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What to do if you are sick or exposed

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The best way to contain disease, is to know your COVID status.

Test Recommendations

The best way to contain disease, is to know your COVID status. Get tested if:
– You have symptoms of COVID-19
– You have been exposed to COVID-19
– A provider has suggested you be tested
– You need to know your COVID-19 status

Definitions

Isolation describes when someone has been exposed and has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, stays home and away from others (including household members) to avoid spreading their illness.

Quarantine describes when someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 stays home for the recommended amount of time in case they have been infected or is contagious. Quarantine becomes isolation if the person develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. The timeline away from other would then start over according to isolation guidelines.

Close Contact is a person who has been within 6 feet of an individual within 2 days of them testing positive for COVID-19, or 2 days from symptom onset, for 15 minutes or more in any 24 hour period. If your phone has the WA Notify application installed and in use, you may get notified anonymously that you have been a close contact with someone based on how your phone has been distanced from a positive person’s phone.

Click each question to learn more

I had close contact with someone who tested positive COVID-19 but I am not sick. What should I do?

If You’re Not Yet Fully Vaccinated
You should get tested for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and quarantine at home and away from others. If your first test is negative, you should get tested again 5-7 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19 and continue to quarantine. Wear a mask if you must be around other people inside or outside your household. Watch for symptoms for 14 days after your last contact, and if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested and follow the steps under I had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and now I’m sick. What should I do?.

Current quarantine recommendations are to stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. Certain high-risk settings or groups should use the 14-day quarantine option:
• People who work or stay in an acute or long-term healthcare setting.
• People who work or stay in a correctional facility.
• People who work or stay in a shelter or transitional housing.
• People who live in communal housing such as dormitories, fraternities or sororities.
• People who work in crowded work situations where physical distancing is impossible due to the nature of the work such as in a warehouse or factory.
• People who work on fishing or seafood processing vessels.

If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 10 days, stay in quarantine for the full 14 days and get tested.
Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.

It may be possible to end quarantine after 7 full days beginning after your last contact if you have been without symptoms and after receiving a negative result from a test (get tested no sooner than 48 hours before ending quarantine.) This will depend on the availability of testing resources. Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.

 

If You Are Fully Vaccinated
People are considered fully vaccinated:
• 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,
or
• 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

If it has been less than 2 weeks since your final dose, or if you still need to get the second dose, you are NOT fully protected. Keep taking all prevention measures until you are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines must be authorized for emergency use, licensed, or otherwise approved by the FDA; or listed for emergency use or otherwise approved by the World Health Organization.

Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine after close contact with a person who has COVID-19, but they should get tested for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) 5-7 days after their last contact with the person who has COVID-19, monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their last contact, and wear a mask in public indoor spaces until receipt of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result or for 14 days after their last contact if not tested.

If symptoms develop, get tested and follow the steps under I had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and now I’m sick. What should I do?. Fully vaccinated close contacts who are residents in high-risk settings (for example, correctional settings and long term care facilities)
are recommended to quarantine and follow any DOH setting-specific guidance or local health jurisdiction recommendation. 

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and recovered before your close contact with a person with COVID-19

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and recovered before coming into close contact with a person with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine, but you should get tested for COVID-19 with an antigen test 5-7 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19.

You should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after your last contact and wear a mask in public indoor spaces until you receive a negative SARS-CoV-2 antigen test result or for 14 days after last contact if you are not tested. If symptoms develop, consult with a healthcare provider.

Close contacts who recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days and are residents in high-risk settings (for example, correctional settings) are recommended to quarantine and follow any DOH setting-specific guidance or LHJ recommendation. 

I had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and now I’m sick. What should I do?

If you were exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms (even mild ones), you should stay home and away from others and get tested for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), regardless of vaccination status. Contact your health care provider for a test. Tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are now sick.

If you test negative by an antigen test, your healthcare provider may recommend a confirmatory test. If you are using a self-test, follow the instructions in your self-test antigen testing product.

Wear a mask if you must be around other people inside or outside your household. Other people outside of your household should wear a mask or respirator if you must be around them.

If your symptoms get worse or you develop new symptoms, consult with a healthcare provider. If somebody does not have a health care provider: Many locations have free or low-cost testing, regardless of immigration status. See the Department of Health’s Testing FAQ or call the WA State COVID-19 Information Hotline.

Monitor your symptoms
Get medical help right away if your symptoms get worse. Before you get care, call your health care provider and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms. Put on a face covering before you enter the healthcare facility to protect others in the waiting room and exam rooms. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the dispatch staff that you have COVID-19 symptoms. If possible, put on a face covering before emergency services arrive.

What to do if you test Positive for COVID-19 (Isolation Details)

If you test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for 10 days, even if you don’t have symptoms. This means:

  • Informing your employer,
  • Staying away from everyone, including the people you live with and family members,
    • People: As much as possible, stay in a specific room away from other people and use a separate bathroom if available.
    • Animals: Limit contact with pets and other animals. If possible, have a member of your household care for them. If you must care for an animal, wear a face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
  • Not sharing utensils or bathrooms with others,
  • Only leaving home to seek medical treatment and while wearing a mask, and
  • You will receive a call from a contact tracer to identify close contacts and identify your needs to isolate safely.

How long do I need to isolate myself?
If you tested positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, you can stop your home isolation when:

  • You’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND
  • Your symptoms have gotten better AND
  • At least 10 days have gone by since your symptoms first appeared.

If you tested positive for COVID-19, but have not had any symptoms, you can stop your home isolation when:

  •  At least 10 days have gone by since the date of your first positive COVID-19 test AND
  •  You have not developed symptoms.

    You should isolate regardless of your vaccination status.

 

If you still feel sick, call your doctor for next steps.

Seek medical care immediately or call 911 if someone has emergency warning signs of severe COVID-19:

  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all possible symptoms.  Please call your healthcare provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Before you get care, call your health care provider and tell them that you have COVID-19 symptoms. Put on a face covering before you enter the healthcare facility to protect others in the waiting room and exam rooms. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the dispatch staff that you have COVID-19 symptoms. If possible, put on a face covering before emergency services arrive.

Care Connect Washington - Help with Quarantine or Isolation

Support is available for those experiencing difficulty safely quaranting or isolating from COVD-19. Care Connect Washington serves those who agree to isolate or quarantine, but need help with essentials like groceries, medical and cleaning supply delivery, and other household support like help with rent or bills.

1 (833) 453-0336

  1. Get Tested
  2. Stay Home
  3. Get a Call
  4. Get Help

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+ DOH.WA.GOV/Coronavirus

 

What is Contact Tracing?

Contact tracing is a way to identify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Contact tracing helps track and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We tell close contacts they might have been exposed to a person with COVID-19. We give them education, information, and support to understand their risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.

Here are resources explaining what to expect:

When can I go back to work?

I had to quarantine because I’m a close contact of a case. Can I go back to work if I test negative?

Not necessarily. People who have been exposed to COVID are instructed to quarantine at home for a full 14 days after their most recent exposure or shorter (10 day or 7 day) depending on employer policies. It can take time for symptoms to appear, and no test is 100% accurate. Even if you test negative, you risk spreading the virus if you either tested too soon to detect it or if your result was a false negative.

For Anyone Who Has Been Around a Person with COVID-19

Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure to that person, except if they meet the following conditions:

Someone who has been fully vaccinated and shows no symptoms of COVID-19 does not need to quarantine. However, fully vaccinated close contacts should:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until a negative test result.
  • Get tested 3-5 days after close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Get tested and isolate immediately if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 with a viral test within the previous 90 days and has subsequently recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms does not need to quarantine. However, close contacts with prior COVID-19 infection in the previous 90 days should:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure.
  • Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate immediately if symptoms develop.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional for testing recommendations if new symptoms develop.

I think or know I had COVID-19, and I had symptoms

You can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

Note that these recommendations do not apply to people with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).

I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms

If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since you had a positive viral test for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance above for “I think or know I had COVID-19, and I had symptoms.”

I was severely ill with COVID-19 or have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) caused by a health condition or medication.

People who are severely ill with COVID-19 might need to stay home longer than 10 days and up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared. People with weakened immune systems may require testing to determine when they can be around others. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you can resume being around other people based on the results of your testing.

Children and COVID-19

What Should I Do if My Child Has Symptoms?

Call your doctor if your child has a fever, cough, trouble breathing, sore throat, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, dizziness, or just doesn’t feel well. If your child has been near someone with coronavirus or been in an area where lots of people have coronavirus, tell the doctor. Talk about whether your child needs a test for coronavirus. The doctor can decide whether your child:

  • can be treated at home
  • should come in for a visit
  • can have a video or telehealth visit

In a telehealth visit, a health care provider can see your child on video while you stay at home. If you can, choose a telehealth provider who specializes in caring for kids. If the doctor thinks your child needs care right away, they will guide you on where to go. When possible, check for telehealth in your area before anyone in your family is sick.

Watch for signs that your child might need more medical help. Go to the ER if your child:

  • looks very sick to you
  • has breathing problems. Look for muscles pulling in between the ribs or the nostrils puffing out with each breath.
  • is confused or very sleepy
  • has chest pain
  • has cold, sweaty, pale or blotchy skin
  • is dizzy
  • has very bad belly pain

Call 911 if your child is struggling to breathe, is too out of breath to talk or walk, or turns blue or has fainted.

How Can I Keep My Family Safe if My Child Has Symptoms?

  • Keep your family home until you talk to your doctor. If the doctor thinks your child’s symptoms could be COVID-19, everyone in the household should stay home until testing is done or symptoms are gone. Check the CDC’s website for details.
  • Keep other people and pets in the house away from your child as much as possible.
  • Try to have one person only care for the sick child so others are not exposed.
  • If your child is over 2 years old and can wear a face mask or cloth face covering without finding it hard to breathe, have them wear one when the caregiver is in the room. Don’t leave your child alone while they’re wearing a mask or cloth face covering. The caregiver also should wear one when in the same room. To see how to put on and remove face masks and coverings, clean them, or make your own cloth face covering, check the CDC’s guide.
  • If possible, have your sick child use a different bathroom from others. If that isn’t possible, wipe down the bathroom often.
  • Everyone in your family should wash their hands well and often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Use regular household cleaners or wipes to clean things that get touched a lot (doorknobs, light switches, toys, remote controls, phones, etc.). Do this every day.

I am at high risk, how do I take care of myself?

Reduce your risk of getting COVID-19

It is especially important for people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to:

If you start feeling sick and think you may have COVID-19, get in touch with your healthcare provider within 24 hours.

Stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Staying healthy during the pandemic is important. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations and other preventive services are up to date to help prevent you from becoming ill with other diseases.

  • It is particularly important for those at increased risk of severe illness, including older adults, to receive recommended vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about maintaining preventive services like cancer screenings during the pandemic.
  • Remember the importance of staying physically active and practicing healthy habits to cope with stress.
  • If you have a medical emergency, do not delay seeking emergency care.

 If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan:

  • Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
  • Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an extra supply (i.e., more than 30 days) of prescription medicines, if possible, to reduce your trips to the pharmacy.
  • Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying medical condition because of COVID-19. Emergency departments have contingency infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away.
  • If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest community health center or health department.