COVID AT UVA HEALTH: BY THE NUMBERS
82 patients, including 3 children, hospitalized at UVA Health with COVID
See Virginia-wide stats from the Virginia Department of Health
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: OMICRON WAVE CONTINUES; GETTING A TEST
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing and adding mutations to itself. Just a few weeks ago, the first case of the omicron variant of the virus was found in the U.S. Now, omicron accounts for about 95% of all new infections.
What’s a Rapid Antigen Test?
Rapid antigen tests detect proteins from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Most at-home COVID tests are of this type. They work best if you use them when you’re having symptoms. You usually get results on the same day.
The other kind of test, called molecular or PCR, can take a few days to get a result. PCR tests are a little more accurate but less convenient.
Whatever test you use, make sure to report your result to your doctor.
COVID-19 tests have become harder to find as infections have risen in our area. UVA Health infectious disease specialist Costi Sifri, MD, urges you to avoid coming to the emergency department to get a COVID test. “The emergency room is not a place to get a test,” says Sifri. “It’s really a place where people need medical attention because they have significant needs.”
Although you might have a hard time finding rapid antigen tests at a local pharmacy, it’s still the best course of action. This will help our health system from getting overwhelmed with patients. If you’re having symptoms and feel like you need medical attention, do come to the ER for treatment.
UPGRADE YOUR SAFETY: MASK TYPE OFFERS MORE PROTECTION
With the higher local case numbers, you should consider upgrading your regular mask from a cloth or surgical-style one to a KN95 or N95. After shortages of this style of mask last year, they’re now more widely available. They also offer better protection against coronavirus infection.
“They’re better at filtering out the virus than the surgical masks, and the surgical masks are better than the cloth masks,” says Bill Petri, MD, an infectious disease expert at UVA Health. “There’s really almost no difference between a KN95 and an N95. They are much more widely available and it is good to buy them from somebody reputable, like one of the local drugstores.”
Whatever mask you choose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that your mask:
- Have at least 2 layers
- Completely covers your mouth and nose
- Fits snugly on your face, without gaps
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: NEW VARIANT IDENTIFIED
Omicron was first detected in November 2021. In December, it became the dominant variant in the U.S. But a new variant, for now nicknamed “IHU,” was also found in the last few weeks.
Like omicron, this new variant also has a high number of mutations when compared with the original coronavirus. However, it hasn’t spread nearly as easily or widely as omicron. Only a few patients in France have been identified with this variant. Both omicron and IHU were first detected around the same time.
Omicron is here and rapidly spreading in our communities. “Our rates in Virginia are also going up really dramatically,” notes Petri. The percentage of positive COVID test results at UVA Health has risen over the last 3 months, from 12.5% to 30.2%.
The good news: Vaccinations and booster shots still prevent you from getting sick or having severe illness. Learn more about staying safe from COVID.
KEEPING YOU SAFE
UVA Health continues to closely watch the ongoing COVID pandemic and weigh options for keeping our patients, staff members, and community members safe. To that end, we’ve recently tightened our visitor restrictions.
Exceptions are available for some situations. Talk to the patient’s care team if you have questions about visitor restrictions or exceptions.