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Doctors in area answer questions about COVID – Park Rapids Enterprise

Hubbard County is experiencing an intermediate rate of community transmission of COVID-19, according to the latest COVID Tracker report as of Aug. 4.

While this differs from the previously reported high transmission rate, says Dr. Michele Thieman of Essentia Health in Park Rapids that the risk of exposure may actually be higher.

Symptoms of the BA.5 variant include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

“Many people just do home testing, and that data is rarely reported to the CDC, county or state. So you should assume that transmission levels are significantly higher than recorded,” Thieman said. “In addition, surrounding counties, including Beltrami, Clearwater and Otter Tail, are showing high levels of transmission.”

On August 8, data on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website showed that only 11,608 (55.2%) of Hubbard County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine and only 10,958 had completed the vaccination course, with 3,812 fully boosted.

As Labor Day approaches, many families plan vacations to enjoy the last days of summer before school starts.

dr Shayla Hesse is a Physician at Sanford Health in Bemidji. She said it’s up to you how much risk you’re willing to take.

“There is no one size fits all when it comes to restricting activities that could expose you and your family to COVID-19,” she said. “The level of risk you are willing to accept may depend on the likelihood that if you do become infected you will develop a more serious illness. For example, if you are immunocompromised, elderly, unvaccinated, and/or have a chronic medical condition, you are at an increased risk of developing more severe symptoms when infected with COVID-19. This may lead you to take more precautions than someone who is young, healthy, vaccinated and living alone.”

Hesse said outdoor activities are generally safer than indoor ones, and smaller gatherings are better than larger ones.

“Additionally, keeping a two-meter distance from people outside your household and wearing a well-fitting mask has been shown to help protect you and other people,” she said.

Thieman said most people would not need to wear a mask outdoors. “If it’s very crowded, you might want to reconsider,” she said.

According to the CDC, the recommendation for the COVID community during low transmission rates is to wear a mask based on personal preference and level of risk.

When transmission rates are moderate, people at higher risk of serious illness or those living with or meeting someone at risk of serious illness should dress up indoors.

When community transmission rates are high, it is recommended that persons 2 years and older wear a well-fitting mask in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk, including in K-12 schools and other community settings. Those at risk of serious illness should wear a mask or respirator, which offers better protection.

Guidelines for COVID positives

Thieman said the recommendation for someone who tests positive for COVID is to isolate for a full five days, with “day 1” being the first full day after symptoms start or after testing positive.

Isolation can be ended after five days under the following circumstances:

  • fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of antipyretic drugs) AND symptoms are improving or
  • You have never developed symptoms and you are on day 6 or
  • At least 10 days if you have become very ill or have a compromised immune system (ask your doctor for further instructions).

You should take these precautions by day 10:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are in your home or in public with others for 10 full days.
  • Do not travel for a full 10 days.
  • Avoid being around people who are more likely to contract COVID-19.

Hesse said any time a person develops “emergency warning signs” for COVID-19, including difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, or an inability to wake up or stay awake, an ambulance should be sought immediately.

Anyone who tests positive and is more likely to become very ill with COVID-19 has treatment options, including antivirals and monoclonal antibodies, which can reduce the chances of being hospitalized or dying. Contact your clinic or schedule a virtual visit to discuss these options.

Drugs used to treat COVID-19 must be prescribed by a healthcare provider and must be started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective.

People who are more likely to become very ill include adults over the age of 50, people who have not been vaccinated, and people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.

Vaccinations and boosters

Hesse said that although BA.5, an Omicron subvariant, has been observed to evade protective immunity better than previous COVID-19 variants, there is good evidence that up-to-date vaccination (with booster shots) helps reduce the risk of a to reduce severe illness due to BA.5 infection.

“Don’t wait to get a booster shot,” she said. “New COVID-19 vaccines designed to provide better variant protection are in the development pipeline. However, it is not known when these will be available across the board. In the meantime, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to protect yourself now.”

The current vaccination recommendations are the first series of vaccinations for everyone over 6 months and a booster vaccination for everyone over the age of 5 years. In addition, people 50 years and older and people 12 years and older with moderately or severely compromised immune systems are recommended to receive a second booster six months after the first booster.

Thieman said it’s especially important for those who travel frequently, spend a lot of time indoors with people not wearing masks, live with someone at high risk of serious illness if they’re exposed to COVID-19, or in an area of ​​live or work medium or high transmission is now boosted instead of waiting for the fall vaccine.

CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health continues to conduct walk-in COVID-19 clinics for primary series and boosters for children 12 and older. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are available Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 1415 1st Street E. in Park Rapids.

How to get free COVID tests

U.S. homes are now eligible for the third round of free rapid COVID-19 tests made available by the federal government. Order tests at USPS.com.

Each order contains eight Antigen COVID-19 rapid tests. The FDA has more details on home testing, including extended shelf life and updated expiration dates. Each order of eight tests is shipped in two separate packages with four tests in each package, each with its own tracking number.

Anyone who needs help placing an order for their at-home testing can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).

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