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Common questions about COVID-19 and testing

While COVID-19 vaccines are on the way to the general population, we all still need to remain vigilant about taking precautions against the virus. In the meantime, what should you do if you or someone in your household shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19?

Whether you live with roommates, immediate or extended family, or a partner or spouse, it’s important to know what to do if someone under your roof gets sick. These questions and answers should help.

What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is used to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

What should I do if someone in my house was exposed to COVID-19?

When someone is in close contact with someone who tests positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises to stay home for 14 days, whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms.

It's not always easy to lock down a household completely when someone is in quarantine. Some members may need to go to work or school, or run essential errands. That’s fine, as long as the person who was exposed can quarantine by themselves in a separate part of the house.

However, if the person exposed tests positive or develops COVID-19 symptoms, the rest of the household should quarantine. The two-week window should begin from the date of the last contact with the person who exposed you.

What should I do if someone in my house has COVID-19?

If you or someone in your household tests positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to take steps to protect your health and the health of other household members. The CDC offers these recommendations: 

  • Provide a separate bedroom and bathroom for the person who is sick. If that’s not possible, turn on a fan, use air conditioning or open a window to improve air flow.
  • Ensure other people in the household stay separated from the person who is ill. If they must be around the person who is ill, they should wear a mask.
  • Do not allow the person who is sick to prepare or serve food to others.
  • Be sure the person who is ill wears a mask around others; covers their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; discards any used tissues in a lined trashcan; and washes their hands often.

If someone has COVID-19, how long should they isolate?

According to the CDC, the person who has COVID-19 should self-isolate until 10 days after their symptoms started and when they are free of a fever for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication.

How long should other household members quarantine?

Anyone who has had close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last exposure to that person. 

It is safe to care for someone in my home who has COVID-19?

If someone in your house has COVID-19 or symptoms, you may provide support for the sick person to ensure their basic needs are met and to monitor their condition. Just be sure to take precautions:

  • Check on the individual regularly throughout the day. Speak through the closed door, or set up a video call if they are able. If you have to go inside the room, keep your distance, wear a mask and use gloves.
  • Have them take their temperature regularly.
  • Monitor for emergency signs, including difficulty breathing; chest pain or pressure; new confusion or inability to wake up or stay awake; or bluish lips or face.
  • Make sure the individual gets plenty of rest and drinks fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Provide over-the-counter medication to treat symptoms.
  • Make sure they wear a facial covering and stay six feet away when around others.
  • Call their health care provider if their condition worsens (unable to eat, drink or go to the bathroom).
  • If possible, have the person who is ill disinfect the bathroom and “sick room” surfaces. If you need to clean their bedroom or bathroom, wear disposable gloves and a mask.
  • Prohibit any visitors from outside the home.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after being around the ill person.

Important: If you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, you should not be a caregiver, if possible. 

When should I call 911 or go to the hospital?

You should seek immediate medical treatment if you or the sick person in your household has:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
  • New confusion or inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

What if my young child was exposed?

If you’re caring for a little one, it’s not easy to separate yourself from them if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Quarantining the entire household is always the safest option when possible.

According to the CDC, evidence shows that as many as 45% of pediatric infections are asymptomatic. In other words, even if your kiddo isn’t coughing or running a fever, they could still test positive and end up exposing you. If you’re exposed, it’s possible for you to spread the virus to others.

Is it safe to be around pets if someone in my household has COVID-19?

It appears the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. If possible, someone in the household who is not sick should care for animals. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a face mask when in close contact with them.

Flu and COVID symptoms are similar. If someone in the house is sick, how can I tell the difference?

The flu and COVID-19 can give you a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, body aches and a runny or stuffy nose. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 can cause a loss of taste of smell. The best way to know if you have the coronavirus is to get tested.

Our symptom chart can also help you decode cold, flu, COVID-19 and seasonal allergy symptoms.

Where can I or someone in my household go for COVID-19 testing?

All Indigo Health locations across Washington offer two types of COVID-19 tests:

  • Nasal swab to determine whether you have an active COVID-19 infection 
  • Antibody test (blood draw) to determine evidence of past COVID infection

To be eligible for a COVID-19 nasal swab test at one of our clinics, you must be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 within the past 5-14 days. These in-person visits are with a medical provider or nurse and also include a thorough exam.

Generally, you can expect to receive standard test results in less than 2 days in the Puget Sound region and 2-3 days in the Spokane/Inland Northwest region.

Rapid tests are currently offered at our  Bellevue,  Bonney Lake Bothell Burien,  Lacey,  Point Ruston,  Puyallup and  Spokane Valley Indigo clinics, with additional locations coming soon.

Rapid tests are only available to individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms and offered if we have testing supplies available. Check our  COVID-19 testing webpage for the most up-to-date information. 

Know before you go.

Learn more about  COVID-19 testing and schedule an appointment on our  Indigo Health website. Our virtual assistant, Indy, is available 24/7 to answer your questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and services provided at our convenient locations.

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