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HHS updates Covid-19 guidelines

HOLLYWOOD – The Seminole Tribe’s Health and Human Services (HHS) department has updated its Covid-19 quarantine and isolation guidelines.

According to HHS executive director Dr. Vandhana Kiswani-Barley, if a person has tested positive for Covid-19 or has been exposed to someone who has the virus, the quarantine and isolation period is now five days instead of 10.

The new guideline took effect June 27. In addition, there is no longer a mandatory quarantine period for those returning from international travel.

Quarantine is a strategy to prevent transmission of the virus by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19 apart from others. Kiswani-Barley said tribal members who develop symptoms in quarantine – usually within five days – should contact their local clinic.

Isolation takes place, she said, when an individual is sick and has tested positive for Covid-19, even without symptoms. HHS recommends that those in isolation stay home, separate from others, wear a mask and stay in a “sick room” or other area and use a separate bathroom when available.

“We’re seeing that most people who are positive resolve their symptoms in five days,” she said. “However, you should wear a mask for another five days to keep others safe.”

She said travel should be avoided during the 10 day period (five days quarantine/isolation, five days mask use) when possible.

Kiswani-Barley added that there’s currently no requirement to retest for the virus. However, she said it’s important for tribal members to contact their health clinic if symptoms aren’t resolving or worsen, and if someone is in an immuno-compromised status.

The new guidelines come as positive cases ebbed and flowed in May and June.

“It’s going to go up, it’s going to go down,” Kiswani-Barley said. “The important thing is to have no hospitalizations or deaths.”

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Covid-19 vaccine for those six months and older. HHS is administering those vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – in local health clinics.

In addition, Kiswani-Barley said tribal members should look for health fairs to be coming their way starting in the second week of July at all the reservations. At press time HHS was still working on a date for the Tampa community. The health fairs will feature vendors and there will be wellness checks for blood sugar, blood pressure and more. Questions about quarantine, isolation or vaccinations can be directed to the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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