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COVID-19: Testing & Tracing


What is the difference between “isolation” and “quarantine”?   (updated 8/29/20)

Isolation is the term used for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who must stay home and avoid seeing any other people. Individuals who test positive are to isolate for 10 days, beginning on the first day of symptoms or the date of the positive test result. They are not to leave their home or return to campus until they are symptom-free and the 10 days have passed.

Quarantine is the term used for individuals who are identified as a close contact to a positive case, and that person must stay home and avoid seeing any other people. These individuals have not tested positive for COVID-19 but must quarantine for 14 days, beginning with the most recent date of exposure. Quarantine can last 14 to 24 days, depending on the situation. If an individual develops symptoms during this 14-day period or tests positive, their “quarantine” time ends and their 10-day “isolation” period begins. If, during quarantine, you receive a negative COVID-19 test, the quarantine time is not reduced.

Examples:

  • If an individual develops symptoms during this 14-day period and/or tests positive for COVID-19, their quarantine time ends and their 10-day isolation period begins. So it is possible that an individual can develop symptoms and test positive on day 14 of their quarantine and must then isolate for an additional 10 days.
  • If an individual is a household contact to a positive case and cannot keep distance from that person, the individual must quarantine throughout the duration of the positive case’s isolation period (10 days) and an additional 14 days, assuming the last contact was made on day 10.

What is a close contact?  (updated 8/29/20)

A close contact is considered to be any individual who had a prolonged (at least 15 minutes) close contact (within 6 feet), or had physical contact (of any duration) with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. A person may be considered a close contact regardless of whether either individual was wearing face coverings.

A common misconception is that you should quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who is a close contact; that is not accurate. If you live with someone who is a contact, but they do not have a positive test or symptoms, you do not need to quarantine.

If a student tests positive in my class, who will be asked to quarantine?  (updated 8/29/20)

Northwest will work with the Nodaway County Health Department to identify contacts of the individual who tests positive. Whether an individual is identified as a contact depends on the amount of time spent within a 6-foot radius of the positive individual, so it’s possible an entire class will not need to be quarantined.

Be definition, a close contact is considered to be any individual who had a prolonged (at least 15 minutes) close contact (within 6 feet), or had physical contact (of any duration) with an individual who tested positive; a person may be considered a close contact regardless of whether either individual was wearing face coverings. A common misconception is that you should quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who is a close contact; that is not accurate. If you are in a classroom with someone identified as a contact, but they do not have a positive test or symptoms, you do not need to quarantine.

To assist Northwest conduct accurate contact tracing, all faculty are requested to maintain seating charts for their classes.

What is contact tracing?  (updated 8/29/20)

Contact tracing is the process of identifying all close contacts of a COVID-19 patient and placing close contacts into quarantine. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or who are identified as a close contact will receive instructions from a health care official about the steps they need to take to prevent further spread of the virus.

Northwest or the Nodaway County Health Department begin their case investigation upon learning an individual has tested positive for COVID-19. It is the process of interviewing the patient to determine their symptoms and symptom onset, possible locations where exposure occurred and their close contacts.

A close contact is considered to be any individual who had a prolonged (at least 15 minutes) close contact (within 6 feet), or had physical contact (of any duration) with an individual who tested positive; a person may be considered a close contact regardless of whether either individual was wearing face coverings. A common misconception is that you should quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who is a close contact; that is not accurate. If you live with someone who is a contact, but they do not have a positive test or symptoms, you do not need to quarantine.

To assist with accurate contact tracing, Northwest has requested all faculty to maintain seating charts for their classes.

What if I have symptoms of COVID-19?   (updated 8/28/20)

Individuals who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, should immediately isolate from others.

  • Students can contact Wellness Services at 660.562.1348.
  • Students and employees can contact Mosaic Medical Center-Maryville’s COVID-19 nurse call line at 660.562.5357 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday and Sunday. 
  • Do not go to either health care facility unless you are instructed to do so. Mosaic Medical Center recommends going to the emergency room only if you are experiencing labored breathing, confusion, seizures, persistent chest pain or pressure, an inability to talk or be roused, or high fevers not relieved by over-the-counter medications. If any of these happen, promptly call 911, alert them to your symptoms and that you suspect you have COVID-19. If you decide to go to the emergency room on your own, call ahead and notify them that you think you have COVID-19.

What is Northwest’s capability for testing individuals for COVID-19?  (updated 8/21/20)

While Northwest does have limited testing capability for students, the University is following the guidance of the CDC, the American College Health Association, and the World Health Organization, which do not recommend testing for asymptomatic individuals.

Northwest has adopted a “box-in” strategy, which focuses on testing symptomatic individuals and others who are identified as contacts of those individuals.

Students may choose to obtain a test in their home communities. Northwest employees who desire a test, should contact Mosaic Medical Center by calling its COVID-19 nurse call line at 660.562.5357.

Does a student who tested positive for COVID-19 have to test negative before returning to a classroom?  (updated 8/21/20)

A student’s ability to return to a classroom will be managed by the Nodaway County Health Department, or another health agency, in alignment with CDC guidelines.

In general, an individual must be fever-free and show an improvement of respiratory symptoms, including cough and shortness of breath. An individual may return to normal activities no less than 10 days after the first symptoms appeared.

How do I know when someone has become a contact to a positive case and must quarantine?  (updated 8/19/20)

To be considered a contact, the following criteria must be met:

  • The individual was within 6 feet of a positive case for 15 minutes or more, with or without a mask, or;
  • The individual made physical contact with a positive case, or;
  • The individual lives in the same room or house as a positive case.

Where can I be tested for COVID-19?  (updated 7/2/20)

The following links provide information about testing sites in the four-state region. If you reside outside the four-state region, check with your local or state health departments for testing information.