The health department continues to prioritize contacting cases and contacts at highest risk, however due to record high numbers of cases over the past month has reached capacity. It is important that the public knows some contacts may not receive a phone call at this time.
Cases should personally notify anyone they have had close contact with about their positive test result and direct their contacts to quarantine and follow directions below. This notification should be shared with any person in contact with the positive case while they had symptoms AND during the 48 hours before symptoms developed. For cases without symptoms, they should notify anyone they had close contact with 2 days prior to their test date as well as during their infectious period.
What is Quarantine? Why Do I Need To?
Quaranting after being in close contact with someone with COVID-19 helps to prevent further spread of the virus. After exposure to the virus, it can take anywhere between 2-14 days to develop illness. Someone who is sick with COVID-19 can spread it two days before they show any symptoms.
Wisconsin DHS Fact Sheets on Quarantine (English) Next Steps: Close Contacts of Someone with COVID-19
What are the New Quarantine Guidelines?
In response to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health Services (DHS) has updated quarantine guidance for close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19. The updated guidance will go into effect for Wisconsinites on Monday, December 7.
Based on your last date of exposure, if you do not have symptoms, you have the following options for quarantine:
• Option 1 (Best Practice): The best practice recommendation is to fulfill a 14 day quarantine period. You may return to work/school/resume normal activities on day 15.
• Option 2: If you are unable to fulfill a 14 day quarantine period, quarantine for 10 days and monitor your symptoms for 14 days. Your may return to work/school/resume normal activities on (day 11).
• Option 3: Quarantine can end prior to 14 days with a negative FDA approved test (either PCR or Antigen test) taken on either day 6 or day 7. If you test negative, you may return to work/school/normal activities on day 8.
**Your must have you test results prior to resuming normal activities. You must continue to monitor your symptoms through 14 days. If you develop symptoms, you need to isolate and be retested.
Why is the 14-day Quarantine Periods Considered Best Practice?
With any infectious disease, there is an incubation period. An incubation period is the time between exposure and development of illness. With COVID-19, the incubation period is 2-14 days.
While there is less risk of becoming contagious on days 11-14, there is still some risk, which is why we consider 14–day quarantine periods to be best practice.
Not everyone with COVID-19 will have symptoms, but they may still spread it to others. People who have COVID-19 and do not have symptoms are referred to as asymptomatic.
What Do I Need to Do During Quarantine?
Stay at home as much as possible. Go out only if absolutely necessary. Instead, see if someone can drop off essentials at your house.
If you need to go out, limit your travel to essential needs, for example, going to the doctor, getting groceries, or picking up medication. *Ordering online/via phone and using curbside pickup are great options, if available to you*
Remember to always wear a cloth face covering.
Do not go to work if you have to be around other people.
Talk with your employer about working remotely if your employer allows it.
Health care workers, law enforcement, and correctional facility workers should contact their employer for the current health policy.
Do not use public transportation, ride sharing, or taxis
Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene
Postpone all non-essential medical appointments
Minimize contact with others in your home
Measure your temperature 2 times per day; once in a.m. and once in p.m.
Watch for cough or difficulty breathing
Respond to all Monroe County Health Department communication
If you develop symptoms or need medical care, contact your doctor to see if you need additional medical care
Notify Monroe County Health Department if you develop symptoms
If you need emergency medical attention, call 911 and let them know you are being monitored for COVID-19.
For more information about quarantine for close contacts, see the WI Department of Health Services’ Quarantine Fact Sheet
If I Get Tested and Test Negative, Can I Be Off of Quarantine?
As of December 7th, 2020 the Wisconsin Department of Health Services adopted the new quarantine guidelines from the CDC. With a negative test, an individual’s quarantine period can end early, if it meets the following criteria.
The individual must not have symptoms (be asymptomatic)
The individual must have a negative FDA approved test (either PCR or Antigen test) taken on either day 6 or day 7. If you test negative, you may return to work/school/normal activities on day 8.
**Your must have you test results prior to resuming normal activities.
You must continue to monitor your symptoms through 14 days. If you develop symptoms, you need to isolate and be retested.
With any infectious disease, there is something called an incubation period. An incubation period is the time between being exposed to a pathogen (virus, bacteria, etc.) and the time you can develop illness. For COVID-19, the incubation period is 2-14 days. If you test negative after a 7-day quarantine, you can still develop illness up to 14 days after exposure, though studies have shown the risk is smaller than previously thought. Since individuals with COVID-19 are contagious 2 days prior to symptom onset, you may be contagious and not have any symptoms.
Determining Close Contacts
What is Close Contact?
Had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
Were within 6 feet of the person for a total of more than 15 minutes in a single day (includes a single encounter or multiple encounters within a single day adding up to 15 minutes or more).
Had contact with the person’s respiratory secretions (for example, coughed or sneezed on; contact with a dirty tissue; shared a drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal items).
Live with the person or stayed overnight for at least one night in a house with the person.
Is It Still Considered Close Contact if We Were Wearing Masks?
Yes. Wearing a mask helps reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others by blocking respiratory droplets, but it may not prevent it entirely.
Wearing a face mask or covering while you spend time with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, even if the person with COVID-19 was also wearing a mask, likely reduces your risk of getting COVID-19, but may not prevent it entirely. If you and/or the person with COVID-19 was wearing a face mask or covering during any of the above situations, you are still considered a close contact.
I Am a Close Contact of a Positive Case and a Healthcare worker, law enforcement, or work in a correctional facility
If you are a healthcare worker, law enforcement, or work in a correctional facility, you may be subject to different recommendations. Contact your employee health or supervisor at your workplace for additional guidance.
I Need a Quarantine Letter from the Health Department
If you need a letter, fill out the quarantine letter request form.
I Live With Someone Who Has COVID-19
If the person with COVID-19 can 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:
If you develop symptoms, follow the guidance above.
Quarantine requirements: 14 days from when the person with COVID-19 began isolation (if you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here).
I started my 14 day quarantine, but then had additional close contact with a household member or someone else who has COVID-19
You will have to restart your quarantine from the last day you had close contact with anyone who has COVID-19. Any time a new household member gets sick with COVID-19 and you had close contact, you also need to restart your quarantine.
If you develop symptoms, follow the guidance above.
Quarantine requirements: Date of additional close contact with person who has COVID-19 + 14 days (if you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here).
I cannot avoid close contact with the person who has COVID-19
For some people, they may not be able to avoid close contact with those in their home who have COVID-19 (i.e. Providing direct care to the person who is sick, don’t have a separate bedroom to isolate the person who is sick, or live in close quarters where they are unable to keep a physical distance of 6 feet).
You should avoid contact with others outside the home while the person is sick, and quarantine for 14 days after the person who has COVID-19 meets criteria to end their isolation
If you develop symptoms, follow the guidance above.
Quarantine requirements: Date the person with COVID-19 ends home isolation + 14 days = end of quarantine
If you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here.
Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Contacts
I Had Close Contact with Someone who has COVID-19 and am sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, even if your symptoms are mild (for example, you think it might be allergies), isolate yourself.
You should be tested. Call your health care provider 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 (if you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here).
I Had Close Contact with Someone with COVID-19 but am not Sick
Click here for guidelines on what is considered close contact.
Monitor your health for fever, cough, any new symptoms, and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the sick person.
Stay home; do not go to work, school, or childcare. Avoid public places for 14 days (if you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here).
Unless you are a staff member at a health care system who has consulted employee health and been provided with other guidelines, you must quarantine at home for a period of 14 days from the date of last contact or exposure with the ill individual (if you are unable to fulfill a 14-day quarantine period, see new guidelines here).
Close Contacts and Testing
If I’m a Close Contact, Should I Get Tested?
If you have symptoms
If you were a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and have symptoms, get tested. Reach out to your doctor for testing or visit a community testing site
If you do not have symptoms
WI DHS and the CDC do recommend testing of close contacts; due to the fact that people without symptoms can still have and spread COVID-19 (referred to as asymptomatic spread) however, not all places have capacity to test contacts who do not have symptoms.
Wait 6-7 days after exposure. Reach out to your doctor if you wish to be tested or visit a community testing site that allows asymptomatic testing.
See here for new testing guidelines for contacts without symptoms (asymptomatic).
If you are asymptomatic and test positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days from your test date. Your close contacts will also need to quarantine.