COVID-19 is complicated and the information is always changing. Check out the links below for more information on COVID and how to protect yourself.
COVID tests are good, but not perfect. Antigen tests are excellent in detecting when someone is contagious with COVID-19, but can miss an early infection. PCR/NAA tests are more sensitive, but can still miss a very early infection. This is concerning if you have symptoms (like fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell), are not fully vaccinated, or have had a possible exposure to COVID. If you have any of these, and your test was negative, you should have a repeat test done in the next several days. If you are vaccinated and infected, you may have symptoms several days before a test turns positive (and you become contagious).
You are infected with COVID-19. Immediately isolate yourself (stay away from others) for 5-10 days after a positive test or the start of symptoms; see the CDC website for details and the latest guidelines. You should obtain a pulse oximeter device (from a drugstore or online) to monitor your oxygen levels at home. Call your doctor or come to the Emergency Department if you have difficulty breathing, confusion, rapid pulse, low oxygen levels (less than 93%), or feel you are getting worse. Tell your regular doctor or clinic about your positive result, as new treatments for early COVID-19 may be available. Your doctor is the best person to arrange these treatments, including monoclonal antibodies (which require an IV infusion, often done at a hospital), or new oral medications. Many of these treatments need to be started immediately, and availability can vary – so talk to your doctor right away. If you don’t have a regular doctor, check with your insurance company – telehealth doctors may be available – or call 211 or the help lines below.
All close contacts should be tested, and any unvaccinated close contacts should quarantine for 14 days after COVID exposure. Quarantine rules can vary based on location, employment, and vaccination status. If you have schoolchildren in your home, contact their school immediately to help determine whether they can still go to school, or if they need to quarantine.
The Monterey and Santa Cruz County 211 help lines can help answer questions, and can also help with housing, funds, food, or other resources to help you isolate from others. You can also call (831) 769-8700 in Monterey County, or (831) 455-4242 in Santa Cruz County.