVID is considered a notifiable condition. This means when there is a positive test, the doctor and/or lab must report it to the health department. You will likely receive a call from us to check-in on you. We do this to not only find where it came from so we can prevent it from spreading, but also because we want to be able to support your recovery from it. You can learn more about this on our Notifiable Conditions page.

Quarantine vs. Isolation

Quarantining keeps someone who may have a virus away from others by restricting their interaction with the community. Isolation keeps sick people away from healthy people, even inside a home.

If you receive a positive test and have no symptoms, the day of the test is day zero. Day 1 begins the first day after the test. If you receive a positive test and have symptoms, day zero is the first day of your symptoms and day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms started.† The CDC has an Isolation and Exposure Calculator to help you determine the best timeline for keeping you, your loved ones, and the community safe.

Immediately After a Positive Test

When you have a positive test result, even if you have no symptoms, you will need to isolate yourself from others for at least five days. Isolation means you will separate and avoid interaction with everyone, even in your own home. This helps keep your family safe from catching the virus and starting a cycle of passing it back and forth. This cycle is called a retransmission cycle and is very common in homes.

Isolation and Recovery

If you tested positive, have no symptoms, and do not develop any symptoms, you can end your isolation on day 5. From day 6 to day 10, you should quarantine by staying home and avoiding the public. If at any time you develop symptoms, the clock starts over at day zero.

If you tested positive and had symptoms, but they are improving, you can end your isolation on day 5 as long as you have been fever-free for 24-hours. If your symptoms are not improving, you should continue to isolate until they improve and youíve been fever free for 24-hours. For those with moderate or severe (hospitalized) symptoms or are considered immunocompromised, isolation should continue through day 10 to ensure you are able to fully recover.† No matter the symptoms, your provider can always answer your questions about when itís time to stop isolating.

Isolation Checklist:

  • Wear a mask anytime you are around others, even at home.
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Do not travel.
  • Use separate rooms, when possible, for all activities, including sleeping.
  • Use separate bathrooms, when possible.
  • Do not share personal items, food, or drinks with anyone.
  • Avoid pets, when possible, and keep them away from your face.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

There are now options to help treat COVID for those who are at risk of developing complications or are immunocompromised. For most people, treating the symptoms of COVID with over-the-counter medicines likes acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help you feel more comfortable.

For those at-risk, there are two prescription medicines which you can take at home to help. These target the virus and stop it from multiplying, which reduces the length and severity of the illness. These meds, called antivirals, must be started withing five days of developing symptoms to be effective. Like the vaccine, the prescription treatment optionsócalled Paxlovid or Lagevrio, are currently being transitioned to the general market. This is expected to be completed by December 31, 2023, after which time people who are un- or under-insured will be able to receive financial assistance if they are prescribed one of these.

There is a third antiviral which must be administered intravenously over three consecutive days. This third option is not yet privatized but is meant for some of the most severe cases. †When and if it moves to the general market is not yet clear.

These treatment options can be wonderful options for some people, but they can also interact with medications and have their own set of risks. It is ultimately up to you and your provider on whether an antiviral treatment option is the best for you. You can learn more about these options on the CDC COVID-19 Treatment and Medications page.

While many people recover from COVID without any lingering issues, some people continue to have health issues related to their COVID infection. The continued health issue is called Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions, and is broadly defined to include any signs, symptoms, or conditions that continue (or develop) after COVID. Long COVID is associated more with people who have severe COVID, but anyone who had COVID can develop Long COVID.

There are certain situations which increase the chances of developing Long COVID, including:

  • Not being vaccinated against COVID
  • Having COVID repeatedly
  • Having a severe case of COVID.

Long COVID is still new in the medical realm, which means there is a lot to learn. Information will be updated and may even change, as we learn more about it. You can learn more about Long COVID and follow the updates as more is understood on the CDC Long COVID page.

Long COVID is a recognizable condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The US Department of Health and Human Service has guidance for this addition.