Get the Facts: Ask Brock the Doc

Dr. UriAt Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, our business is caring for people.

EBCH wants to make sure everyone in our community has the most up-to-date information about COVID-19.

That’s why we’re featuring two questions about COVID-19 each week – questions answered by our own EBCH Chief Medical Officer and ER physician Dr. Brock Urie.

Ask Brock the Doc – information you can trust.

What is “close contact”?

Close contact means someone with COVID-19 potentially exposed you to the virus. In general, close contact means being less than 6 feet from someone for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period. However, these are guidelines; the longer you are close to someone who has COVID-19, the more likely you will get the virus. 

What does it mean to quarantine or isolate?

The simplest answer is – stay home. Staying home means not going to work, school, the grocery store, or any other place outside the house except for testing or medical appointments. Whenever possible, separate yourself from other people in your home; stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. If possible, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. If you are not fully vaccinated and had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you need to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. If you develop symptoms during that time, get tested immediately and begin isolation.  

If you are fully vaccinated and had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you do NOT need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. You should get tested within 5-7 days after exposure with or without symptoms. If you test positive at this point, you need to begin isolation. 

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Both terms mean that you should stay home and away from others. The difference is whether you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have already tested positive for the virus.

Quarantine: Staying home and away from others when you might have been exposed to the virus. 

Isolation: Staying home and away from others when you test positive, feel sick, or have symptoms of the virus.

How bad is COVID-19 in our community right now?

Currently, the number of positive cases is close to the levels we experienced during last year's peak. It is extremely important to follow the guidelines to keep ourselves and our families and friends safe with the holidays approaching.

  • Wear masks
  • Wash hands
  • Socially distance
  • Get vaccinated or get the booster

If you are experiencing symptoms, get tested immediately.

If your symptoms are severe or affecting your breathing, seek medical attention.

If our hospital is completely full, why can't we transfer people to another hospital?

COVID-19 positivity rates are high across the state of Minnesota. Hospital resources statewide are at a critical level. This includes bed and human resource availability. There must be staff available to care for the patients in beds. This lack of staffing is a crisis across the nation.

What is happening with surgery at EBCH?

Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital has decided to suspend scheduling any elective surgeries for the time being. Medically necessary surgeries will be scheduled and performed as needed. If you currently have a surgery scheduled, our Surgery Team will be contacting you with complete details. We expect this change to last until mid-December.

I tested positive for COVID-19; now what?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to:

  • Go directly to your home and stay there
  • Isolate yourself in your home from anyone else who lives with you
  • Wear a mask any time you come in contact with someone else

Isolation means that people infected with COVID-19 stay at home and are kept away from others living in the home to prevent giving them COVID-19. If possible, you should stay in a separate room, use separate bathrooms, and do not share personal household items such as towels, cups, or toiletries.

When does isolation end?

You can be around people ten days after the onset of your symptoms and when you are free of symptoms for 24 hours without using medication to reduce your fever.

If you tested positive but did not have symptoms, you are safe to be around others ten days after your positive test 

What is monoclonal antibody therapy?

Monoclonal antibody therapy helps prevent hospitalizations and lessens the severity of symptoms from COVID-19. This therapy relies on a type of antibodies that are similar to the ones your body would naturally make in response to infection. They give the immune system a chance to catch up until it can form its own strong response.

Some people who test positive for COVID-19 may qualify for an IV infusion treatment. Treatment must be given within ten days of the onset of symptoms. If you test positive, you should contact your primary care provider right away to see if treatment is an option for you.  

When should I get a COVID-19 test?

It is still very important to get tested to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Whether or not you are fully vaccinated, you should immediately get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms include; headache, fatigue, body aches, fever, chills, or shortness of breath. 

If you have been exposed to an individual who tests positive, the recommendations change slightly:

  • If you are fully vaccinated – get tested 3-5 days after the exposure.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated – get tested immediately, and if that test is negative, get tested again in 3-5 days. 
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last dose in your series.  Anyone who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine would be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose. If you received the Johnson & Johnson, full vaccination is two weeks after the single dose. 

How do I know if I have been exposed?

If you have recently been in close contact with an individual that tests positive for COVID-19, you may have been exposed, which means that you were within 6 feet of that individual for 15 minutes or more.

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines may prevent serious respiratory illness caused by COVID-19. The latest data shows that fully vaccinated people are 15 times less likely to be hospitalized and 30 times less likely to die from COVID-19. The vaccines may also keep you from spreading the virus to others, including loved ones or vulnerable people in your community.  

Can there be side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines?

There can be side effects for some people who get the COVID-19 vaccine, but they are far less dangerous than getting the virus for most people.

Common side effects are:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling of the arm where you got your shot
  • Fatigue, fever, headache, or muscle pain that may last a day or two

These side effects are signs that the body is forming protection against COVID-19. 

I am fully vaccinated. Do I need to get the booster shot?

Most vaccinations require a booster to maintain their strength. The COVID-19 vaccine is no different. A booster shot can provide more antibodies to prevent serious illness and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Right now, booster shots are available for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for people who meet the following criteria: 

  • Individuals over the age of 65
  • Individuals over the age of 18 who live in long-term care facilities
  • Individuals over the age of 18 who have underlying health concerns
  • Individuals over the age of 18 who live or work in high-risk settings
  • Individuals who received their original doses more than six months ago

Anyone older than 18 who received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine qualifies for a second  booster dose two months following their first dose. 

When should I be wearing a mask?

Due to the highly contagious Delta variant, it is recommended that fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear their masks in the following settings:

  • Indoor businesses and crowded settings
  • Crowded outdoor public locations in areas with higher transmission rates
  • Schools, healthcare settings, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities 

It is also recommended for immunocompromised poeple or people who live with, or frequently interact with someone who is immunocompromised, to mask up anytime they interact with anyone outside their home. 

Why does wearing a mask help stop the spread of COVID-19?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread by respiratory droplets when people breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze. Wearing a well-fitted mask helps to stop these droplets from spreading to others. Wearing a mask is important because nearly 40-50% of people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms. Even without symptoms, you can still spread the virus. Wearing a mask is only ONE factor in stopping the spread of COVID-19. You should still follow all recommendations, including staying home if you are sick unless you need medical care, socially distance by staying 6 feet from others and washing your hands often. By following these recommendations, you can provide an extra layer of protection against getting and spreading COVID-19.