Here's what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 in Arizona
Medical experts say it’s critical for anyone over age 5 to get vaccinated for COVID-19 to avoid infection. Anyone over 18 should also get a booster shot to improve immunity against the highly infectious omicron variant of the virus. Boosters are recommended two months after an initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or six months after the initial doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
As cases increase nationwide, experts say it's also important for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask anytime you’re indoors in public.
Hear KJZZ's Katherine Davis-Young discuss the rising COVID-19 cases with Host Mark Brodie on The Show
But as the omicron variant gains dominance in Arizona, experts expect a lot more COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people and breakthrough infections among vaccinated people to occur. Here's what the state health department recommends if you test positive for the virus.
Confirm your case and report it
If you take an at-home COVID-19 test and it turns up positive, that’s a good indication you’re infected, said Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services. She also suggested you may want to confirm the result with a more sensitive test.
"You can go get that test confirmed with a PCR test by visiting preferably a drive-through location where you're not exposing others," Rigler said.
Testing sites in Maricopa County are listed at maricopa.gov. Pharmacies and drive-through testing sites will report positive COVID-19 cases to the state, but Rigler said you can report your own positive home test, too.
"You can call to report that to your doctor or healthcare provider. That's how that data would get reported out through the state's data," Rigler said.
Isolate at home
When you test positive for the virus, Rigler said the most important thing to do is to avoid giving it to anyone else, even in your own household.
“If possible, you use a separate bathroom, separate bedroom, wear a mask if you have to be in a common space, and don’t share any dishes with other family members,” Rigler said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends anyone who tests positive for the virus isolate for five days.
Rigler said if you've had no fever for 24 hours and your symptoms have resolved at the end of the recommended isolation period, you may resume normal activities. The CDC recommends you continue to wear a mask around others for at least five more days following isolation.
Help notify your close contacts
If you’ve been in contact with anyone while you may have been contagious, let them know.
You may also receive a call from state or county contact tracers.
According to the state health department, “When someone tests positive for COVID-19, their test results are shared with public health to begin a case investigation. An investigator assigned to the case calls the COVID-19 positive individual to collect information about their illness, explore where they may have contracted the disease and to discuss anyone they spent time with. Once a case has identified their contacts, contact tracing begins. If you do not receive a call from public health, please call 623-232-8504.”
If you're high-risk, seek early interventions
Rigler suggested anyone with risk factors such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, asthma or obesity should look into monoclonal antibody therapy right away if they contract COVID-19.
"It's recommended you receive monoclonal antibodies within the first few days of your symptoms starting, ideally within the first five days," Rigler said. "It's not just hospitals that provide these therapies, there are many outpatient clinics as well that provide them."
Monoclonal antibody treatments in Arizona can be found at azdhs.gov.
Monitor your health
Most COVID-19 cases do not require hospitalization, but the virus can be very dangerous. Rigler said it’s important to rest at home, but pay close attention to your symptoms.
"Make sure that you're getting lots of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and monitoring your health so that if you're seeing significant issues with breathing or other significant health concerns you can reach out to your healthcare provider," Rigler said.
Go to the emergency room if you're having trouble breathing
If you have a pulse oximeter at home, Rigler suggested monitoring your oxygen levels. But if you’re having difficulty breathing, Rigler said it’s important to get medical care right away.
"If you have significant trouble breathing, that is the time to go into the emergency room to seek hospital care," Rigler said.