As COVID becomes more prevalent in our community, you may find it affecting your life on a more personal level than before. As we go about our daily lives, we may come into contact with someone with COVID at the store or even have a loved one in our home that has tested positive for COVID. What does this mean for you as a patient?
The guidelines from the CDC and our local authorities are dynamic and can change from day to day as we continue to learn more about the virus. There are regulations that have not changed since the beginning and others that have been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID.
1) I live with someone that has tested positive for COVID. If you live with someone that has tested positive, please inform us ASAP. We will reschedule your appointment to a later date. You will not be able to come in until you can either provide a negative test or until 10 days after symptoms have subsided for either yourself or the person you live with.
2) I have a slight cough or headache but no fever. At this time, what was considered to be a possible cold might be something more and we want to ensure you, our team, and our other patients are protected for possible exposure. We will reschedule your appointment for at least 3 weeks out. You will not be able to come in until you can either provide a negative test or until 10 days after symptoms have subsided for either yourself or the person you live with.
3) I just traveled OR had an out-of-state visitor stay at my house OR someone I live with just returned from a trip out of state. In accordance with the State of Alaska guidelines, we will reschedule your appointment for 5 days after you or the person visiting/living with you has arrived at your home. As of today, the traveler must have one negative test, but no longer has to have two negative tests before returning to daily routines.
4) I was exposed at work to someone with COVID but I have no symptoms. Receiving this news can be scary! We have learned directly from DHSS nurses in Alaska the following to help us know when to take a test:
If you were within 6' of the +person for more than 15 minutes, you should take a test regardless if you were wearing a mask or not. The closer we are to others and the longer we are in their presence, the likelihood of our exposure grows.
If you were not in the vicinity of the +person but they were in the same building as you, you do not need to take a test. However, we will reschedule your appointment for at least 72 hours after your interaction with that person. 72 hours allows for any possible symptoms to arise and prevents the small possibility of exposing others at our practice.
5) What is the difference between being asymptomatic and having a positive test and being symptomatic with a positive test? Again, after speaking directly with DHSS nurses, we have learned the following:
Asymptomatic (not having any symptoms) but having a positive test means that you can spread the virus. You are considered contagious 48 hours prior to your positive test. Example: You took a test on Wednesday because you found out a family member has COVID and it came back positive. Your infectious state began on Monday.
Symptomatic with a positive test means your infectious state started 48 hours prior to your symptoms. Example: You started to feel sick on Thursday and took a test on Saturday when the symptoms started to worsen. Your infectious state began on Tuesday.
6) My test came back positive. When can I return? We have learned recently from the CDC that the virus can shed for up to 3 months after your symptoms have resolved. This means you can take multiple COVID tests during this time period and still come back positive but not be infectious. If you have tested positive for COVID, you will have to complete your quarantine time per your medical professional. Once that has ended and you're ready to come back for your dental care, you must provide a clearance letter from your medical provider showing you are no longer actively contagious.
We know this can all be very confusing. As healthcare providers, we have also experienced confusion and frustration as we've worked to develop the best protocols for our patients and our team members to prevent exposure. We are always willing to discuss what we've learned from researching mandates from the CDC, the State of Alaska, and the Municipality of Anchorage. Please contact our Office Manager, Mikhayla, or our doctors with your concerns.
Thank you for your help in ensuring the safety of our community by following the COVID guidelines given to us at this time. You are strong. You are needed. You can make it through this. We're here for you!