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COVID-19 Testing Guidance

The new year has begun with record high COVID-19 infections across the state and throughout the U.S. In this update, we will provide the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on when to get tested and what to do if you test positive for COVID-19. This guidance has been developed based on what is currently known about COVID-19 infections and is subject to change as additional information becomes available.

What should I do if I am sick or am exposed to COVID-19? 

If you start to feel sick, you should get tested immediately. If you are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, it is recommended to get tested on day five and to wear a mask for ten days. When exposed to COVID-19, if you feel sick before or after day five, get tested or re-test when symptoms occur. As you wait for your test results, please wear a mask and social distance from others.

People who have been exposed and were recently fully vaccinated or received a booster shot, do not need to quarantine; those who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine for five days. Some fully vaccinated people will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed, these are called vaccine breakthrough infections. Nothing is 100 percent effective and that includes vaccines, but research shows COVID-19 vaccinations offer you protection from severe illness, hospitalizations and death, even against new variants including Omicron. Even if you have had COVID-19, vaccination is recommended. Research has shown that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from previous COVID-19 infections. The vast majority of individuals being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

Recent data suggest vaccine effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time so it is important to get a booster shot. Data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier, or who received a J&J/Janssen single-dose vaccine two months earlier. People ages twelve and older who completed their primary vaccine series at least five months ago are eligible to receive a booster shot. Moderately to severely immunocompromised children ages five through eleven should get an additional dose of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second shot. Learn more about booster shot eligibility by clicking here. You may find a testing and vaccination site below.

What happens if I test positive?

  • Isolate for 5 full days, even if you are boosted or fully vaccinated with no symptoms. You can leave isolation when at least 5 days have passed since your symptoms began (or since your positive test, if you have no symptoms). Only leave isolation if you have no fever and do not need fever-reducing medication such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen).
    • Keep apart from others in your home as much as possible (including pets). Use a separate bedroom and bathroom if you can. If the sick person has to be around others, everyone in the home should wear a face mask.
      • Open a window with a fan blowing air outside the house for good air flow and to decrease the concentration of COVID-19 virus in the air.
      • Clean all surfaces that are touched often, such as light switches, refrigerator handles, and doorknobs.
    • Isolation can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. We encourage you to stay in touch with loved ones and friends by telephone or internet.
  • Alert close contacts & work contacts.
    • A close contact is anyone who was within six feet of you (approximately two arm lengths) for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
    • Do not go into a work facility until your isolation period ends.
    • Use this example to cut and paste into an email or text message, or to say over the phone:
      • I have something important to share with you. I tested positive for COVID-19 on [insert date]. We spent time together on [insert date]. I wanted to let you know so that you can get tested to protect your family and to prevent the virus from spreading any further. You can find a testing site at hawaiicovid19.com/testing-isolation-quarantine/.
    • According to CDC guidelines, you do not need a negative test to end your isolation. If you take a test coming out of isolation and your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day ten.
  • Monitor your symptoms
    • Get rest, eat healthy, and drink lots of fluids.
    • If you have underlying health conditions, notify your doctor that you have COVID-19. If your symptoms get worse, call your doctor immediately.
    • If you have a medical emergency, for example, trouble breathing or persistent chest pain, call 911 and inform the dispatcher that you have COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19, it is not your fault. Testing positive for COVID-19 can be a stressful experience and it may be hard to tell your close contacts when a lot of emotions arise. Remember to have grace and compassion for yourself. If a close contact tells you that they have COVID-19, show empathy and thank them for their honesty, bravery, and desire to watch out for others. Thank you for getting tested when sick or exposed to COVID-19 and for sticking with us on this journey as we learn more about COVID-19 infections and how to best protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Stay safe and be well,

The HIPHI Team

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