As the winter season starts, community and family gatherings are more frequent. The chances of getting sick will increase as people venture out to see family and friends during the holidays. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19 numbers have been surging as the holiday season starts, but treatment is available to mitigate the impact of the illnesses and prevent its severity. 

“We are in the middle of the winter surge, with hospital visits and COVID-19 cases increasing. We need everybody to take the proper measures to reduce the spread of the virus for the holidays.” Dr. Rita Nguyen said as she explained the steps people should take to protect themselves. “We need to change the narrative of people isolating then seeking treatment, as there is another alternative as a treatment is readily available as soon as you test positive for covid.”

Nguyen is the assistant health officer for the State of California and the director of population health at the California Department of Public Health. She oversees the Centers for Healthy Communities, Family Health, Environmental Health, and Health Statistics and Informatics. 

She said that COVID-19 treatments are either a pill or IV. Nguyen also suggests that treatment begins in the first five to seven days after symptoms start for the treatment to be effective. 

Antiviral treatments stop the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, which can limit the effects of COVID-19 and also help people to test negative sooner. Paxlovid and Molnupiravir can be taken at home. There is also Remdesivir, which is usually given by a healthcare provider by IV. 

Dr. Jasmeet Bains highlighted that the lack of information about COVID-19 and the treatment options available in rural areas also affect the numbers increasing for the winter season. 

“Most people living in rural areas get their information based on their doctor or from other people in their community, and with the lack of physicians in many of these areas because of the pandemic, the information may not be as concrete,” Bains said. 

Bains is a board-certified family physician providing primary care to families to help create healthier outcomes in our most vulnerable communities. Bains advocates for flexible and more affordable access to healthcare and for COVID-19 resources to be sent to these areas as the lack of treatment options leads to unnecessary hospitalizations. 

There are many different ways of receiving treatment for COVID-19, as you do not need health insurance or U.S. citizenship for COVID-19 pills. You can call your doctor or go to urgent care for help. You can also find a Test-to-Treat location, like Optum Serve Center. To find a site, call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at (833) 422-4255. Lastly, you can call your local pharmacy to speak to pharmacists, as they may be able to give you a prescription for treatment.

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