Someone at work is getting tested for covid19, should I avoid my family?
March 13, 2020 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Word just came down via official email that someone where I work has respiratory illness and is being tested for Covid-19. The results won't be in until next week. Unfortunately I had a couple meetings in the building where the person works on tuesday. Last night I started getting a postnasal drip and sore throat, which is not common for Covid-19, but not great for piece of mind.

Should I keep separate from my family until the test results come back (not easy, but possible)? I can't figure out from the various websites like CDC if you can be infectious before you show symptoms. Already staying home and out of public. I'm home alone right now, cleaning everything with lysol wipes...
posted by 445supermag to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can be infectious while asymptomatic, yes
posted by shaademaan at 2:09 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Do you live with your family?
posted by overglow at 2:20 PM on March 13, 2020

Response by poster: Yes, wife and three kids in school/college.
posted by 445supermag at 2:27 PM on March 13, 2020

Actually the sore throat is extremely common, so you are not asymptomatic for COVID-19.
posted by HotToddy at 2:35 PM on March 13, 2020

Here are the most relevant CDC guidelines.
posted by overglow at 3:04 PM on March 13, 2020

I'd say wear a mask around the house and maybe have your spouse take over cleaning duties, food prep, etc. That's probably about as extreme as you need to get, until you're sure if you've got this thing. Wishing you good health!

Years ago somebody did an online horror story about a growing zombie apocalypse as told by made up screenshots from various real websites. Metafilter was one of them. Today feels a little too much like that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

Keep checking your temperature.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:57 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Actually the sore throat is extremely common

Sore throat is NOT extremely common (less than 15%); I haven't seen reports of sore throat in the absence of other, more common symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath. This may change as more people test positive and we have a better understanding of the disease spectrum.

Also remember that COVID-19 is probably NOT airborne transmission (where particles linger in the air after an infected individual has left the room). If it were, it's R0 (infectivity rate) would be much, much higher. It is likely a combination of droplet (directly being sneezed/coughed on or talked at from < 6 ft) and fomite (touching communal surfaces like doorknobs and elevator buttons; new data suggests it can linger for up to 72 hr on surfaces). Asymptomatic transmission is uncertain, but I have read at least one report from the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting it's possible.

OP: please follow the CDC recommendations linked above. Other things you may want to consider:
-- Check your temperature twice a day (under the tongue is fine, but wait 30 min after eating, and wash off the thermometer with soap and water after) and keep a log.
-- Hand-washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is better than hand sanitizer (soap disrupts the lipid viral envelope better than alcohol-based sanitizer). Sanitizer is fine for a situation where you are away from a sink, but it does not replace hand-washing.
-- Given the new info about fomite transmission, disinfecting wipes are a good idea.
-- Stay 6+ feet away from others if you can (this is approx how far virus-infused droplets can travel during talking, coughing, sneezing).
-- General preventative measures like coughing into your elbow, etc.

Your locality, or the nearest academic medical center, may have a coronavirus hotline for more information. It's a challenging and rapidly changing situation. Hopefully the individual being tested will be negative, and this will all be out of an abundance of caution!
posted by basalganglia at 7:45 AM on March 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: fomite (touching communal surfaces like doorknobs and elevator buttons; new data suggests it can linger for up to 72 hr on surfaces).

That's one of the reasons I was a little worried, everyone needs to sign out from the building (for safety reasons) on a touchscreen, so everyone has touched that exact same spot.
I ended up moving my wife into the spare bedroom (where I haven't touched anything). I'm pretty sure I have a normal cold - post nasal drip is gone and my nose is slightly stuffy, just keeping on the lookout for fever or cough. Self medicating with home-made kim-chi and Jack Daniels Honey.
posted by 445supermag at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

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