How do you know if you’ve fully recovered from COVID-19?

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 7:31 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - By now, we’ve all heard of the symptoms of COVID-19: high fever, coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, but if you haven’t been hospitalized for the virus, how will know when you’ve recovered?

Jefferson County’s Medical Director of Disease Control said knowing when you’ve fully recovered from COVID-19 is going to vary from person to person.

But there is a difference between being fully recovered and being ready to come out of isolation.

Dr. Wesley Willeford said the Centers for Disease Control has two strategies for releasing someone from quarantine: the first is a symptom-based strategy, also known as the “10+3.”

“So, what we look at is, we say, ‘Well, what day did your symptoms start?’ So, once it’s been ten days since your symptoms started and you’ve been without fevers for at least three days without having to use medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and you’ve had improvement of your symptoms, then we say, ‘Okay, you can come off of your quarantine,’” Dr. Willeford said.

The second is the test-based strategy, which requires another COVID-19 test.

However, Dr. Willeford said that screening is really good at telling you if you have the virus, but it’s not as good at telling you when you’re over it.

“And the reason for that is that it’s able to detect some of the genetic material of the virus even after you’ve gotten better. It’s basically picking up debris from the virus,” Dr. Willeford explained.

And when you finally come out of quarantine, Dr. Willeford recommends monitoring your health, and continue to wash your hands, social distance and wear a face covering.

“Now, you still may not be feeling perfectly fine when that happens. You may still have a little residual cough, you may still feel a little achy, or just a little run down, but you’re not going to be spreading the virus anymore,” Dr. Willeford said.

And what about that 14-day quarantine period that we’ve been hearing so much about?

Dr. Willeford said that has more to do with people who have been exposed to the virus.

He said that two-week period is the incubation time for the virus, so during that time, you may or may not become sick, but it helps keep you from spreading the virus to other people.

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