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
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.
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,
- 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.
If you have/develop a fever, self-isolate for at least 10 days plus 24 hours without fever (and without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms improve.
If you have no symptoms at the end of your self-isolation period, you can resume normal activities. 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.
If you are identified as a close contact (within 6 feet of someone, regardless of face coverings, for a cumulative 15 minutes or more within 24 hours – 48 hours from the other individuals symptom onset or positive test date), you should quarantine to prevent infecting others in case you are carrying the virus and contagious. This includes asymptomatic household members who live with someone who is in isolation and the quarantine start date begins the last time they were within 6 feet of that household member or, if close contact cannot be avoided, until the individual has passed their isolation period.
CDC, DOH and BFHD currently recommend a quarantine period of 14 days after the last date of contact with a sick individual. There are certain exemptions of quarantine for essential workers who are identified as close contacts. Employees should consult their employer.
- Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option. Monitor your symptoms during this time, and if you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 days, get tested. 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, and
- People who work on fishing or seafood processing vessels.
If you test positive at any time during your quarantine period, use the isolation guidelines above.
Specifics for Vaccinated Individuals
According to the CDC, vaccinated personal with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure
- If vaccinated individuals become symptomatic, it is recommended they do a molecular test to rule out breakthrough exposure. If positive, follow isolation guidelines above and work with contract tracers to identifiy close contacts.
Click each question to learn more
Isolation & Quarantine Resources
CDC Isolate if You are Sick
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:
- DOH- I tested positive Contact tracing: What Will They Ask Me? English
- DOH- I tested positive Contact tracing: What Will They Ask Me? Spanish
- DOH- I tested positive Contact tracing: What Will They Ask Me? Other languages
- DOH- I was in contact with someone who tested positive Contact Tracing: What Will They Ask Me? English
- DOH- I was in contact with someone who tested positive Contact Tracing: What Will They Ask Me? Spanish
- DOH- I was in contact with someone who tested positive Contact Tracing: What Will They Ask Me? Additional languages
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 based on if the employee is an essential worker – and based on local circumstances and resources. This includes not going to work (see below for essential worker guidance). A negative test result does not shorten that quarantine period.
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.
There are some exceptions for healthcare or other essential workers. Your employer should have a health and safety plan, and you should follow instructions from public health staff when they call to inform you that you are a contact or to check in during quarantine. Do not assume you are an essential worker or are otherwise exempt from the quarantine period.
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?
- CDC Precautions for People at Increased Risk
- CDC Resources for Older Adults
- CDC Resources for People with Certain Medical Conditions
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:
- Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
- Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
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.
I am at high risk, how do I take care of myself?
- CDC Stress and Coping during COVID-19
- CDC Employees Coping with Workplace Stress During COVID-19
- CDC What to do if you are sick
If you have questions about support and care coordination during isolation or quarantine, please call (833) 453-0336.