With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Massachusetts and most of the state now considered high risk for community transmission, it may be time to rethink quarantine guidelines.
What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19?
The most recent virus quarantine guidelines, as published on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website, are based primarily on two factors: how long it has been since your positive test result and whether or not the activity you plan to do will allow you to wear a mask. wear.
If you test positive, you will need to stay home and isolate for the first five days. If you have never had symptoms, or if your symptoms improve, you can resume most normal activities you can do on Day 6 with a mask. You must wear a mask around others for a full 10 days, including the people you live with.
If you can’t wear a mask, or if the activity you want to do doesn’t allow for a mask, you should stay at home and isolate for 10 days. If you have never had symptoms before or if your symptoms improve, you can resume your normal activities on day 11. You are still encouraged to wear a mask around others in your household for 10 days.
This guidance is the same whether or not you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
How do I count the days to isolate?
- Day 0 of isolation should be your first day of symptoms OR the day your positive test was taken, whichever is earlier.
- Days 1-4 are strict isolation days unless you are receiving medical care.
- Day 5 is the last full day of isolation if you were asymptomatic or if symptoms have improved.
- Day 6 is when you can leave the isolation, if you are wearing a mask.
- Day 11 is when you can leave the isolation without a mask.
Mass. DPH notes that there may be circumstances where, under certain conditions, individuals may be allowed to return to childcare, school or a health care job earlier. More on that here.
What if I was exposed to someone with COVID-19?
Here’s where guidance differs depending on your vaccination status. If you are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and you are aware of the COVID-19 vaccinations, you do not have to quarantine, but you have to wear a mask around others for 10 days, including at home . You should also have a rapid antigen or PCR test on day 5, or if you develop symptoms. If you test positive, follow the isolation guidelines. If you can’t mask, quarantine for 10 days after exposure and follow the same testing guidelines as above.
If you are in close contact and are not aware of COVID-19 vaccinations or have not been vaccinated, it is recommended that you quarantine for five days after exposure and wear a mask around others, including at home. It is also recommended to wear a mask around others for another five days after that quarantine period, including at home. If you can’t wear a mask, extend that quarantine to 10 days. You should test on day 5, or if symptoms develop. If you don’t test on day 5, you’ll be quarantined for 10 full days.
When should I seek emergency medical help?
The CDC recommends that you pay attention to the following emergency warning signs* for COVID-19:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- New confusion
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
- Pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone
*This list does not include all possible symptoms. Call your health care provider for other symptoms that are serious or worrisome for you.
Top Boston doctors discuss COVID cases in Massachusetts, the BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant and whether masks should be mandatory for schools in high-risk communities during NBC10 Boston’s weekly “COVID Q&A” series.
When should I get tested?
The CDC outlines several scenarios for getting tested — if you’re experiencing symptoms, if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (as described above), or if you’re going to an indoor event or large gathering. The latter is especially important if you are attending a meeting with high-risk individuals, older adults, anyone who is immunocompromised, or anyone who is unaware of their COVID-19 vaccines, including young children who are not yet vaccinated.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 can manifest itself in different ways. These are the most commonly reported symptoms. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Constipation or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Massachusetts’ latest COVID-19 data
All but three of Massachusetts’ counties are now considered to be at high risk for COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Massachusetts’ COVID stats, tracked on the Department of Health’s interactive coronavirus dashboard, have fallen since the ommicron wave, but cases and hospitalizations are starting to pick up again.
State health officials reported 5,576 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The last time more than 5,000 new cases were reported in one day was at the end of January. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate rose to 8.24% on Thursday, compared to 7.89% on Wednesday. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts schools has also risen significantly, rising 62.6% in the past week.
And the rest of New England?
In New Hampshire, the entire state is now considered high or medium risk. Grafton, Rockingham and Sullivan counties are classified as high risk, while the rest of the state is medium risk.
In Vermont, only Essex County remains low risk. Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Franklin, Orange, Rutland Washington and Windsor are at high risk, while Caledonia, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orleans and Windham counties are at medium risk.
Four counties in Maine — Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot and Piscatiquis — are considered high-risk, while the rest of the state falls into the medium-risk category.
Connecticut, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, Tolland and Windham counties are all high risk, with Fairfield and New London in the medium risk category.
All of Rhode Island remains in the medium-risk category for the second week in a row.
According to the CDC, residents of high-risk counties are urged to wear masks indoors on public and public transportation, stay up to date on vaccines, and get tested if they have symptoms.
Residents in medium-risk areas are encouraged to wear a mask if they have symptoms, test positive, or have exposure to someone with COVID-19. Anyone at high risk for serious illness should also consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions, the CDC says.
Most cases in New England are currently still attributed to the “stealth” omicron variant BA.2, although cases of the BA.2.12.1 subvariant are increasing. Rising cases in South Africa and other countries raise concerns that the US could soon experience another wave of COVID-19.
Despite the increasing cases here, Massachusetts and the other New England states have yet to take steps to roll back mask mandates or other COVID-related restrictions that were relaxed after January’s ommicron-fueled wave.