If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
If it’s been at least 5 days and you have no symptoms (and a negative test, to boot!), you are in the clear to return to your normal activities, though you should continue to wear a mask for 5 additional days. It’s not common, but it’s still possible that you could develop symptoms up to 10 days after your exposure, which is why it’s important to wear a mask around others until Day 10.
First, make sure it’s confirmed before you panic! We’ve seen false alarms that are everything from COVID to chickenpox. If it’s lab-confirmed, send home any close contacts who live with or have a romantic relationship with the sick employee until they have a doctor’s note clearing them to return to work. Sanitize surfaces the employee touched with any standard sanitizer - anything you use for COVID is just fine. Clean any linens, towels, or clothing the employee used very carefully, wearing gloves and a mask, and being careful not to shake virus particles out. Remember to avoid identifying the sick employee or discussing their health with other employees.
No, the exclusion length remains the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who test positive for COVID, at least for now. At least one small study in South Korea showed that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections spread COVID to fewer people and are contagious for a shorter period of time compared to those who are unvaccinated. A major caveat is that the study took place before the Omicron and BA variants that are circulating now. At some point, we might have clearer data which justifies different exclusion lengths depending on vaccination status, but for now we just can’t say for certain how long someone is infectious, especially as the variants continue to change that answer. Until we know that, anyone who tests positive should isolate for at least five days and continue to wear a mask around others for 10.
It’s strange that the flu is circulating in the summer, but we keep seeing cases anyway. There are a few reasons for it. First, there might just not be a great match with the vaccine and the actual strain that’s circulating. Flu vaccines are chosen each year based on the other hemisphere’s flu season, but ultimately it’s a best guess, and some years it’s a better match than others. The pandemic is to blame here, too. Generally a lot of people will get the flu each year, and then those people have some natural immunity for the next year. But the pandemic meant we had very low flu numbers the past two seasons with COVID precautions. This year, flu was rising in the winter but when the Omicron surge hit and people started to mask and distance, it dropped off again. When mask mandates lifted in spring, flu came back - but the longer flu season led to another issue. The yearly flu vaccine wanes in effectiveness over time, so some who are getting the flu in June and July were vaccinated last fall, but aren’t as fully protected this long after their shots. Most experts expect that flu will eventually return to its seasonal cycles once we get through a full winter or two without widespread COVID precautions.
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