COVID-19 Employee Screening: What You Need to Know

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For Employees with Acute Respiratory Infections

I’m sick with an acute respiratory infection. What should I do?

You should remain at home. You cannot work while ill with a respiratory illness.

If you need medical care, you should contact your primary physician. If urgent care is needed, please call the urgent care clinic or emergency department before coming in.

Call your manager to let them know.

Can I get tested for COVID-19?

Employees who call out sick with an acute respiratory infection, including the following symptoms, may sign up for testing:

  • Fever OR
  • New cough OR
  • New shortness of breath

If you would like to be tested, fill out this survey.

The survey will ask for your employee identification number (EIN), birthdate, or Social Security Number for identification. Your EIN is on the back of your ID badge or you can find it in WorkDay.

After you complete the survey, Employee Health will contact you to schedule an appointment on the UW Medical Center – Northwest campus; they will tell you where to go and when to arrive.

The clinic will test you for influenza/RSV and COVID-19.

Please note that all testing is done by appointment only; no walk-ins will be accepted.

Is testing for COVID-19 mandatory? 


Is testing confidential?

We only inform your manager of a positive test if you worked while you were ill. We do this in order to contact exposed co-workers who may need to be tested.

I tested negative for COVID-19. When can I return to work? 

You may return to work when you are asymptomatic for 24 hours. This applies even if you tested positive for influenza or RSV.

I tested positive for COVID-19. When can I return to work?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should remain under home isolation precautions for a minimum of 7 days from symptom onset. If your fever or symptoms persist beyond 7 days, you must be symptom-free for an additional 72 hours before you can return to work.

I recently had a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, but I did NOT get tested for COVID-19. When can I return to work?

If you met criteria for testing but did not get tested, you should remain under home isolation precautions until you are symptom-free for 72 hours.

What should I do if I have respiratory symptoms but I don’t have fever, new cough, or shortness of breath?

You do not meet criteria for COVID-19 testing at this time through Employee Health. You may be able to obtain testing elsewhere.

You should remain at home while you are ill and may return to work when you are symptom-free for 72 hours.

Am I safe when I go into a room with a patient who is in Special Droplet/Contact precautions for COVID-19?

Yes. You are safe when you use the appropriate precautions.

As we gained experience and learned more about this infection, we recognized that using Airborne/Respirator/Contact precautions, which include an N95 mask or PAPR unit, in all clinical situations is not necessary and may actually increase risk as healthcare workers use unfamiliar equipment.

For a full summary of UW Medicine PPE recommendations and rationale, please refer to our UW Medicine COVID-19 Website.

Can exposed staff without any symptoms of acute respiratory infection work?

Although people without symptoms of respiratory infection may have detectable virus before noticing any symptoms, based on available data, we believe that transmission from asymptomatic healthcare workers is unlikely. Transmission relies on large droplets (e.g., secretions, cough, sneezing). Staff members who have any symptoms of respiratory infection are required to go home immediately.

Are asymptomatic exposed staff supposed to wear a mask while at home or work?

UW Medicine does not recommend or support asymptomatic healthcare workers using masks. Strict adherence to standard precautions for all patients remains essential and masks should be conserved for the care of patients under precautions who require their use.

Can asymptomatic exposed staff continue to spend time with their family?

We recommend that exposed employees continue to monitor symptoms closely while they spend time with their family, friends and co-workers. They should self-isolate if they develop any symptoms of acute respiratory infection.