COVID-19 Case Response

Updated May 10, 2023

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 aligns with 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 Flowchart for information on when to report COVID-19 illness, when to get tested, 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

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

Case follow-up

When the University is notified that a UW student, staff, faculty or other academic personnel tests positive for COVID-19, we take steps to prevent further transmission.

We respond to COVID-19 positive individuals within 24-72 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
  • Test date
  • UW locations where the individual spent at least 10 minutes while potentially infectious, up to 48 hours before symptoms began
  • 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
  • Assessment of the need for additional cleaning and disinfection in accordance with the UW Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol for COVID-19

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

  • Instructions for self-isolation and precautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • A follow-up survey before the end of the isolation period to check on symptoms

Students living in University residence halls who test positive may have additional requirements and receive assistance as needed to facilitate self-isolation and logistical support from their campus housing provider.

If requested or deemed necessary, EH&S will follow up with COVID-19 positive individuals during their self-isolation period to assess symptoms and provide additional guidance.

Read the CDC guidance Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19 for more information if you test 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.

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.

Close contacts receive public health recommendations that include watching for symptoms of COVID-19 and getting tested.

Read the University's Isolation Guidance and the COVID-19 Public Health Flowchart for more information on when to report COVID-19 illness, when to get tested, and when to stay home.

Notifications and privacy

An area 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.