How to tell your network you have Covid-19

As the pandemic enters the second half of its third year, infectious, immune-evading variants of Covid-19 are driving another surge in infections. Covid-19 fatigue and official case data may show a modest surge in positive cases, but home test results are largely ignored in published data. As many public testing sites have been shut down, just as the testing infrastructure has turned largely human, so has contact tracing. If someone tests positive for Covid-19, it is the person’s responsibility to inform their network.

“Compared to a few years ago, these conversations aren’t as widely accepted,” says Donald Yeley, MD, chief physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Sharing this is a blessing.”

You tell them you’ve recently been sick, and you’re educating them about getting tested and isolating, especially to the elderly or immunocompromised to hopefully prevent the spread.

Tell anyone

You don’t need to notify everyone on your contact list that you have Covid-19, but you should notify people who may have the virus from you, Yealy says: People you were within six years of being at home – with or without a mask – and two days before you started showing symptoms. people who have been outdoors during the period or within easy reach of the two-day period before the test if you have no symptoms.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to report exposure for 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, “the virus spreads easily right now,” Yealy says. “Guess how close I was and how long it was? If you’re really close, feet away or in physical contact, you don’t need 15 minutes. Think: intimate partners, roommates, family members who live together, co-workers, friends you’ve seen recently, your child’s teacher (if your child tests positive), the hosts of a party or wedding you’re attending.

Party hosts or organizers of events with more than a few people should tell as many attendees as possible if they have come with Covid-19 or another guest. “We often don’t know all the health conditions [other attendees]”, says Yeli. “We have a hard time determining the extent of the connection and how close it is. I would advise sharing information more widely.” For example, etiquette expert Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute and author of a number of etiquette books, is the fourth friend of a friend. When he tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a party in July, he sent a message to his host to inform the other attendees.

If you’re at an event with an older person or someone you know has a health condition, even if you don’t necessarily interact with them, “I would let them know because they’re at a higher risk of infection,” Yealy says.

Sure, there are people you don’t know—the servers at the restaurant, your friends at the party—but you should make an effort to connect with everyone you’re close to, Yealy says.

When to share

If you are sick enough to warrant testing, you should start reporting to the network that you may have Covid. Given the relative availability of rapid tests, you can quickly establish a diagnosis after symptoms appear. But if you’re waiting for an appointment or PCR test results, you can tell your roommates, for example, that you’ve been exposed or that you’re under the weather. Yealy warns that anyone with respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms should not attend social events, work or school.

Of course, once you get a positive diagnosis, whether it’s a rapid or PCR test, you should follow up on your close contact list. The sooner you notify your network, the better, as available treatments and antivirals are often most effective early in the infection.

How to notify your network

When it comes to the current message and delivery method, communicate with your contacts as you normally would. Prefer texting over phone calls? Go to it. Do you usually email book club members? Select an email address. “Communicate with people the way you usually communicate with them, because that’s what they’re most interested in,” says Post.

Be as direct as possible in your delivery and stick to the facts: tell us when you test positive and if you have any symptoms. The post suggests something along the lines of “I just wanted to let you know that I tested positive for Covid-19 today.” The last time we saw each other through the window, I could have taken it and distributed it to others.’ The same applies to everyone from your friends and family to your boss or children’s school. “I would keep it very factual and straightforward,” says Yealy.

We may be tempted to apologize for offending others, but remember that you didn’t mean to get hurt, says marriage and family therapist Abby Krom. Accidents happen. “We tend to blame ourselves because it’s hard to admit that we’re out of control,” she says. “So it’s easy to feel in control, even if you’re blaming yourself.” For example, if you offer an in-house meal plan despite your friend’s desire to eat out, you can say, “I mitigated the risk and realized it was wrong,” Krom says.

If you are informing your guests on behalf of another guest who has been sick, do not mention their name and say, “I just wanted to let you know that another guest tested positive.”

Control of reactions

A diagnosis of Covid-19 is less embarrassing than it was two years ago – about 82 percent of people in the United States have been infected with the virus at least once, but some people may have negative reactions. sharing news. When people are angry or afraid, they may react with knee-jerk reactions; “How could you be so careless?” or “I should have gone to my cousin’s wedding. I can’t believe he’s going to risk it.”

Consider whether what they say is true or not: Were you careless? Have you knowingly jeopardized their health or travel plans? “Our instinct is to apologize or admit fault, but that’s not a healthy instinct because it’s not our job,” Krom says. You may need to allow the person’s space to cool. Then, to start the conversation later, say, “I can tell you’re really upset. Do you still feel that way? Can we talk more about this?’ Chrome offers.

Another reaction may be genuine curiosity: where you think you caught Covid-19, or a friend who described your symptoms. According to the post, this means your network has access to this information so they can determine when they should test and whether they should start notifying their networks of potential exposures. However, you don’t have to disclose everything, Krom says. If you don’t want to share, try replying with, “I’m a little overwhelmed and still digesting the news.”

In fact, Post says, most people are grateful to understand and be understood. Of the two dozen or so people he informed about his Covid diagnosis, none were upset. “I felt guilty about the party I went to and having to tell these people, ‘I might have exposed you to Covid,’ and they were really gracious about it,” Post says. “So when someone tells you it exists, be kind. Don’t go into fear-first mode. Go for information and questions. Be curious and investigate.”

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