If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
It’s actually true that rapid tests - and even PCR tests - are not as good at detecting Omicron as they were at detecting previous variants. We’re not 100% sure why, but testing expert (and our friend) Mara Aspinall writes that we know that it’s not because the tests don’t work on this new virus (they do), it’s more likely that there are just fewer virus particles in nasal samples with this variant, or that Omicron is just better at getting into our bodies. Regardless, the outcome is that it can sometimes take one or even two full days of having symptoms before a COVID test reflects that someone is positive. It’s absolutely crucial that sick people are isolating whenever they have symptoms, even if the first test is negative. Two tests 48 hours apart are a much better measure of whether you’re contagious than one test.
There will almost certainly continue to be new variants of COVID regularly for the foreseeable future. Our best hope is that each new variant continues to make the virus more easily spread but less dangerous for those infected. That’s what’s been happening with the latest variants, but there’s no guarantee that the next variant is less dangerous. Our best bet is that there will be new subvariants this winter, at the minimum, but our hope is that getting more of the population boosted against the current Omicron variants will help keep that in check.
Ultimately, we still think it’s a good idea to let individuals know if they’ve been in close contact with someone COVID+ so that they can mask, monitor for symptoms, and test themselves on Day 6. We know it’s operationally challenging, though. Some of our clients are still doing full contact tracing and calling exposed employees to let them know - this may be required in states with regulations requiring sick pay for those who are exposed at work. Others are just blanket notifying the entire team who worked with the sick employee and encouraging them to get tested without following up beyond that. Whatever policy you choose, you should check with your legal team to ensure that you’re federal and state-OSHA compliant.
You’re not imagining it! Everyone, but especially children, is getting the usual “common” colds and viruses that all but disappeared due to our prevention measures over the past few years. The issue is that we usually have a certain level of immunity built up due to exposure to and infection with common colds and flus throughout the year, but we haven’t been exposed to those very much (if at all) since the pandemic began, so we’re more vulnerable now that they’re back in circulation. These colds and flus are very difficult to tell apart from COVID, and they’re just as disruptive to business operations - so make sure that people know to stay home if they’re sick, even if they test negative for COVID.