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  • COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

    Our FAQ answers your most-asked questions about COVID-19.

    Click on a question to learn more.

    Schools and Childcare FAQs

    K-12 students who test positive should isolate at home regardless of vaccination status. Childcare providers are required to send sick people home. Staff are required to isolate if COVID positive. Read Washington State Department of Health’s Guidance to Prevent and Respond to COVID-19 in K-12 Schools and Child Cares for isolation recommendations in schools and child care facilities. 

    Childcare providers are required to send home or isolate children with illness. This includes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms listed in WAC 110-300-0205

    Washington State Legislature has required this since before the COVID-19 pandemic

    Kids at daycare can easily spread common illnesses, such as: 

    • Common cold. 
    • Stomach bug. 
    • Hand, foot and mouth disease. 
    • COVID-19. 

    Business and Government FAQs

    If you had no symptoms, return after day 5.  

    If you had symptoms and are improving: 

    • You may end isolation after day 5 if you have not had a fever for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications.

    If your symptoms are NOT improving:

    • Continue to isolate until 24 hours after your fever is gone without fever-reducing medication. Mild cough and fatigue may linger after recovery. 

    If you had symptoms and had:

    • Moderate illness (having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), you need to isolate through day 10.
    • Severe illness (you were hospitalized) or have a weakened immune system.
      • You need to isolate through day 10.
      • Consult your doctor before ending isolation.
      • Ending isolation with out a viral test may not be an option for you. 

    If you take a test on day 5 and continue to test positive, stay away from others another 5 days. Staff working for schools or childcare facilities should follow the isolation guidance listed on Washington State Department of Health’s website

    Wear a well-fitted mask around others for an additional 5 days. Call your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms worsen. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Tell the dispatcher you have or may have COVID-19. Wear a face covering before emergency medical services arrive.

    Exposure, Symptoms & Treatment

    No, young people also experience severe outcomes, though less often than older people.

    If you had no symptoms, return after day 5.  

    If you had symptoms and are improving: 

    • You may end isolation after day 5 if you have not had a fever for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications.

    If your symptoms are NOT improving:

    • Continue to isolate until 24 hours after your fever is gone without fever-reducing medication. Mild cough and fatigue may linger after recovery. 

    If you had symptoms and had:

    • Moderate illness (having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), you need to isolate through day 10.
    • Severe illness (you were hospitalized) or have a weakened immune system.
      • You need to isolate through day 10.
      • Consult your doctor before ending isolation.
      • Ending isolation with out a viral test may not be an option for you. 

    If you take a test on day 5 and continue to test positive, stay away from others another 5 days. Staff working for schools or childcare facilities should follow the isolation guidance listed on Washington State Department of Health’s website

    Wear a well-fitted mask around others for an additional 5 days. Call your healthcare provider immediately if symptoms worsen. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Tell the dispatcher you have or may have COVID-19. Wear a face covering before emergency medical services arrive.

    Isolate and get tested. Talk to your healthcare provider right away to determine if you are a good candidate for antiviral treatment, even if your symptoms are mild right now.

    If you suspect you have COVID-19, follow these steps to prevent the spread of disease: 

    Stay home except to get medical care.

    People who have mild cases of COVID-19 can isolate at home. Don’t leave unless you need medical care. Don’t go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.

    Separate yourself from other people in your home.

    Stay in a specific room and away from other people and animals in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

    Monitor your symptoms.

    Seek prompt medical attention if your illness gets worse. Symptoms can include:

    • Cough.
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
    • Fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell.

    Call ahead before you visit your doctor or an emergency room.

    If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider take steps to prevent exposure to other people. View our infographic

    People with COVID-19 reported a range of symptoms that can appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.

    Treatments may help reduce how sick you become if you get COVID-19.  

    You may be eligible for treatment If you: 

    • Have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (non-hospitalized and don’t require oxygen).
    • Tested positive for COVID-19 and you are likely to be at high risk to have severe disease. 

    Oral antivirals or IV (intravenous) antiviral treatments are available. Talk with your medical provider right away to see if you are a candidate for this treatment, even if your symptoms are mild. 

    Learn more about COVID-19 therapies Treatment Options for COVID19

    Treatment must be started within days of when you first develop symptoms to be effective. 

    If you can’t get access to treatment, a test to treat program is available. If you can’t physically see a medical provider, free telehealth is another option. 

    General Questions

    Variants are mutated versions of the virus. Mutations are common among most viruses. Some variants disappear and some persist. Some are more concerning than others. Learn more about variants.

    We receive regularly updated reports from the state on the variants that are circulating in Washington. This helps us to predict future case spikes and to determine which treatments are likely to be effective against COVID-19.

    Masks

    While no longer required, face masks help prevent the spread of disease. Many in our community will choose to continue to wear masks to protect the health of themselves and those around them. We encourage everyone to respect the decisions of those around you, and to follow the best public health practices for you and your family.

    Testing

    Test when you feel sick. COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms. If you are not feeling well, get tested as soon as possible. 

    Find a COVID-19 test site near you and learn more about COVID-19 testing and at Washington State Department of Health

    Vaccine

    COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines must pass some of the toughest safety measures in medicine. The process to approve and monitor vaccines has been around for decades. It’s the same process used to develop vaccines for measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and seasonal flu viruses.  

    The process to bring a safe and effective vaccine to you begins with clinical trials. Trials are ongoing for COVID-19 vaccines. Throughout vaccine development and distribution, numerous safety measures are in place.  

    COVID-19 vaccines are safe for kids. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 15 million children in the United States have gotten COVID-19 vaccine.  

    While COVID-19 is often milder in children than adults, children can still get very sick and spread it to friends and family who are immunocompromised or vulnerable in other ways. 

    Pregnant people may be at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Pregnant people and their families should take steps to stay healthy and reduce their risk for getting COVID-19. Learn more here: Pregnancy, Birth, and Caring for your Newborn.