COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
There is a lot of frequently changing information regarding COVID and we want our patients to stay informed. The best sources of information are your primary care physician, the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html), and the PA Health Department (https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx). Always follow the advice of your healthcare provider and remember people with chronic conditions may need to take special precautions.
Below is a summary of some frequently asked questions and current guidelines:
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
- Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).
- Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have beenexposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their physician or local health department
Who needs to isolate?
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19and are able to recover at home
- People who have no symptoms (are asymptomatic) but have tested positive for COVID-19
I think or know I had COVID and had symptoms, when can I be with others?
- Follow healthcare provider instructions.
- 3 days with no fever and
- Respiratory symptoms have improved and
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared
I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, when can I be around others?
- If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since test
Who needs to quarantine?
- Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
What counts as close contact?
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
Steps to take during quarantine:
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
- Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
- If possible, stay away others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19
When to Start and End Quarantine:
- Follow health care provider advice
- You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html for common scenarios and proper response
When should I be tested for COVID?
- At this time, there is limited testing supply in Western Pennsylvania, so many places will only test if there are active symptoms present.
- Many testing sites require a physician order
- Many testing sites that do not require a physician order will not test patients under the age of 18 and/or have a screening process to determine eligibility and/or still require an appointment.
- If you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you may want to seek testing. Please note that if you are not symptomatic, you may not be able to be tested. The recommendation is to self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms. If you are able to get testing, it should be done 5-7 days after exposure, but even if there is a negative result, you should still quarantine for the 14 days.
When can I expect testing results?
- Typically at results can be expected in 2-3 days, but at this time, many labs are overwhelmed and it can take over 7 days to get results.