COVID-19 cases have begun to climb as we head into flu season.
The majority of new cases are a result of transmission from asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals that, thanks to less testing locations and less prudency, are elevating the dangers for high-risk populations. Many healthcare policies that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are being dropped, raising concerns about the well-being of senior care staff and residents. Wearing an FFP2 mask has remained obligatory across many healthcare facilities globally and with great reason. There is countless data that supports the continued use of masks, namely in the reduction of active cases and overall morbidity rate. Despite most healthcare facilities across the United States dropping their mask mandates, there has been some pushback.
Several public health experts are advocating for year-round masking, masking during flu season, or masking when respiratory viruses reach their “critical threshold” should be mandatory healthcare policies in settings with high-risk populations. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has certainly garnered an elevated appreciation and understanding of health protocols that keep residents, patients, and healthcare workers alike safe. While community immunity and access to countermeasures have leveled out to some extent, older adults and those with underlying health conditions continue to represent the majority of new cases and based on observed trends, the same can be expected in the future.
While COVID-19 has been demoted to endemic, it is still disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable populations. Those in senior care are especially high-risk due to having more points of contact. Many facilities already have a vaccination process for their residents since vaccinating against the flu (and COVID, if not up to date) in advance of the upcoming season has proven to dramatically decrease the length and strength of respiratory illnesses.
According to the CDC, exposure to COVID-19 no longer requires isolation unless you have symptoms. The CDC website has a new tool where you can type in the date of exposure, then, based on a number of factors, it can help you decide when to test or isolate. For more information about the upcoming Flu and COVID season, please check out the CDC data tracker.
You can also follow these guidelines provided by the CDC if you test positive:
Any positive COVID-19 test means the virus was detected, and you have or recently had an infection.
- Isolate and take precautions, including wearing a high-quality mask or respirator, to protect others around you from getting infected.
- Tell people you had recent contact with that they may have been exposed.
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.
- Contact a healthcare provider, community health center, or pharmacy to learn about treatment options that may be available to you. Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.