May is Mental Health Awareness month. We’re proud to join the movement to bring more awareness to mental health issues that are facing your employees and communities.
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.
Antiviral treatment is an incredibly effective tool that can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of illness in anyone, regardless of their vaccination status. It must be taken in the first five days after symptom onset, and usually needs a positive test and a prescription to get it, so it can take a few days to get it even if you decide early on that you want the oral pill. In that sense, we do think it’s a great idea to educate your employees on the fact that oral pills are available, and to ask their doctor or the place where they go to get tested about the antiviral option. That said, it’s very much a decision between a patient and their doctor. Some doctors like to wait until there’s an indication that someone might be severely ill, others like to get out ahead of it. And on top of all that, we’re hearing that it can actually be very hard to get – sometimes requiring people to leave their own town to find a pharmacy that has oral pills in stock. All in all, we think it’s a good idea to encourage employees to discuss the possibility of antiviral medication with their doctor, to at least inform them that it’s something they can talk about and an option that may be right for them if their doctor agrees.
Unfortunately, you can have strep along with other illnesses, including documented cases of people who have both strep and COVID, though it’s very rare. Strep is very common in those under 40, with the highest incidence occurring in kids aged 5-15. Complicating things is the fact that sore throat is a more common symptom with the latest COVID variants, meaning that it can be hard to tell the difference between the two illnesses. It’s also possible to get both strep and the flu - because Strep is bacterial and Flu and COVID are viral, it’s actually not uncommon to get both because one weakens the immune system so that you’re more susceptible to the other. Most doctor’s offices or hospitals will test someone with sore throat as a major symptom for strep, flu, and COVID, so it should be a relatively quick turnaround to find out which one you have.
We’ve also heard some rumors of people stockpiling antiviral oral medications for COVID, though the extent of it is unclear. You need a prescription and a positive COVID test in order to get the pills, so the logistics of companies or individuals stockpiling in large numbers would be extremely challenging. That said, we know that countries and even local governments, who can buy the medications in bulk to prepare for public health needs, are indeed stockpiling it, and some locations have more available than others. During the swine flu outbreak, individuals and companies stockpiled Tamiflu, but many experts criticized that.
It’s possible that the faintness or darkness of the line on your rapid COVID test (and the speed at which it shows up) are indicative of the amount of viral load you have in your nose at the time, but that’s not the whole story. At the end of the day, these tests were not designed to tell us how infectious you are, only if you’re infectious at all. The reason for that is simple - we still don’t really know just how much virus someone needs in order to infect others. Tests aren’t designed to show us just how much viral load you have since that’s not actionable information. If your test has any line at all - faint or not - you should consider yourself contagious, unless it’s been a full 10 days since your symptoms first started, and your symptoms have significantly improved, with no fever for at least 24 hours. If you’re still within the 10 days and testing positive with a dark line, consider yourself contagious and isolate appropriately.