Keeping ahead of COVID - Albuquerque Journal

Keeping ahead of COVID

As the science and policies regarding COVID-19 continue to evolve, here’s the latest as of January 2022:

The challenge of a COVID 19 test can become crucial quickly, as shared by retired physician John Seibel. In the pandemic, his family has been very careful to limit possible exposure. But after the family gathered at Christmas, one positive test result soon added three more.

John’s wife has metastatic breast cancer and requires routine care. They received a referral for a COVID test. The first test site told them they needed an appointment; a timely one was not available. John told his doctor’s office of the challenge, and staff tried to help with another referral with no success. John then called the oncologist’s office and was told a negative test was needed before coming to the office due to patients being immunocompromised. He tried the Department of Health, there was no answer. Finally, he called a former colleague for help. Over 15 days later they have orders for a drive-through testing site. They are symptom free and hoping for the best.

Vaccines and Boosters

With the high spread rate of omicron, vaccinations and boosters are effective tools to fight COVID-19.

For a free vaccine appointment, go to vaccineNM.org, vaccine.gov, your health care provider or local pharmacy, or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline: 1-855-600-3453.. Seniors and those with disabilities can call 1-800-432-2080 for support with registration and scheduling.

Masks

Regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors.

• Use KN95 or N95 masks whenever possible. Availability has improved. Look for approval by the National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health.

• Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face.

• Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. Add layers, like on disposable mask underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.

Testing

Individuals should take a COVID-19 test if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to or potentially exposed to an individual with COVID-19. Symptoms include cough, fever/chills, shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and new loss of taste or smell.

At-home tests provide results in minutes. If a home test is positive, no further test is needed. PCR (laboratory) test provide results in about 48 hours. Options for tests:

FindATestNM.org

Curative.com (no cost to New Mexicans)

http://learn.vaulthealth.com/nm/ (no cost to New Mexicans)

• Buy at pharmacy or online; look for FDA authorization.

 

I have my COVID-19 At-Home Test Results, now what?

Positive test results

Talk to your health care provider or call the COVID-19 Hotline, 1-855-600-3453.

• You do not need a PCR test.

• Stay home for five days, away from others in your home.

• If you have no symptoms after five days, you can leave your home, but wear a mask for five more days when you leave your home. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever is gone for 24 hours.

• Tell anyone you recently had close contact with.

• If you have been to a large public gathering, contact the COVID-19 Hotline for guidance.

• Seek treatment if you have a COVID-19 positive test, symptoms and risk factors.

Negative test results

If you have symptoms

• Get a PCR test or repeat the at-home test in one to two days.

• Stay home until you know your new results. If positive, follow the positive test result guidelines.

• If results are negative, no additional COVID-19 test is needed. If symptoms continue, follow up with your health care provider.

If you have no symptoms

• If you are up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, wear a mask around others for 10 days. Retest on day five if possible.

• If you are unvaccinated or not up to date on COVID-19 vaccine and booster, stay home for five days. Wear a mask around others for five more days. Retest on day five if possible.

 

What technology is available to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

Exposure notifications are available on cell phones. Within the program, NM Notify can quickly notify you if you’ve likely been exposed to COVID-19.

Those who have at-home positive result for COVID-19 should notify the N.M. Department of Health. Call the COVID-19 Hotline, 1-855-600-3453, and select the option to report a positive result. The exposure notification, NM Notify, on your phone has an option to report a positive COVID-19 test.

My booster has not been recorded in my vaccineNM record; what can I do to record it?

Go to vaccineNM.org to update your profile, including your booster. Go to vaxviewnm.org to verify your vaccine and booster is recorded.

I got my vaccine or booster outside of New Mexico; how do I get it on my record?

You can email a picture of your COVID vaccine card to covid.vaccines@state.nm.us”>href=”http://covid.vac”>covid.vaccines@state.nm.us

What is the process for recording COVID-19 as a contributing factor to a death?

According to an article posted on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) website:

“How death causes are recorded: Part I and II of a death certificate ask what caused a death and what other factors contributed to it. If COVID-19 appears among the causes and contributors, CDC guidance counts that as a COVID-19-related death.

Part I asks for the “immediate cause” of death, followed by any “conditions that led to the immediate cause,” the CDC explains in guidelines for certifying COVID-19 fatalities. For example: In some COVID-19 cases, the immediate cause is an affliction that arose from the disease, such as pneumonia, while COVID-19 gets listed under that as an underlying condition that led to death. In other words, COVID-19 caused the pneumonia.

Part II asks for conditions that did not set off medical events that led to death but contributed in some other way. Here, COVID-19 appears as sort of an accomplice to a fatality that was probably going to occur from something else such as a preexisting, terminal disease, albeit later than if the person had not contracted COVID-19.”

Sources: NM Department of Health COVID-19 Update 1/5/2022. AAMC – https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/how-are-covid-19-deaths-counted-it-s-complicated. CDC- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 2021 Case Definition. https://ndc.services.cdc.gov/case-definitions/coronavirus-disease-2019-2021/. CDC – Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/vsrg/vsrg03-508.pdf.

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