Hawaii COVID testing expert says 5-day isolation guidance isn’t enough to prevent spread of virus
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Concerned about a potential COVID exposure in the City Council Chamber, Chair Tommy Waters organized free antigen testing for about 30 councilmembers and staff this week.
He told HNN that so far everyone has been negative.
The episode underscores just how widespread COVID is on Oahu amid an ongoing surge.
“It is everywhere we turn around,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, who was the COVID testing director for US Olympics.
Miscovich is critical of the state and federal government’s handling of the virus.
He says the CDC and Hawaii Health Department’s five-day timeline to exit COVID isolation if you’re fully vaccinated is flawed and businesses and workers can’t simply look at day five as an automatic pass to get out of isolation.
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- Hawaii sees nearly 9,000 new COVID cases, 5 deaths over past week
- Health officials say lifted restrictions are not only driving up COVID cases, but also the flu
He recommends antigen home testing to get out of isolation.
“The data is very clear at five days you can still maybe have 40% of people who will still be shedding the virus and still infected. It’s a variable number. Some people who are immunosuppressed will be shedding up to 14 days,” said Miscovich.
Miscovich says health officials should give more details on using home tests which are now widely available.
“That is a major, major failure and it comes all the way from the federal government as we can order free tests from the federal government and they don’t explain to people if you’re asymptomatic you have to test twice within 48 hours to know.”
“We should stand on the rooftops to say that.”
Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID Coordinator, said testing is an effective way to keep infections down.
“You can test yourself before going to a large gathering or before you go visit someone vulnerable,” Jha said.
The CDC and DOH guidance on when it’s OK to leave isolation has not changed. You can return to work:
- At least five full days since your symptoms started or since your test date if you had no symptoms;
- If you’ve had no fever for 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medications
- and if your symptoms are improving.
Miscovich says after testing positive for COVID, don’t take another PCR test because it’s too sensitive. “The antigen test is the test that should convert to negative if you want to safely lead people to come into an environment,” said Miscovich.
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