Maureen Tierney, MD, and Anne O’Keefe, MD, from the School of Medicine Department of Clinical Research and Public Health, have provided the following guidance to help people feel better quicker from respiratory illnesses and protect others. They are limiting their comments on vaccination for those over 18.
As we come back from the holiday break, nationally and locally there are high levels of flu, RSV and COVID. In some cases, individuals are coming down with combined infections which can lead to more serious outcomes.
These high infection rates will continue to rise over the next several weeks, so it is not too late to get vaccinated.
If you get sick, please get tested. If you use an at home antigen test for COVID alone, test at least twice, or even better call your doctor and get tested with a better test and one that also tests for flu and RSV. Both influenza and COVID can be treated with oseltamivir and Paxlovid respectively. Getting tested for these illnesses and getting treated if positive can help speed up recovery and reduce the chance of progressing to severe disease, hospitalization and death.
In Nebraska and elsewhere around the country, hospitalizations per week are at the highest level since the first Omicron wave of COVID and are climbing. In addition, the guidelines for masking if one is recovering from COVID or flu can be found on the CDC website (at least 10 days after COVID with varying isolation periods depending on the severity of illness).
Even before COVID became widely known, doctors and nurses have recognized that wearing a mask when someone has a respiratory illness is a highly effective way to prevent disease transmission. The mask catches the virus or bacteria before it can aerosolize. So, even if you don’t get tested and treated, you can still prevent giving a respiratory infection to others by staying home when sick and, if you need to be around others, to wear a mask while still having symptoms, not because you have to, but because you want to. It is a manifestation of our Jesuit values of being men and women for and with others.
Home Test to Treat Program
For those without access to COVID treatment, a new free resource is available in the U.S. called Home Test to Treat. Free telehealth and treatment for COVID-19 and flu to anyone who tests positive (including at home), visit http://test2treat.org or call 800-682-2829 to register.