Sick? Think you might have COVID-19? Here's what you should do, according to health officials.
If you've become ill and are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your physician prior to going to any clinic. He or she will screen you over the phone and prepare the clinic to accept you.
"Usually they're taken straight back to the room so they can be tested, and sometime they're tested in their car, depending on each facility's protocols," said Brett Kallis, director of nurses for Southwest District Health Unit.
Your sample will be sent to the state laboratory in Bismarck for testing, and you should have results within two to three days, provided to you by your health provider.
While waiting for your test results, you should self-isolate in your home and separate yourself from others in your household as much as possible. If you cannot completely separate yourself from others in your home, the North Dakota Department of Health advises you to avoid close contact.
"Do not snuggle, kiss or share food or drink and remember to wash your hands often. Avoid sharing dishes, cups, utensils, towels, bedding and other personal items in the home until they can be washed with soap and water. Clean all high-touch surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, toilets, phones, etc.) at least daily if not more often. Utilize household cleaning sprays and wipes according to the label instructions. Face masks can be worn when around other people or pets."
If your test results indicate that you are positive for COVID-19, continue to remain in your home, separate yourself from others in your home and monitor your symptoms. If you experience any of the following warning signs, call your health care provider immediately: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.
A contract tracer will contact you for a list of people with whom you've been in contact since two days prior to the onset of your symptoms. They will then call those people, and you and them will need to self-isolate and monitor your symptoms. A public health worker will contact you once a day for you to report your symptoms.
Do not share drinks, utensils, bedding, towels or other personal items with others, and wash them after use. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing or using the bathroom. Continue to disinfect shared surfaces.
Remain in isolation at home until risk of transmission is low. According to the health department, this means, "You must remain at home isolated until seven days have passed since your symptom onset and you have been fever-free (have a temperature below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) for 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and respiratory symptoms are improving."
However, if you are a health care worker or immunocompromised (i.e., HIV, take immunosuppressive medications, stem cell or bone marrow transplant), you must also have two negative COVID-19 tests, 24 hours apart.
If your results are negative, you should still remain home until you are fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours and your symptoms have improved.
"When someone would test negative, it means that their viral load isn't high enough, so there could be a possibility that they could be a false negative, so continuing to watch for symptoms and monitor is the best thing," Kallis said.