New COVID-19 testing guidance and importance of early case identification, isolation and quarantine of contacts
May 31, 2020
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Healthcare providers should:
- Rapidly evaluate and test patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Ensure patients suspected to have and diagnosed with COVID-19 are given clear instructions regarding theneed to self-isolate immediately and counseled on how to do so safely.
- Ensure that COVID-19 patients understand the need to inform their household members and other closecontacts of the need to rapidly quarantine for 14 days and provide counseling on how to do that safely
- Provide written materials to support compliance with safe isolation and quarantine.
- Be aware that guidance for COVID-19 testing in Washington state has recently changed.
- Healthcare providers should test all patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 regardless of theirage or health status based on the clinical assessment.
- Testing is no longer recommended to be reservedfor more seriously ill patients only.
- Community (E.g., household, workplace) contacts of known COVID-19 cases should be tested even whenasymptomatic.
- Healthcare providers should consider having designated teams to counsel persons exposed to COVID-19cases and diagnosed with COVID-19 that are familiar with resources to support successful isolation andquarantine.
King County is planning to move forward along the phased continuum of reopening in accordance with Safe Start Washington. As our residents begin to increase their activities in the community, workplaces and businesses, we anticipate new opportunities for COVID-19 transmission with resulting illnesses. In order for us to be successful as a community and protect the healthcare system from excessive burden related to COVID-19, together we will need to identify cases as soon as possible after symptom onset and ensure prompt isolation along with quarantine of household and other close contacts. Although Public Health attempts to contact each case as quickly as possible after we receive a report and initiate contact tracing, there can be delays in reaching cases or their contacts that may result in missed opportunities to limit spread.
For this reason the role of front line healthcare providers is critical to our ability to limit the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to move forward with increasing levels of activity that we all desire and that are critical for our region's economic, physical and mental health. Healthcare providers should take every opportunity to review the following symptoms:
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Because these symptoms are nonspecific, the decision to test for COVID-19 should be based on the clinical assessment and exposure history.
COVID-19 Resources for healthcare providers and patients from WA Department of Health:
- Interim COVID-19 Testing Guidance for Healthcare Providers
- What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- What to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) but have not been around anyone who - has been diagnosed with COVID-19