Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Omicron: Questions but few Answers

As a member of the Health IT industry, I follow a lot of what is going on related to Healthcare, and as a result, many of my family members ask me for my opinions, advice, and guidance about healthcare issues. That includes where to go and who to talk to in order to resolve an issue in our Healthcare System [sic].

With Omicron, what I know well is fairly limited:

  1. Get Immunized / Boosted
  2. Stay Masked when you leave your house/car or enter any public space.
  3. Avoid Crowds / Stay in your bubble
But here are some of the questions I have:

You can be asymptomatic with COVID (even more likely with Omicron).  Should I be testing on a regular basis to be sure I don't have an asymptomatic + breakthrough infection?  If so, how frequently, and what kind of test (e.g., PCR or Antigen, and if the latter which brand or brands) should I be using?

If I become symptomatic, what should I do? Test? Isolate? Both?  If I test positive, what's my exit criteria from isolation and what are the risk factors I need to consider?  If I test negative, how likely is that to be a false negative?

If one needs to travel within the US, what should we know about that destination and how should it affect our behavior.  Are there destinations we should avoid right now?  Why?

Because the information I get is coming in so quickly, often has yet to be peer reviewed, or may be poorly reported, and is also often conflicting even from well known and respected authorities, who should I be listening to and trust?

I have a ton of Surgical Masks, a more limited supply of KN95 respirators.  I use the latter in places where I feel more exposed, the former in places with less exposure.  What kind of exposure criteria should I be considering?  Should I toss all my surgical masks and simply replace them with KN95 masks?

For me personally, I honestly think I'm at low risk of experiencing a serious adverse event due to COVID, because of the precautions I am taking.  But if I include in that "serious adverse event" that I also want to avoid being the cause of a serious adverse event for some other person (whether a member of my family, bubble or community), then I quickly become clueless.  

It's not that I don't know where to look or who to ask for myself, but rather, I have no good way to communicate to those I interact with what I know (or think I know).  

And oh, by the way, don't ask me anything about the next variant.  I have no clue what that will bring.  Does anyone?

If any of you out there reading this can do better, please provide feedback in comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Keith is correct that these are complex times getting even more complex. A couple of tips for my informatics colleagues:
    1) Check out 3M's Aura N95 Respirators. I've been getting them for a little over $2USD each online and they are by far the most comfortable N95's I've found. They fold flat too (although ideally try not to touch the front of these masks after you've been wearing them because that's where the COVID particles would be hanging out).
    2) My organization just updated our COVID-19 self-service advice tool to match the latest CDC guidelines. So if you have symptoms or have been exposed and want to know what to do, feel free to check it out: