COVID's on the rise. Let's be careful out there!
Jan. 17, 2024
By Mary Wade Burnside
Six days before Christmas, the scratch in my throat felt ominous. Two tests confirmed what I feared: COVID-19.
I had felt tired for a couple days prior and the symptoms moved fast. For two days after I tested positive, I was miserable. My fever approached 102 degrees each evening, which caused concern. Only two days in, it already hurt my head, sinuses and ribs to cough.
And then on the third day, my cold symptoms improved remarkably, still leaving me exhausted and stuffy, with an off sense of smell and taste and occasional episodes of feeling a bit dizzy.
At the same time, I had friends posting on social media and sharing similar stories, and a relative two counties away who I hadn’t seen recently also tested positive.
Now that so many individuals conduct home COVID testing, it’s difficult to get clear numbers of cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicators at the end of 2023 showed COVID cases on the rise, based on testing, emergency department visits, wastewater information, hospitalizations and deaths.
And the World Health Organization just announced that there were nearly 10,000 deaths in the United States and Europe due to COVID, about four times the number of deaths between Oct. 23 and Nov. 19.
It’s clearly out there.
At Monongalia County Health Department, we understand COVID fatigue. We want to live our lives normally, without fear, feeling like we can do anything we want.
I definitely wanted to put it behind me. However, now I’m feeling a different kind of fatigue — from actually having COVID. As well as the regret of not being able to see friends and celebrate during the holidays.
Everyone should know the drill by now, but here’s a reminder of steps to take to avoid getting COVID.
First, get the latest COVID booster if you haven’t already. Yes, I had mine. While it was frustrating to get sick, I wonder how much sicker I might have potentially gotten without it — especially when my symptoms dramatically improved three days after testing positive. While one goal with the vaccine is to avoid COVID, another is to have a less severe case if you do get it.
Just as with influenza, COVID strains can mutate, which is why getting the updated one can be critical. The bivalent vaccine was a good match with the omicron variant that was circulating two years ago.
As noted on the CDC on its website, in fall 2023, the Food and Drug Administration approved an updated COVID vaccine that was formulated to target current variants more closely. It's recommended for anyone ages 6 months and older.
To make an appointment for either an updated COVID vaccine or even a flu shot, you can call 304-598-5119.
Other measures you can take include wearing a mask, at least in certain circumstances; washing your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water; and perhaps even considering avoiding large gatherings, at least while COVID cases are on the rise.
Also, anyone who is sick should stay home from school or work and obviously avoid other people, especially those who are most vulnerable to illness.
The CDC website has a wealth of advice on COVID prevention. There are also recommendations on what to do if you know you have been exposed to COVID in order to avoid spreading it to others.
Most of all, listen to your body and your instincts. If you are feeling tired without a good cause, consider testing for COVID. As of late September, four free tests have been available per household via the U.S. Postal Service, with another four available as of November. Those who haven’t claimed those yet can do so by going to USPS.com.
I don’t know how I got COVID, but I do know that I plan to be more careful going forward.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.