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COVID-19

If You Are Sick or Have Been Exposed
Please review the guidelines below and follow our Isolation and Quarantine Flowchart for exposures. 


Question: I have tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that you stay home and isolate to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. The health department is notified of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases electronically by laboratories as is required by State law, and we will be trying to reach you. In the interim, we provide this overview of what to do and encourage you to reach out to our team with questions if you need help before we reach you.

Step 1: Please fill out this form to help our team get important information as quickly as possible. 

Step 2: Isolate at home.

COVID-19 is spread from one person to another through body fluids like saliva that come out of your mouth and nose when breathing, talking, singing, coughing or sneezing. It is very easy to spread, which makes it important that you stay away from other people while you get better.

  • Do not leave you house, unless you need medical care. Do not go to work, school or daycare. Do not go into stores or restaurants. Do not use public transportation. 
  • Stay away from other members of your household as much as humanly possible.
  • Have food dropped of at your door if possible.
  • If you need to go into parts of your home that are shared spaces such as a bathroom or kitchen, wear a mask at all times, stay six feet away from others and wipe down all surfaces with a cleaning product after you use it. 
  • Clean all "high touch" surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, phones, and keyboards.

You must stay in isolation even if you start to feel better. It will be safe for you to end isolation when:

  • It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms began (or 10 days from when your test was conducted if you have not had symptoms), AND
  • You have had no fever for 24 hours without using medication that would reduce the fever, such as Tylenol or Advil, AND
  • Any other symptoms have been improved for 24 hours without using medication that would improve them

Step 3: Notify people who need to know.

  • Tell your employer, school, or child care center about your diagnosis.
  • Think about those who you may have been in "close contact" with, starting from two days before your symptoms started or two days before your positive test if you have had no symptoms.
  • Tell these people you have tested positive and that they have been exposed. All unvaccinated individuals should stay home for 14 days from your last contact. All fully vaccinated individuals should self-monitor, wear a mask when around others, and be tested 3 - 5 days after their last contact with you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable disclosing your positive status to others, you can anonymously tell your close contacts by visiting TellYourContacts.org to send a text or email to those who need to know.
  • Look at the following resource for more guidance on notifying your close contacts: WI DHS Next Steps

Step 4: Get help if you need it.

If you experience a worsening of symptoms and/or find it difficult to breathe, you should seek medical care. Call ahead to let the facility know that you are positive for COVID-19.

 

Question: I am positive for COVID-19 and my employer is requiring a letter in order for me to isolate. How do I get one?

Our department recommends against requiring employees to have a release letter to return to work, as this is an unnecessary burden during an emergency response for a communicable disease. You can generate your own letter to return to work here. Please call the healthcare provider who administered your test for confirmation of your test results. If you need further help with this type of issue, you can reach out to your investigator or to the general health department phone number and a member of our Disease Investigation team will call you back.


Question: Do I need a test to get out of isolation?

No, you don't need a negative test to stop isolating in most circumstances. You don't need to be tested again if you've recently had a positive test. Your test may be positive for many weeks after you recover even when you are no longer infectious.

See more info from DHS by clicking either photo below.

DHS Page 1 info DHS page 2 info


Question: I have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not yet been tested. What should I do?


There are many possible symptoms of COVID-19 including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, abnormal tiredness/fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, and digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These same symptoms can also be symptoms of other viruses. This is why we encourage everyone with symptoms to seek out testing.

  • If you have these symptoms, you should be tested. Call your health care provider to request testing, call a local pharmacy, or get tested at a community testing site. Stay home while you wait for your test results.
  • Until you get your results, act like you are positive. Follow the instructions at the top of a page for a COVID-19 case. Isolate at home. Do not go to work, school or daycare. Stay away from household members as much as humanly possible.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if symptoms worsen.

 

QuestionI had close contact with someone with COVID-19 but am not sick.

COVID-19 is a very contagious disease. For some people it is mild, but for others it can be very serious. The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days. Someone can spread disease starting two days before they develop symptoms. This is why quarantining at home away from others for a full 14 days is the best option to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A "close contact" is someone who: 

  • Was closer than 6 feet, for 15 minutes or more total, even with masks 

OR, regardless of how close you were or for how long, if you

  • Had direct exposure to coughs, sneezes, or other body fluids of someone with COVID-19
  • Had direct physical contact with the person (example: a hug, kiss, handshake)
  • Stayed overnight at a home where a person with COVID-19 was staying while infectious and was not isolating away from shared spaces

It is the goal of the La Crosse County Health Department to call all close contacts of positive cases. During times of high case activity, we may not be able to reach all close contacts. For this reason, we provide the following information for individuals who have been identified as a close contact:

  1. Please complete our close contact form

  2. Monitor your health for fever, cough, any new symptoms, and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the sick person.

  3. Stay home; do not go to work, school, or childcare. Submit a letter to your employer if necessary.

  4. A 14-day quarantine is the gold standard. However, there are two alternative strategies for discontinuation of quarantine:

    1) Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing IF no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14.

    2) Quarantine can end after Day 7 ONLY if the result of a COVID-19 test is negative AND if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14. A pending test result on Day 7 is not sufficient.

  5. Unless you are a staff member at a health care system who has consulted employee health and been provided with other guidelines, you must follow quarantine guidance.

  6. Click the photo below for our COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance Document.
    Quarantine Screenshot

Consider being tested for COVID-19 on or after day 6 following exposure, or at any point if you develop symptoms (even if you have recently tested negative). Some people have the virus but don’t have symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to test.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update: If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine you do not need to quarantine (unless you are an individual living in a group setting, such as correctional or detention facility or group home). You SHOULD monitor yourself for symptoms and wear a mask when in public. You should also be tested 3 - 5 days after exposure. More detailed information from the CDC can be found
here.


Question: I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and now have symptoms. What do I do?

If you are a close contact with symptoms of COVID-19, you should isolate at home away from others and seek out testing as soon as possible.

COVID-19 is a very contagious disease. For some people it is mild, but for others it can be very serious. The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days. Someone can spread disease starting two days before they develop symptoms. This is why quarantining at home away from others for a full 14 days is the best option to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It is the goal of the La Crosse County Health Department to call all close contacts of positive cases. During times of high case activity, we may not be able to reach all close contacts. For this reason, we provide the following information for individuals who have been identified as a close contact:

  1. Please complete our close contact form

  2. Monitor your health for fever, cough, any new symptoms, and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the sick person.

  3. Stay home; do not go to work, school, or childcare. Submit a letter to your employer if necessary.

  4. A 14-day quarantine is the gold standard. However, there are two alternative strategies for discontinuation of quarantine:

    1) Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing IF no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14.

    2) Quarantine can end after Day 7 ONLY if the result of a COVID-19 test is negative AND if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14. A pending test result on Day 7 is not sufficient.

  5. Unless you are a staff member at a health care system who has consulted employee health and been provided with other guidelines, you must follow quarantine guidance.

  6. Click the photo below for our COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance Document.
    Quarantine Screenshot

  • Please complete our close contact form as soon as possible.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, even if your symptoms are mild (for example, you think it might be allergies), isolate yourself. Submit a letter to your employe if necessary.
  • You should be tested. Call your health care nurse line (Gundersen 608-775-4454 or Mayo 507-293-9525) and tell them you have symptoms of COVID-19 and were exposed to someone who tested positive. If you can’t get tested by your health care provider or don’t have a health care provider, you should go to a community testing site when one is available.
  • Stay home while you are waiting for your test results. Even if you have a negative test, you still need to stay home for 14 days.

 

Question: I live with someone who has COVID-19. What does our household need to do?

If the person with COVID-19 can completely self-isolate (separate bedroom, food delivered to their room, separate bathroom or disinfected after use, can maintain 6 feet of space) and you can avoid additional contact with that person, read below:

  • Quarantine requirements: 14 days from when the person with COVID-19 began isolation. 14 days is the gold standard for quarantine. However, there are now (as of 12/7/20) two alternative strategies for discontinuation of quarantine:

1) Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing IF no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14.

2) Quarantine can end after Day 7 ONLY if the result of a COVID-19 test is negative AND if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Daily symptom monitoring must continue through Day 14. A pending test result on Day 7 is not sufficient.

  • If you develop symptoms, follow the guidance above.

 

If the person with COVID-19 CANNOT completely self-isolate, read below:

  • You should separate from your household members as much as you can.
  • Both the case and you as the close contact should wear a mask if possible.
  • If you cannot avoid close contact, your quarantine will be extended. The timeframe starts the day of your last exposure. If you cannot stay separate at all, the start will be the day that your household member is "out" of isolation. In this case, you must stay home the entire time that your household member is in isolation PLUS 14 days. (or use the alternative strategies for discontinuation of quarantine on Day 7 or Day 10 as described above if a full 14-day quarantine cannot be completed.)
  • If you develop symptoms, follow the guidance above.

See household quarantine guidance from the CDC here.


Question: Someone in my home is sick from COVID-19. Besides being in quarantine, how do I support my household member?

  • The sick person should be in their own room and should have their own bathroom, if possible. They should have the door closed, and food and other items they may need should be left outside their door for them to pick up.
  • All household members should try to stay away from the sick person as much as possible.
  • The CDC has additional guidance for how to clean and disinfect your home  if someone is sick, including how to clean surfaces, linens, dishes, and trash.
  • The CDC also has information about how to minimize risk if you live in a house with close quarters  (e.g., small apartment with more than one person or a house with multiple generations).


Question: I have already had COVID-19, but have had an additional COVID-19 exposure. Do I need to quarantine again?

  • This guidance is only for those who have had a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • If the new exposure to COVID-19 is within 90 days of first becoming sick and having a lab-confirmed positive test and:
    • You do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, you do not need to quarantine and re-testing is not recommended.
    • You have symptoms, isolate until you are well for at least 24 hours.  Contact your healthcare provider to be evaluated.   If it is determined that you have a different illness, isolate according to the recommendations for that illness.  If your healthcare provider cannot determine whether it is a different illness, follow their instructions for further evaluation. 
      • Note: If you live/work in a congregate or high risk setting, follow your facility's policy and rules on quarantine.
  • If the new exposures to COVID-19 is after 90 days of first becoming sick or having a lab-confirmed test, get re-tested and follow the instructions above for isolation (if positive) and quarantine (if negative).


Question: I’m a health care worker and in isolation/quarantine for COVID-19. Is guidance different for me?

  • If you work for Mayo Clinic or Gundersen Health System, you may be subject to different recommendations. Contact your employee health at your workplace for additional guidance.  Health care workers may follow CDC guidelines for critical workers if their employers tell them they should return to work.
  • If you are a healthcare worker for an organization other than Mayo or Gundersen, you should follow the guidelines provided by the health department above in other sections of this site.


QuestionMy business has an employee who tested positive or is a close contact of someone with COVID-19. What do I do?

Find frequently asked questions, how to disinfect areas, and a helpful grid to help you determine when an employee should be excluded from work: