Two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, each of us has an understanding of the virus. We’ve established personal best practices — social distancing, mask-wearing, getting vaccinated — and familiarized ourselves with the language of epidemiology.
Most of us still have questions, however. That’s OK. Experts still have questions about the virus. As the virus evolves, our understanding falls behind. There’s only so much that can be known for sure, especially as mask mandates and testing requirements begin to lessen in some parts of the world.
Below are some common questions the VI Source hears from our readers answered by the Virgin Islands top experts, Territorial Health Commissioner Justa E. Encarnacion, infectious disease specialist Tai Hunte-Ceasar, and Territorial Epidemiologist Esther Ellis.
What activities are COVID safe? Why?
Outside events that are socially distanced are the safest. This is because COVID-19 is spread by droplets, and being outside and physically distancing reduces your exposure to those droplets.
What do I do if I test positive?
Isolate away from others for 10 days if you test positive. If you are fully vaccinated and boosted, that isolation can be shortened to seven days. Day 0 is the day that you test positive.
Are physically fit people at risk of COVID?
Yes. All people are at risk for the ill effects of COVID as it is unknown how your body will respond to the virus. While the data shows that the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions have worse outcomes, all people are at risk of significant illness as well as long-lasting symptoms that have been labeled as “long hauler” or long “COVID disease.”
Do the vaccines work?
Yes. Vaccines provide a safe trigger to your body’s own immune system to produce natural antibodies against the virus. Once the antibodies are built in the body, they are ready to fight the virus immediately if you are exposed. It is the best way to provide strong and long-lasting protection against severe illness.
Are vaccines safe for pregnant women?
Yes. Vaccines have shown no harm to women of childbearing age, during pregnancy, lactating women, or among unborn babies in research studies to date. They are recommended by the CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Why do vaccinated people still test positive for COVID?
The goal of the vaccine is to prevent severe disease by giving your immune system the instructions on how to quickly fight it better. It does not prevent exposure to the virus and potential infection.
If I am vaccinated but test positive, can I spread COVID like an unvaccinated person?
Yes, however, the research shows that vaccinated individuals cannot spread COVID for as long as an unvaccinated person, which is why there is slightly shorter isolation needed for a fully vaccinated and boosted COVID-positive person.