As of July 23, 2020, UMC has adjusted its COVID-19 testing policies to reflect the latest CDC guidance and ensure that patients at the highest risk maintain convenient access to testing. The updated protocols will help UMC reduce unnecessary repeat testing while prioritizing access for community members with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus.
Following a Positive Test
Repeat testing following an initial positive result has not shown to be an effective tool in determining when patients can safely discontinue isolation. UMC will follow CDC guidance by utilizing a time- and symptom-based strategy to determine when patients can discontinue isolation precautions. As a result of this guidance, UMC will no longer provide unnecessary follow-up tests after a positive result. If an employer requires a negative test prior to an employee returning to work, the employer should make arrangements to provide testing services for employees.
For most symptomatic patients, the CDC recommends the following strategy for discontinuing home isolation:
* At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and
* At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and
* Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
Asymptomatic patients may discontinue isolation 10 days after being tested, as long as they continue to have no symptoms. Please note that patients with weakened immune systems may need to remain in isolation for more than 10 days. Immunocompromised patients should speak with their health care providers before discontinuing home isolation.
Waiting Period Between Negative Tests
To further reduce the number of unnecessary COVID-19 tests in our community, a patient with negative test results must wait 10 days before receiving another COVID-19 test from UMC. If community members develop symptoms of COVID-19 during this waiting period, they should seek medical care at a physician's office to determine the need for repeat testing. All patients who believe they have been exposed to the virus must continue to isolate at home during this waiting period.
UMC has introduced a five-day waiting period for asymptomatic health care workers and first responders following negative test results, unless they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the waiting period.
Amid rising demand for COVID-19 testing, UMC asks community members to help the hospital prioritize the testing needs of symptomatic patients and those who have been exposed to confirmed positive patients. Whenever possible, UMC asks community members to please save the available public testing appointments for community members with symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus.
Exposure is defined as spending 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone with an active COVID-19 infection, regardless of whether the people involved wore face coverings during the encounter. Community members should schedule their testing appointments five to seven days after being exposed to the virus. Testing prior to this time period may result in false negative results.