Toolkit - COVID-19 Close Contacts

From Exposure to Feeling Better

If someone tells you you are a close contact (you have been exposed to COVID-19), the following information will help guide you on what to do:

First, you'll want to make sure you really are a "close contact"

Someone you know has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and that person believes they were within six feet of you for 15 minutes or more while they were contagious.  This makes you a close contact and means you were potentially exposed to COVID-19.  An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before they have any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.

What is a Close Contact

I am a Close Contact, what should I do?

You should quarantine at home and away from others to monitor for symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others in case you are infected.   An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (2 days) before they have symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.  If symptoms develop, you should call your doctor to ask about COVID-19 testing.

How long should I quarantine?

The quarantine should be for 14 days from the last day you were potentially exposed – there is a chance by the time you find out you are a close contact, your quarantine may be less than 14 days.

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

If you have symptoms and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first.  CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are made by healthcare providers. The CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page has more information on testing.

What if I don’t have everything I need to stay home and quarantine?

If you find you need something that would take you out of your home, the Community CarePort program through Cascade Pacific Action Alliance may be able to help. Please call 1-800-662-2499 to request assistance.

How do I get a letter excusing me from work while I quarantine?

You will need to reach out to your doctor’s office to request a work exclusion letter.

What is the difference between “Quarantine” and “Isolation”?

Quarantine is the term used when people need to stay home because they have been potentially exposed but they do NOT have any symptoms.   While staying home they need to monitor themselves for symptoms and limit their exposure to others in case they have the virus and could be contagious but don’t know it yet.  More on quarantine below.

Isolation is the term used when people need to stay home because they DO have symptoms (or have tested positive for COVID-19) and are considered contagious.  When you are in isolation, you are or have been feeling sick. Your family members who live in your house with you are quarantined. They need to stay in the house but away from you! More on isolation below.

Quarantine Information

For COVID-19, the quarantine period is 14 days from the last day you were potentially exposed.  If after 14 days you do not have any symptoms, you no longer need to quarantine.  If you do get symptoms at any point during the quarantine period, your quarantine will switch to isolation. 

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine. This means staying in your home for 14 days.  If you have kids or other family members in your household, they can still leave the house, but if you get sick, they will have to stay home too!  During this time, you are feeling just fine.  Maybe worried.  Maybe jealous because your family members can leave the house. You’ll be monitoring your health—taking your temperature every day. You’re probably getting a call every day or so from one of our friends at the health department to make sure you have everything you need. They will help you out if you need to get food, medication, or other supplies picked up without leaving your house.

Count down the days! After 14 days, if you have been healthy this whole time—no fever, no cough, no other symptoms associated with COVID-19—you can leave your house again!

But, if you do get sick, the health department will ask you to isolate yourself from other people as completely as possible.  We get a lot of questions from people about COVID-19, like what should I do if I get exposed? How long should I stay home? This video answers those question.

Isolation Information

For people that have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, the isolation period is at least 10 days from:

  • The very first day your symptoms started AND
  • You have gone at least 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication) AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving, with the exception of loss of taste and smell, which may persist for weeks or months after recovery (this will not delay the end of isolation)

Isolation is very important so you do not spread COVID-19 to anyone else. When you are in isolation, you are feeling sick. Your family members who live in your house with you are quarantined. They need to stay in the house but away from you! You will need to stay isolated for at least 10 days and until your fever has been gone for three days, and the rest of your symptoms are much better.

Exposure to Feeling Better

COVID-19 Testing Information

If you have health insurance…
The best place to start would be to call your doctor’s office to ask about COVID-19 testing.  Let them know you have been identified as a Close Contact and/or you have COVID-19 symptoms and would like to be tested.

If you do not have health insurance…
Call one of the Cowlitz Family Health Center locations to ask about testing:

  • Longview - 12th Avenue Clinic: (360)636-3892
  • Longview - 14th Avenue Clinic: (360)703-6400
  • Kelso Clinic: (360) 353-5511
  • Castle Rock Clinic: (360)274-2353
  • Woodland Clinic: (360)225-4310
  • Wahkiakum Clinic: (360)795-3201

Uninsured adults age 18+ may also call Community Health Partners to ask about testing at the Free Medical Clinic – (360) 442-4165 or (360) 562-2986.

Other options
Washington State Department of Health’s webpage for COVID-19 Testing Locations lists testing information by region across the state.