As COVID-19 volumes surge in the community with Delta and the new Omicron variant, Tower Health is providing the community with guidance for testing, accessing care, and current quarantine guidelines. Tower Health is following Centers for Disease Control guidance on vaccination recommendations and safety guidelines to protect the community and staff against COVID-19 and seasonal illnesses.
“Throughout the duration of the pandemic our communities have been supportive of our team’s ongoing efforts to provide safe, high-quality care for all patients,” said P. Sue Perrotty, Tower Health President and CEO. “We need the continued help and support of everyone in the community now more than ever to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure our team members and resources are available to patients with the greatest need.”
Testing for COVID-19
You should be tested if you have symptoms of COVID including, but not limited to, fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, or fatigue. You should also be tested if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Fully vaccinated individuals should be tested five to seven days after exposure. Unvaccinated individuals should be tested immediately and if test results are negative, they should test again five to seven days later.
The Emergency Department staff are dedicated to treating individuals with emergent needs. Please do not use the Emergency Department for COVID-19 testing. Other COVID-19 testing locations and resources are available.
The CDC offers a free online viral testing tool to guide decisions about testing. Current testing recommendations for those who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms include self-tests (also known as a home test), free testing at state-sponsored testing locations, or testing at local pharmacy drive-thru clinics. Individuals with moderate symptoms or who are immunocompromised can visit Tower Health Urgent Care locations for testing.
Treatment for COVID-19
“If you or a loved one are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms such as severe shortness of breath, disorientation, difficulty responding, or high fevers that do not respond to over-the-counter medications please call 9-1-1 immediately,” said Charles F. Barbera, MD, Tower Health Vice President of Pre-Hospital and Unscheduled Care. “Our team members are working extremely hard to care for COVID patients who need testing, emergency care, or inpatient treatment. Our emergency departments are here to care for all emergencies from strokes, heart attacks, trauma, and other major conditions.”
Individuals in need of urgent care services are encouraged to also consider Virtual Urgent Care at Tower Health. This virtual option provides patients access to a healthcare provider 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via computer or mobile device. Virtual urgent visits are appropriate for allergies, bronchitis, COVID-19 related concerns, cold and flu symptoms, pink eye, sinus problems, skin problem, and urinary tract infections.
If your symptoms are mild, you can generally recover at home with rest and fluids. Any worsening of symptoms should be reported to your primary care provider.
When to Quarantine
Debra Powell, MD, Chief, Section of Infectious Diseases and Medical Director, Infection Prevention added, “If you test positive for, or have symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, you should quarantine per the current guidelines. If you are unvaccinated or have not yet received the booster, you should also quarantine if you have been exposed or come in close contact with someone who is positive. If those infected or who may likely have the virus practice quarantine, we can reduce further spread of the virus and keep our families, friends, and communities healthy.”
Current guidelines recommend those who test positive should, even if asymptomatic, quarantine for five days or until symptoms have resolved. If symptoms last longer than five days, quarantine should extend until symptoms begin to resolve and masks should be worn when around others for 10 days. If you were exposed to someone who tested positive, you may end quarantine after five days if you have no symptoms but should continue to wear a mask around others for 10 days.
Vaccination, including booster shots, against COVID-19 remains the most effective way of discouraging the spread of the virus. Vaccination and the booster shots are critical because they help discourage serious illness and hospitalization. It is also important to continue proper hand hygiene, practice social distancing, and continuing to wear a mask when in public settings.
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