HONOLULU (KHON2) — COVID cases continue to climb, which also means more people staying home from work. Those who test positive need to take precautions while they’re at home and when they return to work.

Hawaii’s weekly COVID case counts have shot up for nine consecutive weeks. The Hawaii Department of Health said it expects the trend to continue. So it’s important for people to take precautions to help prevent the spread.

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If you’re feeling sick with symptoms like fever, sore throat, and congestion, isolate and take a COVID test. If you test positive, DOH recommends that you notify close contacts and continue to isolate for five full days after the test.

“If I tested positive today, today is day zero, tomorrow is day one. So it’s five full days of home isolation,” said DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr.

After five days and your symptoms have improved, you can go back to work only if you are fever free for at least 24 hours without having to take fever reducing medication. Baehr says it’s not necessary to test for COVID again before returning to work because the virus is likely still in your system, but you won’t be as contagious. The important thing is to take added precautions like wearing a tight fitting mask, like a KN95, when you return to work.

“Avoid close contacts, wear that well fitting mask, and wherever you are, see if you can improve ventilation. Get some fans going, rolling down windows in cars, that kind of thing,” said Baehr.

You should take these added precautions at work for another five days. And during that time avoid crowds and don’t go to places where you wind up taking your mask off, like a restaurant.

Officials say the surge in COVID cases is also taking a toll on healthcare workers.

“We have over 600 healthcare, these are frontline healthcare personnel, who are out right now because they’re either COVID positive or they are a close contact,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii president and CEO.

Raethel said hospitals are full and are already planning to bring in up to 200 nurses from the mainland.

“It’s not the sheer volume of the patients that’s the challenge, it’s finding enough staff to take care of all the patients we do have,” he said.

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Raethel said if the numbers don’t improve, hospitals might have to go back to holding off on elective procedures.