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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.

We now know that COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. It’s important to understand how to live our lives while keeping ourselves, loved ones and community as safe as possible. How can we do that? By using all the tools we’ve learned so far: getting vaccinated and boosted, getting tested and staying home if sick or exposed, wearing a mask in crowds, and keeping our distance.

If you have COVID or have been exposed, see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below:

Click each question to learn more

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.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or think you have been exposed, you can help prevent the spread of the virus to others in your home and community. Please follow the guidance below. Please note the additional guidance for specific settings here:
• People who are staying, working, or visiting in a health care facility should follow the guidance in Interim Recommendations for SARS-CoV- 2 Infection Prevention and Control in Healthcare Settings.
• If you work or are staying in a crowded work site, temporary worker housing, commercial maritime setting, corrections or detention facility, homeless shelter, or transitional housing, please follow the guidance under Information for people staying or working in certain congregate settings.

You should monitor for symptoms for 10 days after your last contact and wear a mask in public indoor spaces. If symptoms develop, consult with a healthcare provider.

• Wear a high-quality mask or respirator around others at home and in public. Continue to wear a mask even if you test negative for COVID-19 for 10 days.

o Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.
o If someone is unable to wear a mask due to being less than 2 years of age or having a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, other preventive actions (such as improving ventilation) should be used to avoid transmission during these 10 days.

• Avoid being around people at high risk of severe disease, and do not go to high risk settings (e.g., healthcare facilities).
• Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
• 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?
• See Travel | CDC for information on travel.
• See Interim SARS-CoV-2 Self-Testing Guidance (wa.gov) for guidance if you are using a self-test.

 

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.

What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 (PDF) (wa.gov)

Symptom Decision Tree for Non-Health Care Settings and the Public (PDF) (wa.gov)

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.

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.

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

On Monday, 12/27, CDC announced in a press release that they are updating their guidance on isolation and quarantine times for the general public. DOH similarly followed to adopt CDC’s guidance for the general public on 12/28.

In subsequent meetings, the CDC has indicated the guidance released earlier this week was intended for the general public, and they will be releasing additional I&Q guidance for some congregant settings soon. While we await official, updated guidance from CDC, WA DOH is assessing certain setting-specific isolation and quarantine recommendations for non-healthcare congregate settings. In light of this, WA DOH recommends that people staying, working/learning in the following settings continue to follow existing DOH and CDC guidance (not the general public guidance which was updated earlier this week) until updated sector/setting specific recommendations are available.

Commercial maritime settings such as commercial seafood and cargo ships

  • Crowded work sites where physical distancing is not possible due to the nature of the work, such as in warehouses, factories, and food packaging and meat processing facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters and transitional housing
  • Temporary worker housing
  • Schools and childcare – School guidance  Childcare guidance.
  • Institutions of higher education

Further, to ensure occupational health and safety, employers should refer to and follow all applicable worksite requirements outlined by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

Follow the guidance outlined below:

 

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

If you test positive for COVID-19, you can help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others. Please follow the guidance below regarding treatment, isolation, and mask wearing. Please also follow any, workplace, business, or school policies for people who test positive for COVID-19, which may be more restrictive than WA State Department of Health guidance.

People who test positive for COVID-19 or those who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting test results should isolate at home away from others except to get medical care. People with COVID-19 can transmit it to others. Isolating at home helps keep other people from getting sick. You should isolate regardless of your vaccination status. If a vaccinated person gets COVID-19, they can still transmit the infection to others, but being vaccinated for COVID-19 makes them much less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. Ask others to do your shopping or use a grocery delivery service. If you need food or other support while you isolate at home, Care Connect Washington is available. Call the COVID-19 Information hotline at 1-800- 525-0127, then press #, or reach out to your Care Connect hub. Language assistance is available. Do not travel, go to work, school, child care, or public areas, or use public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. During isolation:

  • Separate as much as possible from others at home, including household members and pets, by staying in a specific room away from other people and using a separate bathroom, if possible. CDC has more information about COVID-19 and Animals.
  • Wear a high quality mask or respirator if you must be around others at home or in
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if
  • Do not share personal household items, like cups, towels, and
  • Monitor your If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • If you have a routine medical appointment (as opposed to emergency care), call before you go and tell your health care provider you have COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19.

 How long do I need to isolate myself and wear a mask?

If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home in order to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others.

Ending Isolation

How long you should isolate depends on several factors:

  • Whether you can wear a well-fitting mask,
  • Whether you continue to test positive for COVID-19 during days 6-10 after 5 days of isolation,
  • Whether you are severely ill with COVID-19 or have a weakened immune system, and
  • Whether you are staying or working in a congregate

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms:

Isolate for at least 5 days after your symptoms first appeared. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if:

  • Your symptoms are improving 5 days after the start of your isolation, AND
  • You have not had a fever for 24 hours without use of fever reducing-medication

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but have not had any symptoms: Isolate for at least 5 days after you tested positive for COVID-19. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if you have not developed any symptoms.

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation should start over. Follow the recommendations above for ending isolation if you had symptoms.

Regardless of when you end isolation, take the following steps for the 10 days after you developed symptoms (or tested positive, if you never developed symptoms):

  • Wear a well-fitting and high-quality mask or respirator around others at home and in public for at least 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period.
  • Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and do not go to healthcare facilities (including nursing homes) and other high-risk settings.
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work.
  • If symptoms recur or worsen, you should restart your isolation period at day
  • See Travel | CDC for information on

 

What treatment options are available?

Test to Treat  – 

Access to Free telehealth option  – available to everyone, regardless of insurance status – no out-of-pocket cost

Anyone in Washington state who tests positive for COVID-19, including with a self-test, can arrange a free consultation with a health care provider using a smartphone or computer with a high-speed internet connection. If appropriate, they can receive a free prescription for pick-up at the nearest pharmacy that has the oral antivirals or have their medication delivered. Currently, more than 1,000 sites have oral antivirals available to allocate across the state.

Those interested to arrange an appointment by phone can call the DOH COVID-19 call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press #. The call center is available to arrange telehealth consultations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST on Mondays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST on Tuesdays through Sundays and state holidays.

If an individual is between the ages of 12-17, pregnant, nursing, and needs additional language assistance, or other COVID-19 services, they should arrange an appointment through the DOH COVID-19 call center.

Telehealth appointments are currently available in 240 languages through translation services.  People interested in receiving a telehealth appointment in a language other than English should arrange an appointment through the DOH COVID-19 call center.

DOH’s new telehealth webpage provides additional information on this service, and is available in Spanish here

 Test to Trea​t locator

Oral Antiviral treatments

5.22 blog post on treatment options in Benton and Franklin Counties

COVID19 Therapies Quick Guide

Oral antiviral treatment help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system. By getting treatment, you could have less serious symptoms and may lower the chances of your illness getting worse and needing care in the hospital. Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are available for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, who are not in the hospital, who have had symptoms for five days or less, and who are at high risk for severe illness

Antiviral medications are used to treat viral infections that cause disease.  They not only prevent viruses from growing and spreading throughout the body, but they also lower the viral load, boost immunity, and can reduce symptoms of illness.

For COVID-19, there are currently two oral antivirals available for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Paxlovid and Malnupiravir, and one intravenous antiviral, Remdesivir.  

The oral antivirals for COVID-19 must be started within five days of symptom onset to be effective and are only used for people with confirmed infections.  The primary use case is for those who have mild to moderate illness with a goal of preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

In some states, demand outweighs supply and it may be hard for providers and patients to get antivirals.  Staying up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters continues to be the best form of protection against severe illness.

Do not go to the emergency room seeking these medications if you don’t require emergency care. If you’re experiencing symptoms, check with your regular doctor if you have one, or visit an urgent care clinic.

People should talk with their healthcare provider about whether these medicines may be right for them.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Antibodies are proteins that people’s bodies make to fight viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body. They are called monoclonal antibodies. If you are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you may want to consider a monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment. You may qualify for a mAb treatment (bebtelovimab) to treat COVID-19 depending on your age, health history, and how long you have had symptoms.

Monoclonal antibodies work by mimicking one of your body’s immune responses. When your immune system detects a foreign invader like a virus, it unleashes antibodies. Those antibodies latch onto the virus, telling your immune system which cells to destroy.

 

IV Antivirals

Remdesivir is an established antiviral drug that is FDA approved and is not currently distributed by WADOH. It works by blocking the virus from making copies of itself (replicating). Remdesivir is given through a needle in the vein (intravenously) over time, which is called an IV infusion.

Remdesivir is approved for the treatment of non-hospitalized adults and children who are at high risk for severe COVID-19. On April 25, 2022, the FDA expanded this approval to include children at least 28 days old who weigh at least 3 kg (about 6.6 pounds) and who are at risk for developing severe disease, making remdesivir the first FDA-approved treatment for children under age 12.

Remdesivir should be started as soon as possible, and within seven days of when symptoms began, so it’s important for people at high risk to connect with their health care provider if they have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19. The treatment is given as a series of three IV infusions, given once a day for three consecutive days.

Not all health care facilities can offer outpatient remdesivir treatment – patients should speak to their health care provider to see if it may be a potential treatment option.

Remdesivir is also used to treat patients who are hospitalized with more severe illness due to COVID-19. If you are hospitalized due to COVID-19, your health care providers will decide if remdesivir or other treatments are needed.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis 

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication designed to block a virus from attachment and entering human cells. Unlike other currently available monoclonal antibodies, Evusheld is a long-acting antibody that has been authorized for use only to prevent or protect someone before they are exposed to COVID-19. Evusheld is not for the treatment of symptoms due to COVID-19 and is not given following an exposure to someone with COVID-19; it is given to prevent infection before an exposure.

    How do I get treatment for COVID-19?

    If you are at high risk for being hospitalized for COVID-19, get tested soon and treated early. Anti-viral pills or other treatment options may lower the chances of your illness getting worse if you take them within 5 days of symptoms. Treatment is free, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

    Here are three ways to get treatment:

    1. Speak to your healthcare provider first. They can give you a prescription that you can get filled at participating pharmacies or anywhere anti-viral pills are available.
    2. Schedule a telehealth visit. If you do not have a health care provider or if a provider can’t see you within 48 hours, contact Washington State Department of Health at 1–800–525–0127, then press # or go to doh.wa.gov/Covid19Telehealth to schedule a free telehealth appointment, available in 240 languages. Patients without the ability to have a video visit can have a phone visit. If you have already been tested, you may bring your test result from an at-home (antigen) test or a testing site to your telehealth visit. The test should be taken in the treatment window within 5 days of the onset of symptoms.
    3. Visit a Test to Treat clinic to receive testing and treatment in one visit. To find a clinic, enter your zip code into the Test to Treat locator or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish and more than 150 other languages.  Locally you can call Birdseye Medical  at 1-360-688-7044 and you will be linked to a provider via a telehealth visit who will determine if treatment is appropriate for you and if so they will call the treatment into a local pharmacy of your choice.

    Care Connect Washington - Help with Quarantine or Isolation

    Support is available for those experiencing difficulty safely quarantining or isolating from COVID-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.

    Call and leave a message on our COVID line – 509-460-4358 – English or 509-460-4359 – Spanish

    State number  – 1 (833) 453-0336

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

    I continue to test positive for COVID with a home test after my 10-day isolation - What do I do?

    We do not recommend testing after 10 days, but if you do a test and it is positive, the safest approach is to continue to isolate until your antigen test is negative. It is helpful to repeat the test within 48 hours to rule out a false positive.

    If you are unable to continue isolating, make sure to wear a high-quality mask, maintain distance from other people when you can, and avoid spending time in enclosed spaces around other people. If you have concerns about how long you have been testing positive, contact your health provider.

    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?

    Ending Isolation

    How long you should isolate depends on several factors:

    • Whether you can wear a well-fitting mask,
    • Whether you continue to test positive for COVID-19 during days 6-10 after 5 days of isolation,
    • Whether you are severely ill with COVID-19 or have a weakened immune system, and
    • Whether you are staying or working in a congregate setting.

    If you tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms:
    Isolate for at least 5 days after your symptoms first appeared. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if:

    • Your symptoms are improving 5 days after the start of your isolation, AND
    • You have not had a fever for 24 hours without use of fever reducing-medication

    If you tested positive for COVID-19 but have not had any symptoms: Isolate for at least 5 days after you tested positive for COVID-19. You can leave isolation after 5 full days if you have not developed any symptoms.

    If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation should start over. Follow the recommendations above for ending isolation if you had symptoms.

    Regardless of when you end isolation, take the following steps for the 10 days after you developed symptoms (or tested positive, if you never developed symptoms):

    • Wear a well-fitting and high-quality mask or respirator around others at home and in public for at least 5 additional days (day 6 through day 10) after the end of your 5-day isolation period.
    • Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and do not go to healthcare facilities (including nursing homes) and other high-risk settings.
    • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work.
    • If symptoms recur or worsen, you should restart your isolation period at day 0.
    • See Travel | CDC for information on travel.

    How to calculate your isolation period:
    If you have symptoms, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed.
    If you have not had any symptoms, day 0 is the date you were tested. Day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for your positive test.

    Using antigen testing to determine when to leave isolation and remove your mask
    If you have access to an antigen test, you can further decrease your risk of infecting others by taking a test when you plan to leave isolation, no sooner than day 6. Only start testing if you are fever free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Loss of taste or smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and should not delay the end of isolation.

    • If your test is positive, you are likely still contagious. You should continue to isolate and wear a mask and wait 24-48 hours to test again.
    • If you test negative on two sequential tests each performed 24-48 hours apart, you can end isolation and stop wearing a mask before day 10.

    If you continue to test positive on repeat testing through 10 days, you should continue to wear a mask and avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease until you receive two sequential negative antigen test results.

    See the DOH Isolation and Quarantine Calculator tool for assistance.

    What to do if you test positive for COVID-19 (PDF) (wa.gov)

    What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19 (PDF) (wa.gov)

    Symptom Decision Tree for Non-Health Care Settings and the Public (PDF) (wa.gov)

    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:

    • Be vaccinated, and up to date with boosters
    • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
    • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
    • Talk to your medical provider about Monoclonal Antibody Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

    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.

    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.