13:31 PM

Is It COVID, Allergies Or The Flu?

Testing may be your only answer, but it may require patience

Like many of us, Sharon Holmes needed a break over the holidays from all things COVID.

 As the director of Infection Prevention and Control, Sharon’s life revolves around COVID. She issues daily reports on the number of patients and employees who have tested positive for the virus, provides advice to the Command Center and oversees the team that provides support through the COVID-19 hotline and email.  

But instead of getting a reprieve from COVID, the virus followed Sharon and her family to Galveston where she, along with other family members, tested positive for the disease.

After all, who can tell the difference right now if it’s COVID, allergies or the flu?

Take a look at the similarities between COVID-19 and the flu, provided by the CDC:

  • Fever or feeling feverish
  • Having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  •  Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  •  Change in loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19

Testing COVID PictureSo with so many similarities, testing remains the best way to find out which virus you actually have. In Galveston, Sharon was able to find an at-home test at a local pharmacy that confirmed what she expected: everyone in her family had COVID. Fortunately, everyone in her family was also fully vaccinated, including her younger children who fall in the 5-11 age group, and they are all doing fine now.

But lately it’s not so easy to find a test with so many of us experiencing symptoms. So what should you do until you know for sure? Simply put, if you are feeling sick or showing symptoms, stay home.

Cook Children’s more than doubled the number of people it tested last week with 1,606 using our drive-thru. The previous saw 700 to 800 per week. If you have called or emailed our COVID-19 Center you may have noticed a longer wait than usual for someone to get back to you.

 “We are so busy right now and we have staff members who are dealing with illness like everyone else. We are trying our best to keep up with all the phone calls and emails,” Sharon said. “Right now, we ask for your patience and kindness. We are working as fast as we can to get back to you as soon as possible.”

COVID home test If you are able to find an at-home test or receive one at another location, please feel free to do so and then email the COVID-19 Center  at  COVID19OHS@cookchildrens.org with your results. 

What To Do If You Are Getting Tested

If you are showing symptoms and want to be tested at Cook Children’s, please email COVID19OHS@cookchildrens.org or call 682-303-1661. Please remember that the abbreviated number to call is ext. 31661 (not 51661). To leave a message, please provide the following information:

  • Your name, employee number and department where you work.
  • Your phone number for someone to call you back.
  •  When and where you were exposed to the virus.
  • If and when you started showing symptoms.
  • If you received a home test that shows you are positive, please send a photo of the results to the email above.

 A couple of important notes to remember:

  • Please copy your supervisor or inform them that you will be out if you test positive. Please don’t assume that someone will let your supervisor know you will not make your shift.
  •  When you email or leave a message with your phone number, please answer any phone calls that come your way until you hear back from someone in Infection Control at Cook Children’s. Because Infection Control members are short staffed and some team members are working from home, a variety of personal phone numbers and numbers from Cook Children’s are calling staff back, so please answer your phone.

 Click here to read more on Cook Children’s “return to work policy” for those infected with the COVID-19 virus and those who have been exposed.

 Dr. Mazade praises the work of the Infectious Control and Occupational Health teams, but reminds us that we are all in this together.

 “We have to do our part to protect each other and the families under our care,” Dr. Mazade said. “With the number of cases on the rise again, we have to go back to where we were in 2020. That means wearing our masks at all times, even when we aren’t at work, washing our hands, social distancing, and most importantly getting all of us who can vaccinated and boostered. I know everyone is tired of hearing about this, but we have to continue to do the right things so we can fight this virus.”

What You Need to Know About At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits

A variety of brands on the market offer the convenience of testing for COVID-19 at home. These kits can be purchased at retail stores or online as an alternative to seeking out a testing site or busy healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test.  Click here.