SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One of these days, you're likely to wake up with a cough or a runny nose and in this third winter with COVID-19. With many of us back at work, what should you do if you're sick?
It's getting more complicated to figure out what to consider this cold, flu and COVID season. There are already reports of not only another COVID surge with new subvariants, but also more flu virus circulating.
"You think you've got a cold. Its some kind of bug. It could be COVID, it could be influenza, it could be a respiratory syncytial virus or RSV," UC Berkeley School of Public Health epidemiologist Dr John Swartzberg said. "I think we lived our lives prior to the pandemic, sort of saying 'yeah I've got a cold.' I know it could spread to someone but I'm not very sick. They won't get very sick and go on with their daily lives."
Dr Swartzberg described what has changed. "We have a much more serious virus circulating now than before the pandemic, and I think we have to be more prudent. So frankly, if you're sick, I think you should stay home," he said.
Workers and managers are trying to sort it out. COVID tests are useful if you wake up with a sore throat or stuffy nose, but check the expiration dates - many of the government issued tests are already expired, and the kits are far from foolproof.
"If it's negative, then you're not assured you still don't have COVID, particularly if it's early in the illness," Dr Swartzberg said.
Navigating all of this is going to be tricky this fall and winter. Dr. Swartzberg predicts workers will make decisions, and employers will have to make concessions and we will have to rethink what it means to call in sick.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- New omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 could lead COVID winter surge, expert says
- If you had COVID, several of your organs could be aging 3-4 years faster: Study
- Omicron BA.5 strain may shorten COVID immunity from 3 months to 28 days, research shows
- Study shows people are recovering from COVID in a week but testing positive for over 10 days
- Never had COVID? Expert explains chances of getting it now
- EXCLUSIVE: Here's how COVID is detected in wastewater throughout CA
- Map shows COVID-19 community levels in your area, where masks are recommended indoors
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Here's how to take a rapid COVID-19 test accurately at home
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live