I TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, HAVE MILD TO MODERATE SYMPTOMS, AND AM HIGH RISK FOR DEVELOPING SEVERE ILLNESS—WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
If you are high risk, have tested positive for COVID-19, and have mild to moderate symptoms, there are treatment options that may help you and others at high risk for severe illness stay out of the hospital and/or avoid progression to severe disease.
High-risk individuals include older adults and people with underlying conditions, such as cancer, heart and lung conditions, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, sickle cell, or compromised immune systems.
I TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 BUT MY SYMPTOMS ARE MILD — WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
Be sure to follow the advice of your doctor. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 6 days, you may be eligible to join a treatment clinical trial for patients recently diagnosed who have mild to moderate symptoms and don’t require hospitalization.
If your symptoms are mild and you are caring for yourself at home, take these steps to help your recovery and avoid spreading the disease:
- Follow the advice of your doctor.
- Isolate yourself for 14 days. You should not go to work or school. Avoid public places and public transportation or ride shares.
- Advise anyone you’ve had contact with during the last week to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
- Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home to the extent possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if available.
- Drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen to reduce fever.
- Make sure any caregivers stay at least 6 feet away and both of you should wear a mask.
- Wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces, especially those that are touched by other people in your household (doorknobs, phones, remotes, taps, etc.).
- If you must leave home, to seek medical care for example, wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
If your symptoms get worse, you should call your healthcare provider immediately. Tell the healthcare provider that you have tested positive for COVID-19. This will help the office take steps to keep other people from being exposed.
If you or someone else is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Confusion you have not experienced before
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
While there is no way of knowing how any one person will react to a SARS-CoV-2 infection or the COVID-19 disease, the numbers are encouraging. The vast majority of people survive COVID-19—more than 99.5% depending on patient age and other health conditions for those infected and enrolled in the healthcare system. There is presently no cure for COVID-19 but healthcare providers are using several treatments for those with more serious symptoms to help the body fight the disease and minimize the long-term impact of the disease. A conversation with your healthcare provider will help determine which treatments are appropriate for you.
Help find treatments that work
Because the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a novel or new virus, we are still learning about it. Hundreds of trials for COVID-19 treatments are looking for volunteers now. As of August 31, 2020, more than 310 medication and treatment trials were active and more than 590 programs were in the planning stages.
Patients with COVID-19 infections are critical for the success of drug trials. One of the largest needs is for a diverse population of individuals from all backgrounds. This disease behaves differently across gender, race, and age so it is important for research to represent all of America.
Knowledge gained from these trials will help others in their own fight against the disease.
First FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19
Remdesivir: This is the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized adults and pediatric patients at least 12 years of age. Remdesivir, also known as Veklury, is in a class of medications called antivirals. It works by stopping the virus from spreading in the body.
Treatments Authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use
COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma: Convalescent plasma is blood plasma taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19. It contains antibodies that can recognize and neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other components that may contribute to an immune response.
Bamlanivimab: This treatment is authorized for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are 12 years of age and older, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. This includes people who are 65 years of age or older or have certain chronic medical conditions.
Casirivimab and Imdevimab: These treatments, administered together, are authorized for patients 12 years of age or older who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19. This includes those who are 65 years of age or older or who have certain chronic medical conditions.
Baricitinib in combination with Remdesivir: These treatments are authorized for hospitalized patients two years of age or older requiring supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to treat suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19.
Other Drugs: Other drugs and medications are used to slow or lessen the virus’s growth and spread in the body, enhance breathing, provide laboratory-produced disease-fighting antibodies, and other functions.
Recovering from COVID-19 can take time and patience. One study found that more than half of the patients surveyed were still feeling fatigue 60 days after their first COVID-19 symptoms appeared; four in 10 still had labored breathing and more than a quarter still had joint pain. Mental and emotional health effects, such as memory problems, difficulty focusing, anxiety, and depression are also common among people who have had COVID-19. The severity of these issues increases with patients who had preexisting conditions.
The collection of physical and mental health symptoms reported by people who have had COVID-19 is often referred to as Post-COVID syndrome. Health researchers are studying it today, but agree it is too early to say which of these issues are directly related to the virus and which are the result of a compromised immune system. It’s important for those with lingering physical and mental health effects of COVID-19 to work with medical professionals who can monitor, diagnose, and treat their symptoms. Your primary care doctor may need to call on different specialists to develop the best rehabilitation strategy for your symptoms.