Keeping You Safe & Informed
The BA.5 variant of the coronavirus omicron strain is subverting almost all expectations and predictions about how the pandemic was going to develop. The variant is highly contagious and causes a high percentage of breakthrough cases among the vaccinated and boosted. Although, vaccinations and boosts do appear to still give significant protection against symptoms that require hospitalization or medical attention.
Advance ER wants to keep everyone in our communities safe and informed, so we will be updating this blog entry with information about new variants, safety protocols, and so on. (Most recent update: July 2022.)
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the following symptoms may appear within 24 to 72 hours after exposure to the BA.5 variant of the coronavirus:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
BA.5 seems to have a lower incidence of causing high fevers and nausea when compared to previous variants of the coronavirus. It also might have a lower risk of temporary, permanent, or semi-permanent sense of smell and taste loss. It is important to note that the symptoms of BA.5 and other omicron variants – which account for the vast majority of infections right now – can appear as quickly as 24 hours in some cases and become contagious around the same time.
How is COVID-19 different than the flu?
The coronavirus often begins as flu-like symptoms or those of a “bad cold.” Unlike the flu or a cold, though, it is far more contagious and has a much higher fatality rate. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is through annual vaccinations, and so, the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and receive booster vaccinations when available.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is a little-understood phenomenon that affects many coronavirus patients. It is a continuation of symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath weeks, months, or sometimes years after the virus is no longer detectable in the patient’s system. The CDC estimates that around 25% of COVID patients suffer long COVID, regardless of how severely ill the initial infection caused them to be. Repeated infections seem to increase the risk of long COVID as well.
Should I wear a mask in public?
Yes, the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are recommended that everyone wear a mask when in public areas, including outdoor spaces. The BA.5 variant is so contagious that even brief, minimal exposure to the virus could cause an infection. Just like other variants, though, BA.5 is primarily transmissible through mucus and spit droplets that become airborne while coughing, sneezing, and talking. By wearing an N-95 or KN-95 mask, you can dramatically reduce the risk of expelling infected droplets and of inhaling them from others.
Should I social distance again?
With the prevalence of the BA.5 omicron variant, it is once again recommended that you socially distance yourself from others when possible. Large groups of people – especially the unmasked and unvaccinated – have a very high risk of becoming a “super spreader” or a single event in which a large percentage of attendees catch the coronavirus. BA.5 has been shown to evade vaccinations in many cases, so you should not assume that you are “immune” from catching COVID-19 just because you are vaccinated and/or boosted.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes, the coronavirus vaccine has been proven to be a highly safe vaccination with minimal risks that are far outweighed by the risks of even a mild COVID case. The CDC reports that nearly 600 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States alone, with billions of doses having been administered globally. The percentage of people who were injured or passed away due to vaccine complications is not even 1%. Furthermore, the complications that do occur from vaccination are usually a form of anaphylactic reaction that is caused by a chemical compound used in the vaccine, not the vaccine itself. The vaccine does not make patients sick with the coronavirus or expose them to a “dead” version of the virus.
For more information about the coronavirus vaccine, its efficacy, and more, you can click here to visit the official CDC COVID Data website.
Where can I get tested?
COVID-19 testing is available at both our Park Cities and Galleria locations. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, as well as other common respiratory conditions, contact us online or call (214) 494-8222 to schedule your visit. With our advanced testing technology, we can administer tests directly from our clinic with a simple swab from a patient’s nose or throat to deliver results within minutes.
There are also government-organized COVID-19 testing centers available to residents of Dallas County. Two dedicated testing facilities are the Ellis Davis Field House and the Mesquite ISD’s Memorial Stadium. (You can click here to visit the Dallas County official website and learn more about where to go for coronavirus testing.)
You can also order free at-home tests by visiting https://www.covid.gov/tests. While there, you can see if local pharmacies have tests for purchase or cost-free in-pharmacy tests available.
Am I allowed to take a test if I don’t have symptoms?
In-clinic testing is recommended for patients with serious or observable symptoms, or those who have been in contact with someone who has the virus. If you have very mild symptoms or are not showing any symptoms, then you might want to first use an at-home test to avoid going into public if not necessary. If you’re still unsure if you should take a test, don’t hesitate to call our office. We’ll assist you over the phone with care instructions or schedule an appointment if necessary.
How will I be treated if I have COVID-19?
If you test positive for COVID-19 and have one or more health conditions that increase your risk of becoming very sick, treatment may be available, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Antiviral pills like Paxlovid and molnupiravir can be used to reduce symptom severity for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. We must start treatment within the first few days to be effective.
Will I catch COVID-19 if I come into the office?
Advance ER is staying up to date on the latest information regarding COVID-19. We have planned and adapted our facility to operate safely under developing CDC guidelines, and we have made additional precautions to protect both our patients and staff members. We will continue to work with Dallas County Health & Human Services (DCHHS) recommendations and coordinate testing and treatment with proper protocol.
For more information on COVID-19, call our Dallas office at (214) 494-8222 today or contact us online.