COVID-19 Case and Exposure Guidance
Updated June 12, 2023
Follow the instructions on the COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart for symptom development, when to get tested for COVID-19, what to do if you test positive or are exposed, and when to report illness.
The University’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan contains additional requirements and guidance for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
UW Medicine responds to COVID-19 cases involving personnel at the University Medicine medical centers.
If you were exposed to an individual who tested positive
- Isolation/quarantine after an exposure is not required if you don’t experience symptoms.
- Immediately start wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator when around others at home and in public and continue masking for at least 10 days after the exposure. Day 1 is the first full day after your exposure.
- Test for COVID-19 on Day 5 and follow CDC guidance regarding repeat testing.
If you develop any symptoms
- Stay home and away from others. You should only leave home to receive testing or medical care.
- Wear a well-fitting mask or respirator while waiting for your test results and while you have symptoms. Masking is recommended when indoors and around others.
- Get tested immediately and remain at home until you receive your test result. Free rapid antigen tests are available on UW campuses.
- Negative Result
- Follow CDC guidance for additional precautions after testing negative.
- After confirming you are COVID-19 negative, you may return to in-person activities once your symptoms have improved and you have not had a fever in 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication).
- Positive Result
- Stay home and away from others for at least 5 days, with day zero being the day symptoms started or the day you took your positive test (if you have no symptoms). You should only leave home to receive medical care.
- Follow the current CDC Isolation Guidance.
- If you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 (per CDC), consult your healthcare provider for isolation guidance, treatments available, and telehealth options that can reduce your chances of being hospitalized.
- People who test positive are strongly encouraged to notify friends, colleagues, and relatives who may been exposed.
Ending isolation after having COVID-19
Regardless of current test results, isolation may end when all of the following are true:
- At least 5 days have passed since you developed symptoms or tested positive (if no symptoms); and
- You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication; and
- Your symptoms have improved (if you had symptoms).
- If you continue to have a fever, or other symptoms have not improved after your initial isolation period, continue isolating until meeting the criteria listed above. If your COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart your isolation at day 0.
- Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation. Individuals with weakened immune systems and those who have moderate or severe illness should talk with their healthcare provider before ending isolation.
- Wear a well-fitting mask or respirator when around others at home and in public for 5 additional days (through day 10). If you choose to re-test at the end of day 5 (voluntarily), and for conditions for removing your mask prior to day 10, follow CDC guidance.
- After your required masking period ends, follow the UW Face Covering Policy while on campus and at UW events. Follow CDC guidelines on removing your mask after ending isolation.
Reporting and case follow-up
UW personnel who believe their positive COVID-19 test was the result of a workplace exposure are required to submit an incident report (OARS). Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) will review the report and follow up with the individual. Learn more about incident reporting.
If a supervisor believes personnel under their supervision are experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 (more than 10% of personnel are out sick and have tested positive), contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 616-3344 for EH&S assistance and follow up.
UW Medicine responds to COVID-19 cases involving personnel at UW Medicine medical facilities.
As of June 12, 2023, the University of Washington will no longer be providing contact tracing for COVID-19. However, people who test positive are strongly encouraged to notify friends, colleagues, and relatives who may have been exposed.
Notifications and privacy
As of June 12, 2023, area notifications will not be sent out if a contagious individual was at a University location. However, it is strongly encouraged for that individual to let close contacts know of their positive COVID-19 test.
If personnel choose to notify EH&S about their positive test, the identity of individuals who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and their close contacts is protected and is disclosed only on a need-to-know basis to those involved in the public health response. This may include UW Human Resources representatives, supervisors, and department or unit leadership.