COVID-19 Case Response

Updated January 18, 2022

The COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team in the UW Environmental Health & Safety Department (EH&S), in coordination with local and state public health agencies, responds to cases of COVID-19 in the UW community and acts to prevent further transmission.

The public health response activities include a risk assessment, guidance for self-isolation, notifications, and contact tracing.

The University’s response protocol described below follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington State Department of Health, and local public health guidance for community-related exposure.

View the COVID-19 Public Health Requirements and Guidance Flowchart for information on when to report COVID-19 illness and close contact exposure, when to get tested for COVID-19, and when to stay home.

UW Medicine responds to COVID-19 cases involving personnel at the University medical centers.

Reporting requirements

University personnel, students and units are required to report a COVID-19 positive test result to the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Teamregardless of vaccination status. This includes all personnel and students who test positive for COVID-19, and those whose healthcare provider has suspected COVID-19 infection (whether or not they are experiencing symptoms).

The University’s COVID-19 Case Tracking Dashboard page shows reported cases of University personnel and students. The identity and personal information of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 is protected and not released to the public.

Case follow-up

When the University is notified of UW personnel or a student with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, the following steps are taken. 

We respond to COVID-19 positive individuals within 24 hours of notification to EH&S. We gather information from the COVID-19 positive individual to help us understand the period of transmission and who may have been at risk for exposure. The information gathered may include, but is not limited to:

  • Health status and date of onset of symptoms (or, if asymptomatic, test date)
  • Test date
  • UW locations where the individual spent at least 10 minutes while potentially infectious, up to 48 hours before symptoms began (or, if asymptomatic, during the 48 hours before date of test and any time after being tested); locations are assessed for the need for additional cleaning and disinfection in accordance with the UW COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol.
  • Activities conducted while infectious
  • Face coverings and personal protective equipment worn
  • Names of UW close contacts and others who may have been around the individual while infected

The COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team provides the individual with:

COVID-19 positive individuals stay home and away from other people:

  • For at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • For at least 24 hours with no fever, without fever-reducing medication and
  • Until their symptoms have improved

Students living in University residence halls who test positive receive have additional requirements and receive assistance to facilitate self-isolation from the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team and logistical support from their campus housing provider.

A COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team member follows up with COVID-19 positive individuals during the self-isolation period to assess symptoms and provide additional public health guidance.

Visit the CDC COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolations webpage for more information about what you can expect to happen if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

University units are asked to refrain from requesting or requiring a doctor’s note, a negative test result or positive antibody test following COVID-19 infection per state and local public health guidelines.

What's the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Contact tracing

The COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team notifies UW community members who may have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual while they were infectious.

When following up with close contacts, we may indicate when and where the contact may have occurred; however, we will not disclose the identity of the COVID-19 positive individual.


CDC Contact Tracing Steps Infographic

Close contacts receive public health recommendations that include:

We follow up during the quarantine period to assess symptoms and provide additional public health guidance as needed. Read the University's Quarantine and Isolation Guidance and the COVID-19 Public Health Requirements and Guidance Flowchart for more information on when to report COVID-19 illness and close contact exposure, when to get tested for COVID-19, and when to stay home.

View the CDC Contact Tracing Steps infographic for more information about what you can expect if you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

Notifications and privacy

workplace or classroom notification is sent if the COVID-19 positive individual spent at least 10 minutes at a University location starting from 48 hours before symptoms began (or 48 hours before their test date, if asymptomatic) through the period of time they were able to transmit the virus to other people.

Individuals and groups who receive notification of potential exposure to COVID-19 are provided with information about the actions taken by the University to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and recommendations for steps for individuals to take as a precaution.

The identity of individuals who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and their close contacts is protected and is disclosed only on a need-to-know basis to those involved in the public health response, which may include UW Human Resources representatives, the instructor, supervisor, and department or unit leadership.