Thanks to occupying a household with social twenty-somethings with less than rigid quarantine habits, we have had two exposures to COVID-19, but we all just tested negative. My family consists of my husband and I (we are both 56) and our two adult sons (21 and 24). Our quarantine is only as good as the least quarantined member. My youngest son has friends over (some of whom work in bars) and they socialize outside with no masks or social distancing. We, as a family, have now twice been exposed to a houseguest who tested positive but was asymptomatic. Today, three of us just received a negative rapid COVID-19 test. The youngest family member will test tomorrow because he takes the LSAT today (yea!).
What does exposure to asymptomatic but COVID-19 positive individuals tells us about the benefits of more or less quarantine? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends testing of asymptomatic individuals with recent exposure to known SARS-COV-2 (or COVID-19). However, the CDC also says that early testing after exposure may miss many infections and therefore a quarantine is still warranted. Serial testing over many points in time may be more likely to detect infection. But practically speaking, we found that testing was problematic. On a prior exposure, my older son experienced delays in tele-medicine appointments, limited availability of testing sites, long delays/lines at testing centers, and seven days later he still does not have his test results. Today, we went to a private facility and used our family health insurance at a delay of two and one-half hours, but we all have test results in hand. I might add that we had a familial connection to the medical provider which enhanced this experience.
If testing does not always give us adequate information on our own levels of quarantine, what does the national data show? Nationally, the overall percentage of specimens testing positive for SARS-COV-2 decreased from week 26 (9.2%0 to week 27 (8.8%) nationally but increased in five regions. Increases were reported in New York/New Jersey/Puerto Rico, the Southeast, the Midwest, South Central and Central regions. The overall cumulative hospitalization rate is 107.2 per 100,000 with the highest rates in persons 65 years or older. Death rates decreased nationally from 6.9% to 5.5%, representing the 11th consecutive week with a declining percentage rate.
The hospitalization rate data is difficult to assess. What the CDC does tell us is that the overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 107.2 per 100,000. The highest rate of hospitalization occurs in adults aged 65 or greater. Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Blacks and Hispanics have a hospitalization rate often five times higher than the cumulative average.
As of today’s date, Georgia has 120,569 positive COVID-19 cases. Currently, 2600 people are hospitalized and 3026 people have died.
Finally, what do we know about getting COVID-19 from asymptomatic individuals? Apparently, nothing. Our negative test is really only valuable for the next few days. The World Health Organization has not yet determined how frequently people with asymptomatic cases pass the disease to others, one day after suggesting that such spreading was “rare”.
I wish I could conclude something useful out of this personal experience and my brief and shallow dive into difficult data. I guess we will just keep wearing masks, staying in, keeping a social distance from non-family members and trying to corral these twenty-somethings as best as possible. Stay safe everyone.