Why you shouldn’t keep a COVID-19 case under wraps
Think twice about hiding your COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis. Keeping quiet could undermine efforts to protect communities as coronavirus cases rise and emergency department volumes grow nationwide, according to medical professionals.
Like getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a face mask and following social distancing protocols, telling those around you if you were exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive can help mitigate transmission, said Advocate Aurora Health Chief Medical Group Officer Dr. Jeff Bahr. It also better protects those at risk of severe illness, including people who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical conditions.
There’s nothing shameful about getting infected. Still, there’s a “hesitancy to report positive test results or symptoms in certain families or communities,” Bahr said, noting that some patients will say, “‘I was positive, but I didn’t want to tell anyone because there’s a certain stigma associated with being positive and being the source of another person’s infection.’ That actually works against us socially because it promotes unknown spread.”
The CDC also has been working to educate people about the ways in which stigma makes it more difficult to control the spread of an outbreak. According to the agency: “Stigma can also make people more likely to hide symptoms or illness, keep them from seeking health care immediately, and prevent individuals from adopting healthy behaviors.”
Testing is another key way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Bahr said. Advocate Aurora’s COVID-19 Symptom Checker helps ensure people get the right care when and where they need it.
“If you do have a positive result, it’s important to let those around you know,” Bahr said. “It’s the courteous thing to do, it’s the right thing to do, it’s the healthy thing to do.”
About the Author
Stephanie Goldberg is a public affairs manager with Advocate Aurora Health. She previously worked as a reporter covering health care for Crain’s Chicago Business. She enjoys hiking, baking and long walks on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.