IMPORTANT COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE. VIEW MORE INFORMATION

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FAQs for Positive Cases and Close Contacts

  • I tested positive: Why haven’t I received a call from Public Health yet?
  • I tested positive: How do I know who my close contacts are?
  • I tested positive: When is my home isolation over?
  • I tested positive: Should I get tested again?
  • I tested positive: How can I get documentation for work?
  • Close Contact: I was told I had an exposure. How do I know if I am a close contact or not?
  • Close Contact: Should I get tested?
  • Close Contact: I am quarantined but received a negative result. Do I have to finish my quarantine?
  • Close Contact: If I am on quarantine, does the rest of my family have to stay home?
  • Close Contact: How do I get documentation of my quarantine for work?

Whether you were notified by an app, a testing site, the National Guard or your doctor’s office that you tested positive for COVID-19, you should receive a call from a Public Health employee. Due to the number of positive cases exceeding the number of individuals the Health Department can contact in a day, there could be delays in when the Health Department can contact you.

What you should do while waiting for a call from Public Health:

1. Stay Home and isolate yourself away from others that may live in the home with you

2. Read the next steps guidance published by WI DHS

3. Notify your close contacts of the exposure

4. Notify your work and determine together close contacts at your place of employment

5. Prepare answers to questions Public Health will be asking:

    • What day did your symptoms start?
    • What places/activities did you go to prior to symptoms starting?
    • What places/activities did you go to after symptoms started?
    • Do you have any medical conditions?

First, you need to determine the time period during which you could have exposed others.

   -If you have symptoms, you were able to spread COVID-19 starting two days before
    your first symptoms started

   -If you have not had any symptoms, you were able to spread COVID-19 starting two
   days before your positive COVID-19 test was taken

You should notify anyone with whom you had close contact while able to spread COVID-19. Close contact is defined as any of the following interactions:

1. Having direct physical contact with someone (e.g. hug, kiss, handshake)

2. Being within 6 feet of someone for 15 cumulative minutes in a day

3. Having contact with your respiratory secretions (e.g. coughed/sneezed on, contract with dirty tissue, sharing drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal times)

4. Living with or spent the night with someone

Quarantine should last 14 days since last exposure. Day one starts, the day after the exposure happened and day 14 is the last quarantine date that should be completed in its entirety with contacts being able to return back into the community on day 15.   

Positive cases should be isolated at home for a minimum of ten days. Additionally, if a positive case had symptoms, they need to have at least a 24 hour period of being fever free without using medicine that reduces fevers AND other symptoms must be improved for at least 24 hours.

WI DHS does not recommend additional testing for at least 3 months from when your first symptoms developed. If you have new onset of symptoms before 3 months or are immunocompromised, talk to your doctor about additional testing.

If your work needs documentation that you are cleared to return, our department can email you a statement with your isolation and return to work dates. Ask the nurse you are working with for this documentation ahead of time, as requests may not be fulfilled same day. Don’t wait until the day you need the documentation.

If you are unsure if you are a close contact, here is the information you will need to help determine your exposure.

First, you need to determine the time period during which you could have been exposed by the individual.

    -If they had symptoms, they were able to spread COVID-19 starting two days
     before their first symptoms started

   -If they had no symptoms, they were able to spread COVID-19 starting two days
    before their positive COVID-19 test was taken

If you feel you were with the positive case while they were able to spread COVID-19, now you need to determine if you meet close contact definition.

Close contact is defined as any of the following interactions:

1. Having direct physical contact with someone (e.g. hug, kiss, handshake)

2. Being within 6 feet of someone for 15 cumulative minutes in a day

3. Having contact with your respiratory secretions (e.g. coughed/sneezed on, contract with dirty tissue, sharing drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal times)

4. Living with or spent the night with someone

If you did have close contact during the time the positive case was able to spread COVID-19, you should quarantine for 14 days since last exposure regardless if you have symptoms or not. Day one starts, the day after the exposure happened and day 14 is the last day that should be completed in its entirety with contacts being able to return back into the community on day 15.   

For more information on Close Contacts, read this next steps document created by WI DHS

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the CDC recommends that anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 be tested, whether or not they have symptoms.

Find a community testing site at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm.

Keep in mind that some community testing sites have restrictions such as age limits, symptom requirements, etc. so please call ahead to be sure you are eligible for free testing. Remember you still have to finish quarantine, even if you test negative. A good time frame for asymptomatic contacts to get tested is 7 to 10 days after exposure. WI DHS does not recommend getting tested earlier than 5 days post exposure.

Yes. A negative test does not release someone from quarantine early. Tests are a snapshot in time and someone who is exposed could develop the virus anywhere from 2 days all the way up to 14 days after exposure. Individuals who test negative can still develop the virus later on. This is why the Health Department recommends contacts with no symptoms wait until 7-10 days after exposure to get tested. Testing too soon can, often results in a negative test causing a false sense of security. Read this infographic for more information on negative test results.

Only the individuals that had close contact exposure to the positive case during the time the case could spread COVID-19 is on quarantine. If others in the household did not have that same exposure, they are not on quarantine and may continue about their normal routine. However, the quarantined individual should try to distance themselves from others in the house to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. If the quarantined individual starts to experience symptoms, they should be tested and as a precaution the remaining household members should stay home until they know if it is COVID-19 or not. That is the same recommendation for all sick individuals living with other people, regardless of exposure.

If you or someone you take care of is a close contact to a positive case and need documentation there are a couple ways you can obtain it.

1. If you were sent a letter and/or email from a daycare provider, school, sports
        organizations, etc. present that letter to your employer as proof of quarantine

2. If you were put on quarantine by your employer, then no documentation will be
        provided as they should already know your return date.

3. If none of the above situations apply, you may call the Health Department*. We
        will verify with you that you meet close contact definition during the time the
        positive case was able to spread COVID-19 (see how do I know if I am a close
        contact). You must know the name of the positive case and the last date of
        exposure. Find out if you need documentation ahead of time, as requests may not
        be fulfilled same day. Don’t wait until the day you need the documentation.

*There are situations in which we cannot provide documentation.

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