With high COVID rates, what parents need to know about masking and testing: PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

The risk of COVID-19 for people in our community has increased in recent weeks. At the end of April, our case rates put King County COVID-19 at the Intermediate Community Level. Unfortunately, we continue to receive many reports of COVID-19 cases and clusters throughout the community, as well as from schools and kindergartens.

With this increased level of COVID-19, parents may be wondering what to consider when masquerading and testing at this time.

Should my child wear a mask to school and kindergarten?

The risk of COVID-19 exposure is higher than a month ago, both in schools and in the community. Therefore, Public Health has recommended wearing masks and other preventative measures in public indoor areas, especially since we reached the Middle Community Level.

Every family needs to measure the risks and benefits of wearing masks for their children, but at this point, parents need to know that the risk of COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks. Here are some tips for your family:

  • Assess your family’s health risks and take action, especially if your child or family member is immunocompromised or has a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease. Wearing a mask is especially important for people who are at higher risk for serious illness. You may want to talk to your family health care provider about a plan for COVID-19 treatment for those who are at higher risk for serious illness if they become infected.
  • You can also ask your healthcare provider to look at preventive medications for people who are immunocompromised. When taken before an infection or exposure, a medication called Evusheld helps your body fight coronavirus and prevents you from actually getting sick or having to go to the hospital.

If you do not have a health care provider, you can connect your Public Health Community Health Access Programs with your health care provider and health insurance options.

Children can be exposed to COVID-19 in a variety of settings, including school, kindergarten, home, extracurricular activities, family events, and other community-based activities. That’s why it’s important for the entire community to take COVID-19 risk reduction measures and measures, and consider masking other activities in your child’s life. If your child wears a mask at school, but then goes to an indoor party masquerading as a group of other people, especially if there is not good ventilation, then the risk is increased.

What are the guidelines for school and childcare masks now?

Public Health has recently issued updated recommendations for King County schools and child care. Given the growing risk of COVID-19 transmission, Public Health recommends masking among all students and staff Under the influence of COVID-19 to help prevent further spread when there is concern about the ongoing transmission in schools and kindergartens. Public Health recommends this approach, even if it is the only case of infection in school if it is in close contact with others.

This means that masquerades would only be implemented in a specific classroom or group of students, but universal internal masking is recommended for the entire school, depending on the potential spread. In these cases universal internal masking is a recommendation and not a requirement.

It is important that staff and students use high quality masks such as N95, KN95 and KF94 whenever possible.

And if you or your child are exposed to school or child care, take the test immediately and repeat the test every 5-7 days. This can help identify cases and prevent further spread in the school.

How reliable are quick home tests? Do they work for COVID-19 variants?

Quick home tests can help identify people with COVID-19 and spread it to others, but they are not perfect. The quick home test works on all the variants that are currently circulating. We encourage people to use the tests that are available to them, whether it’s a quick home test or a PCR test.

When proper test instructions are followed, self-tests are very good for detecting high viral load of COVID-19, which is when someone is likely to be infected. If you receive a positive result, you can be very confident in that result and you should isolate it.

Rapid tests can be negative in people with COVID-19 at the beginning of the infection, even when the virus level is lower, even if they have symptoms. It may take a few days for the test to be positive as the level of the virus increases. Therefore, a quick negative test cannot “rule out” someone being infected but not yet positive.

Self-tests are more accurate for you test twice if you get a negative result. Perform the second test 24-72 hours after the first. If the test is positive, you should consider yourself infected. That’s because the accuracy of a negative result depends on many factors, such as how long you do the test after exposure and how many viruses there are in your body at that moment.

Make sure you test for at least 5 days after exposure and follow the instructions in the box to get the best chance of an accurate reading.

Consider testing in these situations, even if you have been vaccinated

  • If you experience COVID-19 symptoms immediately, such as cough, fever, or sore throat. If you are symptomatic and have a negative test, stay home and test again within 24-48 hours.
  • He had COVID-19 if you were next to someone, even if he had no symptoms. In this case, it is advisable to test it 5-7 days after exposure.
  • Family reunions, parties or other group events as soon as possible or as close to the time of the event as possible, especially if there are unvaccinated children, the elderly or people who are immunocompromised or at risk of serious illness.
  • Remember to take tests after participating in major indoor events without a mask.

Tips for families traveling on Memorial Day weekend and away

  • Make sure you keep up to date with all recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including booster doses. Boosters provide important hospitalization and protection against death, especially in adults. To find out where to get a booster, visit our vaccination website.
  • Use high-quality, well-fitting masks (N95, KN95, and KF94) in indoor public areas and group meetings.
  • Check the ventilation where you are going. Improving indoor air quality can make a big difference through ventilation, filtration, and other strategies such as germicidal UV technology to reduce the risk. Open windows and doors. It is safer on the outside than on the inside. The EPA provides information on improving indoor air quality.
  • Try it before meeting with high-risk people and before traveling by air.

First published on 22/5/24

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