COVID-19’s latest variant Omicron is not letting up. Last week’s active case count went from 98 to now 411 active cases for Medina County. The holidays, a lag in reporting time, and testing resources have impacted our counts. With a large number of people home testing, those results are not reported and this makes tracking COVID cases difficult. Hospital data will be very important looking ahead at the severity of disease versus cases of disease as our driving factor of how we learn to live with this. So, right now, COVID case counts are high, there are many people with cold-like symptoms, and they may be unaware they have COVID. We also have flu circulating and it’s allergy season along with the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Symptoms being so similar, testing is the only way to know what you have for sure. On that, testing is not 100% accurate and with a rapid test, you should test on day 3-5 of symptom onset to get the more accurate result. Lots of information is confusing right now, and things change fast.
So, what can you do if you have symptoms and what about testing? First, if your symptoms are mild, stay home. If you have difficulty breathing, or symptoms worsen then see your PCP, urgent care, or ER if you need to. Check with your PCP to see if they have COVID protocols that you can follow at home. Testing is difficult to get, why? Because everyone wants it now. It’s like toilet paper. None on the shelves, but eventually there will be as demand falls and supply catches up. Also, test kits expire, so stockpiling them doesn’t always work. To make tests even more scarce, many need the test for work and some for college to comply with their organizations rules on COVID if they are not vaccinated. So, if you can’t get a test because of the demand, and if you don’t need it for work or school and you are not in a vulnerable category of people then stay home if you are sick and that is what you should do anyway idea. We have not received any free testing and there is a very limited supply. Supply is going to those in most need of it like hospitals and EMS services and large testing sites. Free testing from government sources could still be weeks out when we need it now. Larger testing sites are popping up in SA so this is an option. Look for at-home testing kits at your local pharmacy, HEB or Walmart if you can get them or you could check online. Check with your doctor’s office as well to see if they have testing.
The Health Unit doesn’t do COVID testing or see sick persons. We do, however, encourage you to come in for a COVID-19 vaccine and booster dose if it is your time. Prevention is the best medicine. Some think vaccination isn’t working because both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are getting infected with the Omicron variant. Vaccination should still protect from severe disease and this is why it is our best tool. It will be hard to avoid COVID right now but we can still do the same things we have been doing and use our prevention tools. Wear a mask in crowded places or avoid crowds, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and get vaccinated. Cases are high but severe illness is not looking like it is the case with Omicron, so we will get through this and cases will hopefully come down as quickly as they have gone up. Hang in there everyone.
Updates to Vaccines: CDC now recommends a booster dose for everyone aged 12 and older. Boosters recommended: 5 months after Pfizer series, 5 months after initial Moderna series, and 2 months after initial Janssen (J&J).
The Health Unit has all COVID-19 vaccines and you can register for any online at vaccine.medinatx.org.
Isolation and Quarantine Guidance (no updates from last week but as a reminder):
Isolation (for those who are positive with COVID-19) A simple rule is to stay home if you are sick, even with cold symptoms. Get tested if you can. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others. CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation to 5 days followed by 5 days of wearing a mask. This is if you don’t have symptoms, if symptoms have improved and if you don’t have a fever. However, for those whose symptoms have not improved or have a fever, it is recommended to isolate for 10 days after symptoms onset.
Quarantine (for those exposed to someone who has COVID-19) For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by mask use for an additional 5 days. If a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, they should wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but it is recommended to wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, best practice includes a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
VACCINE DATA UPDATE (Numbers in parenthesis are the estimated change since 1/3/2022)
People that are fully vaccinated age 5 and older:
Medina County 55.08% from 54.74% (65+ fully vaccinated 76.08%)
Texas 61.57% from 61.03%
CASE DATA UPDATE (Numbers in parenthesis are the estimated change since 1/3/2022)
Confirmed Cases: 5,274
Probable Cases: 2,299
Fatalities: 174 (+1)
Active Cases: 411 (+313)
By Patricia Mechler
Medina County Health Unit