It’s certainly concerning, and we think that all of our clients should be prepared to see a pretty massive surge in cases over the next month or so, likely peaking in mid-January much like it did last year. One expert called it a ‘viral blizzard,’ and unfortunately, we think that sounds about right. Our own clinical team is seeing a huge uptick in cases this week from employee wellness checks and sick calls. The UK and South Africa already hit their highest single-day case counts at any point in the pandemic this week, and cases are already up a whopping 41% over the past two weeks. All that plus holiday gatherings and travel mean we’re prepared for a serious surge that’s already started and likely won’t peak until mid-January.
Don’t ignore that cough - it might not be just a cold! Make sure that you stay home if you’re feeling sick, even if it means rescheduling plans you’re excited about. Unvaccinated people should delay travel, since their risk is much higher for getting COVID and being much more sick with it. If you can, test 1-3 days before your trip and 3-5 days after you return - this is a must for unvaccinated people, but definitely can’t hurt even if you’re vaccinated. Wear a mask in public places - including planes and other public transportation. And last but not least, think about how and where you’ll quarantine wherever you’re going if you do get sick during your travels.
You should wait 10 days from when your symptoms start to get a vaccine or booster if you’re currently sick. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to reach peak effectiveness, and it won’t make you feel better any sooner, so there’s no immediate benefit to getting boosted while sick. Plus, you’ll put the healthcare workers who are giving out vaccines at risk by going to the clinic when you might be infectious. It’s better to stay home, and get your shot as soon as you meet the criteria for ending your self-isolation.
If you don’t have any symptoms, the best day to test after exposure is Day 5 through Day 7. If you develop symptoms of your own, you can (and should) test immediately and self-isolate. PCR tests are the most accurate, but two rapid tests taken 24 hours apart are similarly accurate. If you get a single rapid negative, we wouldn’t bank on that, but two a day apart are much more reliable. If someone is unvaccinated, they should still quarantine for 10 full days. Someone vaccinated and exposed doesn’t need to quarantine, but should wear a mask until they test negative on days 5-7.