The United States is in the midst of a peak in cases with an average of more than 300,000 new cases per day for the first time in the pandemic as the holiday gatherings and travel associated with the proliferation of the highly transmissible variant Omicron have propelled a wave across the country.
As of December 30, there was a daily average of 378,516 positive coronavirus cases, a 201% increase over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Daily counts have increased by 100,000 or more on three consecutive days in the past week. Hospitalizations have increased by 25% in two weeks.
As the Omicron variant crosses communities across the country, many more people, including those who have been vaccinated, will test positive for the coronavirus. Some projections predict millions of new cases next week.
Here’s what you need to know:
What symptoms of Covid should I look for?
Some differences in symptoms between Omicron and other variants have emerged from preliminary data, but experts are not sure whether they are significant. Data published in South Africa suggests that South Africans with Omicron often develop irritation or sore throat accompanied by nasal congestion, dry cough, and muscle pain, especially lower back pain.
Meanwhile, the Delta variant also continues to spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of Covid are fever, dry cough, fatigue, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, loss of taste, or smell and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. .
If you feel sick, get tested immediately.
I don’t feel sick. Do I still have to get tested?
You can get infected without showing any symptoms and spread the virus to others, even if you are vaccinated. It’s always best to get tested for the coronavirus, especially to try to stop the spread of Omicron. Considering the high spread rates in recent weeks, if you’ve been to a large gathering, it’s probably best to get tested.
Current CDC guidelines say people who have been vaccinated do not have to self-quarantine if they have had close contact with someone with Covid, but should get tested five days later. Testing experts, however, say it’s probably not soon enough for Omicron, whose incubation period can be as short as 72 hours. Experts say the best times to test are on Days 2, 3, and 4 after exposure.
What are my testing options?
There are several test options. You can test at home with a drugstore-bought rapid test, or you can go for a PCR test in a lab.
If you tested positive after taking a rapid home test, you may want to do a second home test using a different brand or visit a testing center to confirm the result.
I tested positive. What do I do now?
If you are in public or near people when you hear the news, put on a mask immediately. Then isolate yourself as quickly as possible, even if you have no symptoms.
Last week, the CDC reduced the isolation period from 10 to five days for those who are vaccinated, those without symptoms, or those without a fever whose other symptoms were disappearing.
Americans leaving isolation should wear masks around others for an additional five days after their periods of isolation have ended, officials said.
Some experts, however, called the new guidelines “reckless” and suggested isolating them for longer.
To calculate your isolation window, the CDC advises you to consider day 1 as the first full day. after developing symptoms.