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I often get tagged in posts, so here goes. Disclaimer: if you or someone in your household is immunocompromised or high risk, that changes the dynamic and recommendations.

What is the proper protocol for someone who has tested positive?

For persons who are not hospitalized:

Isolate at home, ideally in a room with a separate bathroom. Have only one individual come to bring food. That person should use PPE when leaving food, picking up dishes. Dishes should be thoroughly washed.

If it’s not possible to isolate with a separate bathroom, the bathroom needs to be wiped down completely after each use.

If the space is too crowded to allow for isolation, or there are high risk individuals in the household, the individual should utilize the city’s isolation options (a local hotel designated for this purpose).

What are the proper protocols with returning back to work?

COVID-19 positive and symptomatic:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • edit: my personal recommendation would be to wait at least 5 days after symptoms have passed, based on some studies in other countries that have shown individuals relapsing. But CDC recommends 3 days.

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation:

  • When at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test AND
  • Have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic.
  • For 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay 6 feet away from others) and limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other persons are present.
  • In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.

Does someone return back to work when caring for family members in the same house who are positive for COVID-19?

The guidance I’ve found is not clear, so this is my opinion only. If caring for a COVID-19 positive family member, consider every household member potentially infected. Even if the individual is physically isolated in the home, the risk of transmission is much higher in the household than in the community. For that reason, even if taking all precautions, the other household members should follow the same protocol as an infected person without symptoms. That means not going to work until the COVID-19 positive person has fully recovered and the caregiver has passed the 14 day incubation period.

Should someone who WAS positive and has now recovered return to work while caring for someone who is positive OR should you quarantine from the sick family member so you can go back to work?

In this scenario, the recovered person is ideally immune. If another in the household is sick, we can presume the recovered person won’t get re-infected, but the science is still unclear. We can presume the recovered person is safe to go to work — however, they should always discuss with their HR, and if they work in healthcare, their infection control team.

How long does someone need to quarantine?

Because we believe the incubation period to be 2–14 days, we can assume a quarantine period 14 days from the day of exposure to be sufficient. If caring for a household member, consider the last day of exposure 72 hours* after the resolution of symptoms and quarantine 14 days from that point. If testing is available, the household contacts should be tested.

*This may seem excessive. Peak contagion is at about day 5 after symptoms start, and drops every day after that. So by 72 days after symptoms have resolved, the person isn’t likely to be contagious. The risk of exposure is very low at that point, but in absence of testing and an abundance of caution, it is wise to count that point as day of last exposure.

WHEN do you begin the official count of the quarantine period? From the day of your first symptoms OR from when they were confirmed positive?

Quarantine applies, in this situation, to individuals exposed to a positive case. The time period is from the last day of known exposure.

Isolation refers to an infected individual. The above listed rules apply.

IS IT TRUE that someone can go back to work within 72 hours from having COVID-19?

See above.

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

And can you get it again?

While it’s unlikely you can get re-infected, the science is still being debated.
There are some studies that show it’s possible, but these may be individuals who never cleared the virus. We should develop immunity, but it’s not 100% clear yet.

For someone with a healthy immune system, we can assume, based on what we know from other viruses, that if you’re infected with SARS-CoV-2, and recover, you are immune to that strain of virus (and there appears to be only one strain)

Dr. Fauci said, “It’s a reasonable assumption that this virus is not changing very much. If we get infected now and it comes back next February or March we think this person is going to be protected.”

If you are immunocompromised — such as with HIV, cancer, or another disease for which the treatment makes you immunocompromised, you don’t have a “healthy” immune system. It’s not functioning as it should, and therefore I’d be hesitant to tell someone who is immunocompromised that they are immune. It’s much harder to predict in that circumstance.

Current antibody testing is problematic, so we can’t rely on that.

Is it true that someone who was around someone who had it (and still caring for a positive COVID-19) is now immune to COVID-19 because THEY didn’t get it?

No. The only way to tell if they’re immune is if they have antibodies, and the current antibody tests are problematic. They may have not been infected even though they were near someone with COVID-19. They are still presumed susceptible.

Does quarantine include you still going to stores?

This is confusing because many of us have been saying we’re under “quarantine.” Most of us are not. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you will be told to quarantine — remain home for 14 days. That means no going to stores. You’re presumed to be potentially infected until 14 days have passed with no symptoms.

For most of us, we’re asked to stay home, limit activity because we don’t know if we’ve been exposed. We’re not quarantined, we’re just taking precautions.

This article explains it well.

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