COVID-19 FAQs: Symptoms and Exposure
Get the facts about symptoms and exposure to the novel coronavirus and how it affects people with arthritis.
News, scientific understanding and guidelines about COVID-19 are continually evolving. As such, please note that some information on this page may have changed since its original publication date.
Question: Can I be infected if I’ve already had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated?
A: Preliminary evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is three times as likely to cause reinfection than past variants. Additionally, data suggests that immunocompromised patients, specifically patients with inflammatory arthritis, HIV, or who have had an organ transplant, are at a “substantial risk” for infection, regardless of vaccination status.
Question: Are symptoms of the Omicron variant different than other COVID-19 variants?
A: Loss of taste or smell and cough seem to be less common in the Omicron variant. It also appears to cause milder symptoms, but this could be due to vaccination status or partial immunity from another variant. So far, the prevailing symptoms for Omicron are fatigue, body aches and headache. Newer signs of Omicron appear to be night sweats, "scratchy" (not very sore) throat, dry cough and mild muscle aches.
Question: I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. What should I do?
A: The CDC has updated its guidelines for those who have tested positive for the virus, shortening the minimum time needed to quarantine from 10 days to 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without a fever for 24 hours), they may exit quarantine, but should still wear a well-fitting mask when around other people to minimize risks of still spreading the virus.
Individuals who do not test positive or who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for at least 10 days. For those who are unvaccinated or who have been vaccinated but not boosted, the CDC recommends quarantining for 5 days after exposure, followed by wearing a mask for 5 days.
For all those exposed, the CDC recommends testing 5 days after exposure. Private insurance companies and group health plans are now required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests that have been authorized, cleared, or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This includes up to eight at-home tests per individual per month. This means a household family of four who shares the same health insurance plan can get up to 32 at-home COVID-19 tests covered per month. For more information about insurance coverage and COVID-19 testing, visit here.
Sign up today for email updates on coronavirus and arthritis.