We’re starting to hear promising news. Experts are describing how, in various geographic regions, social distancing and sheltering-at-home is “flattening the curve” of new cases of severe COVID-19 illness.
All those favorable models about “shifting trajectories” are nevertheless blunted by the fact that thousands of Americans will still succumb to this pandemic in the weeks ahead. It’s a very sad situation, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.
I liken it to a total solar eclipse: It’s been so dark, have we started to see that first sliver of sunlight yet, or is it my imagination? Well, a large number of folks who contracted COVID-19 and endured its effects have now clinically recovered, are pent up with boredom like the rest of us, and are eager to return to a normal life. Has the “ALL CLEAR” signal been given to these fortunate people?
Memo to All: Not so fast!
We’ve known all along that the vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 infections resulted in either no symptoms (while still contagious to others), or a manageable flu-like illness that responded to traditional at-home therapy.
But when is someone who has recovered from their symptoms no longer contagious? When is it safe to remove that mask? Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued preliminary guidelines for isolated, symptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals not residing in a healthcare setting whose health has improved.
Let’s make sense of the ALL CLEAR criteria that qualifies as a COVID-19 cure:
1. Resolution of fever: 72 hours have passed without fever and without the use of fever-reducing medication; and
2. Improvement of respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
3. At least seven full days have passed since symptoms first appeared
Negative results from two nasal swab COVID-19 tests taken at least 24 hours apart.
For individuals with confirmed COVID-19 who have experienced no symptoms, they may discontinue isolation seven days following their initial positive COVID-19 test.
Let’s be clear: ALL CLEAR does not mean “back to normal.” The CDC acknowledges that discontinuation of isolation is only the first step. Individuals need to continue to limit contact with others (6-feet social distancing) and continue wearing a covering for their nose and mouth (bandana, scarf, cloth mask) to reduce dispersal of respiratory droplets. Use of medical face masks or N95 respirators is not necessary.
This is clear and easy-to-follow guidance while we wait for those first rays of sunlight to signal the beginning of the end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brighter days are ahead.
Doctor Lloyd is a licensed physician and a board-certified surgeon and pathologist. As Health Director for Transamerica Advanced Markets, he provides valuable medical expertise for Transamerica’s Wealth + HealthSMthought leadership initiative.
Transamerica Resources, Inc. is an Aegon company and is affiliated with various companies which include, but are not limited to, insurance companies and broker dealers. Transamerica Resources, Inc. does not offer insurance products or securities. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as insurance, securities, ERISA, tax, investment, legal, medical, or financial advice or guidance. Please consult your personal independent professionals for answers to your specific questions.