Board of Health

The Pershing County Board of Health advises the Board of Commissioners and coordinates programs and activities related to the health and well-being of Pershing County Residents.

COVID-19 General Information

Covid-19 is a coronavirus, which is in a family of viruses that usually cause mild-moderate upper respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold. However, 3 new coronaviruses have emerged over the past 20 years that are not like the others. SARS, MERS, and now SARS-2 CoV (Covid-19) are these three. These new viruses can cause multiple, varied and severe symptoms that may result in death. People who develop the worst Covid-19 cases develop a severe inflammatory response that can lead to blood clots, respiratory distress, and death.

Covid-19 is spreading easily and sustainably in communities as we can see with the dramatic increases in cases in our country and the world. This virus can be spread by respiratory droplets that vary in size, down to micro droplets, that become aerosolized and can spread quite far.  These droplets are spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, sharing food/drinks and utensils, etc. The micro droplets of Covid-19 have been compared to other viruses, and Covid-19 is more resilient in aerosol than others. This means it can last longer than expected in this tiny form to cause infection.

Studies continue to track how this virus spreads and offer guidelines regarding the potential risks of exposure.

Please remember, we learn more everyday about how this virus behaves and how it affects people. Our response to the virus must also remain fluid. I know this can be very frustrating and confusing for us all!

Testing & Follow-Up

If a person tests positive for the virus, there is specific guidance from the CDC for return to work. Brief explanations can be found below. Please see CDC guidelines online for more information.

When a person is possibly exposed to the virus (is a contact), there is different guidance regarding return to work. Please refer to CDC information for more information.

Why is there a difference? This is because there’s a window of time in which an exposed person may develop symptoms, called the incubation period. This is different for all infections. An example is Chicken Pox, which has an incubation period of up to 21 days. Studies of Covid-19 so far indicate that Its incubation period is from 2-14 days. Each person who becomes infected has different levels of the virus in their systems. Those with higher viral counts will be more likely to transmit the virus. Those with lower viral counts less likely. The only way to know the count is to be tested. 

And, we also know there are a significant number of asymptomatic people who may never know they’re infected and can still transmit the virus.  Many of these people don’t know how they were infected.

This is an important reason why we’re advised to wear masks, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing, and then isolate if you become symptomatic.

When a person tests positive, then a case investigation is started to identify potential contacts. This investigation may be done by me, the ordering provider, or a State of Nevada Epidemiology Disease Investigator. Then, contact tracing begins. This can be a very challenging process.

Who is considered close contact?  Current guidelines identify a close contact as any individual within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes starting 2 days before illness onset or 2 days prior to positive specimen collection in asymptomatic patients.

If a person is a contact and tests negative PRIOR to the end of the 14 day quarantine, this person must still complete the quarantine for 14 days from exposure date to cover the incubation period described above. *This is why some people who test positive may return to work sooner than contacts.

CDC guideline states people who test positive and have NO symptoms can return to work 10 days after the positive test. (Time-based strategy)

People who test positive and DO have symptoms can return to work 10 days after symptom onset, AS LONG AS their key symptoms are improving, and they have no fever for at least 24 hrs, without fever reducing medication. (Symptom-based strategy)

Timing of tests is important. It is advised that Covid-19 tests be done at least 72 hours after onset of symptoms for accurate test results. If done sooner, there may not be adequate viral numbers to yield a positive test (it may be ‘false negative’).

For contacts of positive cases, I advise testing at least 72 hours after possible exposure. BUT, if this result is negative, they must still quarantine for 14 days from exposure date due to the incubation period above. If they develop symptoms at any time (even day 14), then testing should be done as discussed above, and the individual needs to isolate until results are available.

Many ask about repeat testing to return to work. As we know, there has been quite a delay in turn-around for results. There are also some people who continue to test positive on a PCR (nasal swab) test for several weeks after they recover. This is always confusing. Updated CDC guidelines do not recommend the ‘test-based’ strategy for return to work except in very special cases. They recommend the ‘time-based’ strategy (for asymptomatic) and ‘symptom-based’ strategy (for symptomatic) as described above.

Please see the links below for further information. 

We need to stay vigilant.

It’s important that we all take a good look at our work and home environments to see what else we can do to try to keep us safe and well during this pandemic. Adequate ventilation is something we may overlook, and may not be something we can easily remedy in our older buildings.

CDC Resources for COVID-19

Questions? Feedback?

Use the form below to send your questions, comments, and suggestions. You can also drop them off at the Pershing County Physicians Center.

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