Avera reminds public to stay vigilant in watching for COVID-19 symptoms

ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – As certain locations in this region have seen increases of COVID-19 cases, Avera reminds the public of testing guidelines.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms (see below), contact your clinic by phone, go to Avera.org/covidhotline, or call 1-877-AT-AVERA to inquire about diagnostic testing. In Aberdeen, call the Avera St. Luke’s COVID Collection Site at 605-622-8690. An appointment is required for testing.

“COVID is being spread in our communities and South Dakota has recently seen a high rate of positive tests. We’ve also seen increased hospitalizations,” said Todd Forkel, President and CEO. “We all should be taking great care to follow guidelines to help control spread of the virus.”

Tests for people with symptoms who are at low risk for serious symptoms and/or complications may take up to five days to return results. This includes the testing of school children unless they fall into high-risk categories. This also includes asymptomatic people who have been exposed to a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more.

People with symptoms who are at high risk should also call for testing. Turnaround times for those who are high risk may be shorter. Patients at high risk include those with chronic heart or lung disease (including hypertension and chronic asthma/COPD), are over 65 years old, pregnant, or immunosuppressed (including active or prior cancer, HIV, taking immunosuppressive drugs, or diabetes).

The COVID-19 Hotline will call patients with positive results; negative results are mailed.
A diagnostic test includes a nasal swab and it indicates if you have a current, active case of COVID-19. Avera also offers antibody testing, which indicates that you may have had COVID-19 in the past and have developed antibodies to the virus. The antibody test is a blood test and will not indicate if you currently have COVID-19.

If you have symptoms you should isolate at home until test results are returned. If positive, you should isolate at home until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, symptoms are improving, and it’s been at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms.
Those with known exposure to the virus should isolate at home for 14 days regardless of test results.
Symptoms may appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include:

• Fever or chills
• Cough
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Fatigue
• Muscle or body aches
• Headache
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
• Diarrhea

“Most people who contract COVID-19 can safely recover at home,” Forkel said. It’s important to take all possible measures in your home to limit spread to other family members. Practice social distancing; wear masks; don’t share eating utensils, glasses or dishes; and use a separate bedroom/bathroom if possible. Some people with COVID-19 are able to benefit from Avera home care services to prevent hospitalization.

In the case of emergency symptoms that could be life-threatening, get immediate help. Call your local emergency room or 911 to inform them you have COVID-19 symptoms, then go. Emergency symptoms include bluish lips or skin, difficulty breathing, or fever over 104 degrees that doesn’t respond to treatment.

Remember to do what you can to help reduce the spread of COVID-19:

• Wear a mask
• Practice social distancing
• Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
• Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you cannot wash
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Get COVID-19 updates at Avera.org/COVID-19.