New Guidance for New COVID Community Level
Following the CDC's designation of Dubuque County as High COVID Community Level last week and as new positive cases remaining high in the county, the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team is encouraging county residents to follow the CDC guidance:
- Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
- If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease:
- Wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection
- Consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take other precautions (e.g., testing)
- Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
- If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease:
- consider self-testing to detect infection before contact
- consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
- Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
- Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
Additionally, the incident management team is reminding county residents of the importance of isolating/quarantining and testing to reduce the current spread of COVID in Dubuque County.
If you have any COVID symptoms, even if they are mild, you should quarantine or wear a mask around others. In many cases, especially among those who are up to date on vaccinations, the Omicron subvariant currently dominant in Dubuque County is giving people mild symptoms. As a result, people may think they have cold or allergy symptoms but are inadvertently spreading COVID, potentially to people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at risk of serious illness from COVID. CLICK HERE for CDC guidance on quarantine/isolation.
If you have COVID symptoms, or were exposed to a positive COVID case, it is important to get tested. Rapid tests are available at most local pharmacies and your insurance may cover the cost or reimburse you for the cost (Please verify with your insurance company.) Additionally, every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a third round of free at-home tests by visiting www.covid.gov/tests or by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).
Some residents are reporting false negative tests from rapid tests taken when no symptoms are present or symptoms are very mild. If you take a rapid test and the result is negative, but you were exposed, please consider testing again in at least 24 hours. Please remember, after an exposure, it could be up to five days before you develop COVID so it is important to quarantine or mask during this period.
Due to the possibility of false negative rapid tests, the incident management team encourages residents to take a PCR test, which is more accurate and can detect COVID earlier in an infection than a rapid test. Free PCR test kits are available through the Test Iowa program and can be picked up at multiple locations in Dubuque County. You can also request to have Test Iowa kits delivered to your home by visiting www.testiowa.com.