With the increase in COVID-19 cases in our community it’s important to, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home when sick, get tested if symptomatic or exposed, answer the phone if the health department calls, also please get your flu shot!

Will the vaccine protect against the variant strain?
While we are aware of new variants of the COVID-19 virus, our strategy to address the pandemic has not changed. It remains critically important to wear a mask, wash your hands, and follow social distancing protocols, as well as get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you. Experts believe that the vaccine will protect against new strains of the virus, although more studies are being conducted to determine whether a booster shot will need to be administered to improve immune response, just as we do with other viruses such as the measles. The COVID-19 virus will likely be with us for a long time and we will need to remain vigilant in protecting against its spread through public safety measures, masking, and vaccinations.

Once I get COVID-19 do I have immunity?
The Centers for Disease Control is working to determine if you can become sick with COVID-19 more than once. Once you test positive, you can continue to test positive for 3 months although you may no longer be infectious.

If exposed, will I have to quarantine again after I have already had COVID-19?
If you have another exposure within 3 months of your last infection, public health contact tracers will work with you to determine if you need to quarantine. However, if you have been placed in quarantine because of a previous exposure, but were never tested or didn’t test positive, you will need to re-quarantine for each new exposure.

How do I get a test?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, contact your medical provider to schedule a test. In Park Rapids, Sanford Health and Essentia Health schedule COVID-19 testing through e-visits. You can find more information on their websites. CHI St. Joseph’s Health will test Emergency Room patients who are symptomatic, but do not provide stand-alone COVID-19 testing.

I’ve been exposed to a person that is positive, do I have to get tested? If so, when?
If you have been in close contact to an infectious person who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to quarantine at home for 14 days. If you are asymptomatic, it is best to wait 5-7 days to be tested because of the incubation period of COVID-19 and the way it presents in test results. However, even if you test negative, you still need to remain in quarantine the full 14 days. If at any time during the 14 days you become symptomatic, you should get tested.

Can I test out of quarantine?
No. If you are placed in quarantine because of close contact with a known COVID-19 case, you must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days, even if you have a negative test. You can develop symptoms at any time during the 14 days, even if you test negative at one point. This is true for all COVID-19 tests – antibody, antigen, or nasal swab.

What is the difference between isolation for a COVID-19 positive test and quarantine for contact with a COVID-19 positive individual?
When you test positive for COVID-19, you are placed in isolation for at least 10 days and additionally must be fever free for 24 hours. This is to prevent spread to others while you have an active infection. If you have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. Quarantine means to stay home as much as possible, avoiding contact with others and wear a mask if around others. You may be infectious, but asymptomatic and doing this will help prevent spread. During this time, you will also monitor yourself for symptoms. You may be tested for COVID-19 while in quarantine.

What is the 15-minute rule of exposure… is it cumulative?
A close contact is anyone you have had contact with for 15 minutes or more, within 6 feet, whether you are wearing a mask or not. The 15 minutes is cumulative – meaning if you were in and out of 6 feet range over an hour, but if the total time spent within 6 feet was 15 minutes or more, you are a close contact.

If you have questions, please contact your healthcare provider or you call CHI St. Joseph’s Community Health at 218.237.5464. Stay safe and healthy!

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