Q: How do you define a wave in a pandemic? Are we in the first wave, or the second, of this one?
A: A second wave can be defined as a recurrence after a period of widespread decline. Until we see a period of widespread decline in Wisconsin, we are still considered to be in the first wave.
Q: My friend had a negative COVID-19 test and her doctor said she can go back to work, but public health is telling me I cannot go back to work and have to stay quarantined. Why can some people go back to work and others have to stay quarantined?
A: The most likely scenario is that your friend was tested because they had symptoms similar to COVID-19, but had no known exposure to COVID-19. Since that test was negative, they can return to work the same as with any other viral illness. A negative COVID-19 test is a snapshot in time. It means that at the time the sample was taken that person did not have an active infection. The test measures "infection, not exposure." Because you mentioned quarantine for yourself, that likely means that you were exposed to COVID-19 and were contacted by public health. People who have been exposed to COVID-19, have a COVID-19 test and receive a negative result do not end their quarantine early. We know that the incubation period for COVID-19 is 2-14 days. That means after an exposure it can take between 2 and 14 days for you to show symptoms.
Let's look at an example:
You are exposed on July 4, and are notified of the exposure on July 7, then placed in quarantine through July 18 , have no symptoms but are tested on July 8th, there are still an additional 10 days that you could develop illness. A negative test on July 8 would not predict your status on any of the following days in quarantine.
Q: If the test won't let me out of quarantine early, then why do we even do it?
A: We know that people can be "asymptomatic spreaders" (meaning they have no symptoms, but can still infect others) so following these people and isolating them until they are not infectious is one of the ways we can reduce spread of COVID-19.
For more info:
Q: What is the guidance about ways to lower the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 when using a public restroom?
A: COVID-19 mainly spreads through people being close to one another. Public restrooms raise concerns because a lot of people are together in what are oftentimes small, enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. Bathrooms are also high traffic areas—meaning a lot of different people pass through—with a lot of high-touch surfaces where the virus might live, such as doorknobs, toilet handles and seats, faucets, and paper towel dispensers. Additionally, it is possible that air hand dryers can spread germs to contaminate surfaces.
It is important whenever you’re in public to remain at least 6 feet away from people who are not part of your household unit. The same is true in public bathrooms.
- Don’t crowd into a restroom.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Limit the use of smaller restrooms to one person (and a parent or attendant, if needed) or household unit at a time.
- If there are too many people, form a line outside the restroom door and stay 6 feet from one another—or 6 feet between different households. People from the same household or living unit can be closer to one another.
Additional precautions include:
- Wear a cloth face covering, if you are able.
- Have hand sanitizer with you in case the facilities are not supplied with soap and water.
- Use hand sanitizer before entering the restroom.
- Use a clean paper towel or tissue each time you have to touch a surface, including door handles, locks, toilet seats and lids, and faucets.
- If there is one, close the toilet lid before flushing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the restroom. Use hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
- If they are available, use paper towels to dry your hands instead of air dryers. Hand dryers may spread the virus around an enclosed space.
- Leave the restroom when you are done. If possible, wait for friends or family outside the restroom door.
Q: Is there guidance for maintaining public bathroom facilities during this pandemic?