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Health officials provide tips to help stop spread of COVID amid variant concerns

Vaccine
Posted at 6:44 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 11:46:49-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- With long lines to get tested for COVID-19, a lack of tests at area stores and an explosion of cases due to the Omicron variant, health officials want people to double down on simple prevention tools we all have at our disposal.

"I think it's really important for people to take all the preventative steps that we know to prevent severe infection. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent severe infection," Elena Diskin, an epidemiology program manager at the Virginia Department of Health, said.

To her point, when you look at the latest available data from the VDH related to hospitalizations, just 72 of the more than 1,400 COVID patients hospitalized in Virginia during the week that ended December 18 were vaccinated.

"I think that consistent and correct mask usage is really important right now to mitigate the spread," Diskin said.

The CDC is now recommending that people with COVID-19 isolate for five days, and then if they have no more symptoms, wear a mask around people for five more days.

For exposures, if you are fully vaccinated and boosted, and you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine but should wear your mask around others for 10 days.

If you are not fully vaccinated and boosted, you should quarantine for five days and wear a mask for an additional five days around others.

"We all know there are important steps we can be taking, the personal responsibility of keeping your community safe," Diskin said.

Diskin focuses on contact tracing and case investigations. She said her job is still relevant despite the case surge but people can do their own contact tracing to help the cause.

"It's really important that people take that step to notify their own contacts right now because of the high case burden," Diskin said.

If you are not comfortable with that, Diskin recommends the COVIDWISE app.

"A really great way that cases can anonymously inform their contacts about exposure," Diskin said.

To learn how to get a vaccine or booster, click here.