Frequently asked questions
If you test positive for COVID-19, or your health care provider suspects you have COVID-19, stay home and self-isolate except to get urgent medical care, even if you are not experiencing symptoms. Do not go to work or class, and:
- Notify the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at email@example.com or 206.616.3344. UW medical center personnel should contact their respective employee health services.
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from other household members, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a face covering when around other people.
Self-isolate by staying home and avoiding contact with other people:
- For at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared (if you don’t have symptoms, 10 days since you took your COVID-19 test) and
- For at least 24 hours since you had a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Until your symptoms have improved
People with certain medical conditions might need to stay home longer than 10 days. Talk to your health care provider for more information.
After you complete the recommended isolation period, you have a low risk of transmitting the virus to others. A COVID-19 test result can continue to be positive for up to 12 weeks after recovering from COVID-19. Therefore, if you have recovered and you no longer have COVID-19 symptoms, you should not retest during the three months after your symptoms started.
You should get retested if new COVID-19 symptoms develop and more than 3 months have passed since your symptoms started, because you may be infectious and need to follow the guidance for self-isolation.
University units are asked to refrain from requesting or requiring a doctor’s note, a negative test result or positive antibody test following COVID-19 illness per state and local public health guidelines.
If you had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should contact the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.616.3344, and a public health professional will give you guidance to keep yourself and others safe, based on your particular circumstances.
Close contact means being within 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period (even if you were both wearing face coverings), living with or caring for an individual who has COVID-19, or having direct contact with infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils).
If you are fully vaccinated, you:
- Do not need to quarantine if you have no symptoms of COVID-19 and do not develop any symptoms within 14 days of your exposure.
- Quarantine if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or develop symptoms within 14 days of your exposure.
- Get tested 3 to 5 days after your exposure, even if you have no symptoms.
- Wear a face covering for 14 days after your exposure.
If you are not fully vaccinated, stay home and away from other people after your last in-person contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, even if you have no symptoms. If you are unvaccinated and/or if you develop symptoms, the safest ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are to:
- Stay home and away from other people (quarantine) for 14 days after your last contact with a COVID-19 positive person; and
- Get tested for COVID-19 five or more days after your last contact.
Staying home for 14 days may present hardships for some individuals. If you are unable to stay home and away from other people for 14 days, you can end quarantine after 10 days if you meet all of the following conditions:
- You have no symptoms of COVID-19 and you monitor your health daily to watch for symptoms through Day 14.
- Get tested at least 8 days after your last contact with a COVID-19 positive person. The test result must be negative to end quarantine on Day 10.
- Students living in residence halls must confirm a negative PCR test result to end quarantine on Day 10.
- Complete both surveys the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team sends to you on Day 10 and on Day 14.
Continue to take strict precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others, avoiding crowded settings, and always wearing a face covering outside your home and in common areas of congregate living environments. Remember, if you were infected, you can transmit the virus at any time during the 14-day period after your last contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
You do not need to quarantine if:
- You tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 3 months, you have recovered, and you have no COVID-19 symptoms.
- You are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and you do not develop any COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of your exposure to a COVID-positive person.
Below is information about quarantine timelines under three scenarios.
Scenario 1: You had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, and you will not have further close contact with that person while they have COVID-19.
If you are unvaccinated and/or you develop symptoms, your quarantine period starts on the last date you had close contact with a person who has COVID-19. Your quarantine starts on Day 0 and ends on Day 14, or as instructed by the contact tracer according to the guidance listed above. If you are fully vaccinated you are not required to quarantine unless you develop symptoms.
Scenario 2. You are staying home (in quarantine) because you had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 and you had additional close contact with a COVID-positive person during your quarantine.
If you are quarantining and have additional close contact with a person who has COVID-19, or a new household member gets sick with COVID-19 during your quarantine period, you will restart your quarantine. Your new start date will be the last date you had contact with any person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Scenario 3: You have a household member who has COVID-19 and you cannot avoid continued close contact.
If you cannot avoid close contact with a COVID-positive person you live with because you are caring for them, you don’t have a separate bedroom, or you are unable to keep a distance of 6 feet from the person, stay home and avoid contact with other people while the COVID-19 positive person is isolating at home. Your quarantine period starts after the person who has COVID-19 meets the criteria to end home isolation.
Quarantine and self-isolation both involve staying home and avoiding contact with other people.
- Quarantine keeps a person who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease before a person knows they have COVID-19.
- Isolation separates individuals who have COVID-19 from people who do not have COVID-19. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 need to self-isolate, even if they experience no symptoms.