Health Advisory: COVID-19 Updates for Providers

Published Sept. 2, 2020.

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On Aug. 26, Washington State Department of Health released a notification that COVID-19 testing is still advised for people with symptoms and close contacts of confirmed cases.

Test all patients with COVID-19 symptoms and their close contacts, even if they are asymptomatic.

Test all patients with new onset of COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of age or health status. We encourage broad testing.

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting 2 days before symptom onset (or, for asymptomatic people, 2 days prior to first positive test) until the end of their isolation period. Close contacts who test negative still need to remain in quarantine for 14 days after their last date of exposure.

If using RT-PCR tests, wait at least 5 days after exposure to test those without symptoms.

Recent research has shown that testing on day 8 after exposure to SARS-COV-2 can yield the lowest false negative rate (20%). It is critical to understand how predictive value changes depending on day of symptom onset and type of test used. People with symptoms should be tested within 24-48 hours of symptom onset. For those who are exposed and do not develop symptoms, wait at least 5 days after exposure to test.

Updated testing guidance for long-term care facilities.

CMS updated its interim guidance on facility testing requirements to reflect what events trigger testing and how routine testing should vary based on community COVID-19 activity. One new case is considered an outbreak. All staff and residents should be tested, and all staff and residents who test negative should be retested every 3-7 days until no new cases are identified for at least 14 days since the most recent positive case. Facilities should contact the Health Department when any person in their facility tests positive for COVID-19.

Additional resources


COVID-19 test processing

Labs need varying amounts of time to process COVID-19 tests. For faster turnaround, we encourage providers to use in-state labs. See current processing times for in-state private labs below.

Lab Time to process test Tests processed daily
Quest 24-48 hours 750-1,000
LabCorp 48 hours-4 days 200,000 nationally
Northwest Pathology 24-48 hours 7,000
FidaLab Monday-Thursday: 24 hours, Friday-Saturday: 72 hours 700-1,000
Kaiser 48 hours 800


Immediately report COVID-19

  • To report a notifiable condition, call (360) 414-5599 x 6431 during business hours, (360) 636-9595 after hours or use the Reportable Disease Fax Form.
  • Cases in the following people—call (360) 414-5599 x 6431
    • Healthcare workers (e.g., EMS, medical, nursing, any healthcare facility employee).
    • Public safety workers (e.g., law enforcement, firefighter).
    • Staff or resident of long-term care facilities, senior living centers, permanent supportive housing or similar congregate settings (e.g., shelter, correctional facility).
    • Anyone who dies with COVID-19.
    • Anyone with suspected MIS-C.

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