Infection Control / "Stop the Spread"

Make a plan for your potential future COVID infection

Know your status

  • Symptom tracking
    • The symptoms of COVID-19 have changed drastically since the beginning of the pandemic. What may seem like a cold or stomach bug by Delta's standards may in fact be one of the newer COVID variants. Always record when a new symptom appears. You may also want to check your temperature and other vitals. This can come in handy later if it does end up being a symptom of COVID (see: Contact Tracing).
    • Of course, not all symptoms automatically mean COVID. But if you're feeling ill, consider skipping unnecessary social outings and taking sick time/days off if you're able to.
  • Testing
    • CDC site on the different kinds of tests
      • PCR Tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction)
        • Tests for the presence of the actual virus's genetic material or its fragments as it breaks down. PCR is the most reliable and accurate test for detecting active infection.
        • Gold standard for detecting COVID, but harder to obtain now that the emergency order has been lifted.
      • RAT (Rapid Antigen Test)
        • Identifies proteins that are found on the outside of the virus by acting as an antibody
        • NEW guidance suggests that it is useful to swab the throat, both cheeks, and then each nostril. Here is a helpful guide from Ontario Health
        • Due to a high likelihood of false negatives, it's recommended to test twice (one day apart). If you were exposed and have symptoms, opt for a PCR if possible or quarantine.
    • Testing as Precaution
      • In addition to testing after a known exposure or symptoms have begun, you may want to test as a precaution before events or on a regular basis (such as weekly or following higher-risk activities). This is not accessible to everyone, but if your workplace, health insurance, or other places in your community are still providing tests, they can be an additional tool to stop the spread!
      • Testing immediately before an event or visit is best practice, but within 12 hours of the event is still effective.
    • Accessing COVID-19 tests

Quarantine and Isolation

  • The People's CDC Guide: What to Do if You Have Covid
  • Mitigating household spread
    • It is not inevitable that people who share a home will become infected, but even if they do, the amount of virus that one is exposed to can make a difference in the severity of their infection.
    • This article from NPR in 2020 is OK, but consider adding ventilation/air purification to the regimen (see Cleaner Air for recommendations)
  • A quick summary of Isolation/Quarantine/Contact Tracing:
    (aligns with People's CDC advice, but a little less thorough)
    Website author note: The Official CDC's recommendations differ from these because they are balancing the needs of capital with their failed duties to public health. The timelines below were used for a statewide contact tracing program in 2020-2021 and I have not seen compelling evidence to support the reduction in isolation/quarantine periods.

  • A contact who is exposed to someone with COVID should quarantine for 7-14 days to avoid spreading the virus to others.
    • No symptoms: Quarantine for at least 7 days.
      • How to construct the timeline: The Last day of exposure = Day 0. If there are NO symptoms, obtain a PCR test on day 5. If the test in negative, and there continues to be no symptoms, return to normal activities on day 7.
        (Sunday exposure, Monday-Friday symptom tracking, Friday PCR test, Saturday break quarantine)
      • If you can't access a PCR test, take 2 rapid tests (day 5+6).
      • Continue to mask and monitor symptoms following quarantine for 2 wks total; if symptoms occur return to quarantine and test.
    • Symptoms: Quarantine for 2 full weeks unless positive test.
      • On day 5 post-exposure, take a PCR or take a rapid test on days 5 and 6. (Sunday exposure, Friday or Fri/Sat test). If the contact tests positive, isolation timeline would begin on the first day of symptoms.
  • Someone who tests positive for COVID should isolate for at least 10 full days, beginning at the symptom start date or positive test date (whichever comes first) regardless of whether they are symptomatic.
    • Some may need or choose to isolate for longer than ten days, due to being immunocompromised or a persistence of symptoms. The positive person should check with their doctor and track their symptoms.
    • The first day of symptoms or positive test = Day 0. If symptoms have greatly improved by day 10 (including no fever for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications), on day 11 isolation can be ended.
    • To be extra cautious, the positive person can take a rapid test before breaking isolation. PCR following infection is not recommended, because one may test positive on a PCR for many weeks, even after they are no longer contagious.