Isolation, Quarantine & Tracing

Isolation & Quarantine

Updated: January 26, 2022

Isolation is used for people who are currently ill, able to spread the disease, and need to stay away from others in order to avoid infecting them. Regardless of vaccination status, if you test positive for COVID-19:

  • Isolate from other people for five days. If you have a fever, stay home until your fever goes away.
  • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for five additional days.

Quarantine is for people who are not currently showing symptoms but are at increased risk because they have been exposed to COVID-19. Quarantine is for people who could become sick or may be carrying the virus and could spread the infection to others.

*Note: these recommendations are for the general population. WA Department of Health recommends that anyone in congregate settings (schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and transitional housing, temporary worker housing) continue to follow a 10-day isolation period after testing positive before entering public spaces.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and:
you are not fully vaccinated or  have not received a booster:
  • Stay home for five days.
  • Take a COVID-19 test on Day 5, if possible. (Here is information on where to get tested)
  • If you test negative on day five, you can leave your home but continue to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for five additional days.
  • If you can’t quarantine, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days.
 
you are fully vaccinated and  received a booster:

This includes anyone who has received their booster shot or received the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine fewer than six months ago or a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine fewer than 2 months ago; and children less than 16 years old who are fully vaccinated.

  • You do not need to quarantine.
  • Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days after the exposure
  • Take a COVID-19 test on Day 5, if possible.
 
Everyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should get a COVID-19 test five days after exposure.

If you have symptoms, immediately quarantine until you take a COVID-19 test and it is negative.

Okanogan County Health Officer and Family Physician Dr. Jim Wallace explains the CDC’s guidance on isolation and quarantine times.

What if I can’t safely isolate or quarantine at home or don’t have a home?

An isolation and quarantine site is available for residents who are not able to isolate and quarantine in their own homes. Examples of people who may need this assistance include those who cannot safely isolate in their home away from family members or those who are experiencing homelessness.

Individuals can only be placed into the isolation and quarantine site if Okanogan County Public Health has determined that isolation or quarantine is necessary.

If you need a safe place to isolate or quarantine, contact Okanogan County Public Health at 509-422-7140

Contact Tracing

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires all of us to work together. Contact tracing is a way to identify people who may have COVID-19 so they can avoid spreading it to others. Contact tracing and self-isolating/quarantining of people who have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 is critical to help slow transmission of COVID-19 in our communities.

History of Contact Tracing

Public Health’s contact tracing activities have prevented the spread of diseases for decades. As an example, we were successful in eliminating smallpox because of exhaustive contact tracing to find and isolate all infected persons, and immunization among the surrounding community. Diseases for which contact tracing is commonly performed include tuberculosis, vaccine-preventable infections like measles, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), blood-borne infections, ebola, some serious bacterial infections, and novel infections (e.g. SARS-CoV, H1N1, and COVID-19).

What does the interview process look like?

When public health learns that someone has tested positive for COVID-19, an interviewer reaches out to talk to that person by phone – this is known as a case investigation. When talking to the person who tested positive for COVID-19, interviewers work to determine their close contacts, which includes anyone who has been within 6 feet of them for 15 minutes or more while they were infectious. This is based on social distancing guidelines from the CDC. Interviewers will also advise the person to alert their close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to answer the phone when Public Health calls. Interviewers then reach out to inform close contacts of possible exposure. This is the next step to prevent the spread of disease, known as contact tracing. Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with, unless you give permission. Public health does not use your phone’s location or any other electronic devices to track where you have been.

What will interviewers ask?

Interviewers use pre-approved questions for case investigations and contact tracing. They ask every person for their date of birth, address, race, and ethnicity, and other questions. Interviewers will never ask for or write down immigration status, Social Security number, financial information, or marital status. Information collected during interviews is used only by public health agencies. The information is protected in secure systems and individual information is not shared with anyone else. Interviewers operate under strict confidentiality rules. Every person interviewed receives guidance about how to keep themselves and others safe. Interviewers can also help connect people with resources they may need while they stay home for 14 days to ensure they are not sick (quarantine), or stay home to recover from being sick (isolation).

Why are these interviews important?

If a contact tracer reaches out to you, our county needs you to say respond! Your participation will help to keep others from getting infected and control the spread of the virus. It is important to answer calls you receive from public health. Your participation in contact tracing helps us:
  • Understand communities affected by COVID-19. Inform public health actions.
  • Understand who is at risk.
  • Follow up with high-risk groups.
  • Track COVID-19 activity in Okanogan County.
  • Determine when it is safe to return to public life.
More information on case investigation and contact tracing is available in the Washington State Department of Health Frequently Asked Questions.
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