What If I Test Positive for COVID-19?

Once again, cases of COVID-19 are spiking around the nation—and our anxiety levels are rising along with them. We’ve all got a lot of questions, but this one just might be the biggest: What happens if I get a COVID test and it’s positive?

Thankfully, UP’s Heath and Counseling Center has answers. “We’ve been consulting with Multnomah County and the Oregon Health Authority in the development of our testing and case management plan, and we have a very robust, thought-out response system in place,” says Kaylin Soldat, nurse practitioner at UP’s Health and Counseling Center. “It will be even more so in spring. If you have symptoms and test positive, we have a plan where there’s a lot of good support, from a medical perspective and a personal perspective. It’s a well-thought-out plan.”

If you have symptoms, the first thing to do is schedule a virtual appointment with the HCC (email hcc@up.edu) or your personal healthcare provider. You’ll be asked about your symptoms, exposure, and can set up a time for a COVID test. What if you feel sick after hours or on the weekend? Follow the after hours instructions on the HCC website to get help from Providence Express Care.

Although the HCC has access to a limited number of rapid antigen tests, most of the tests take several days to get results. “While we wait, if we suspect the student’s symptoms are due to Covid, we’ll have the students isolate,” says Soldat. “If they live off campus, they’ll do it at home if they have their own bedroom and we’ll give them instructions. If they’re on campus, there are separate isolation apartments they can move to with their own bathroom and bedroom.”

Although you’ll be recovering alone, you’re not really alone. Whether you live on campus or off, you’ll be assigned a case manager, usually residence hall director or assistant director, who will be the communication liaison between you and the school and answer all of your questions. If you’re living on campus, they’ll help you move in, check in with you regularly, coordinate getting your meals delivered, and make sure you have everything you need.

If your test is positive, your case manager will also help you gather a list of people you may have come in contact with while contagious. “The county is responsible for contact tracing, but the University helps with the process. We’ll reach out to people with recommendations for quarantining, and we don’t have to name names.”

Isolation lasts for 10 days, so if you’re doing it on campus, think about packing along a little self-care kit to make your time a bit more comfortable. “We have things that we can provide,” says Soldat, “but you’ll want to bring something personal since you can’t go to the store to pick things up — a thermometer, your favorite cough drop, or a tea that’s really comforting.”

When the 10 days are up, you’ll need to be officially released from isolation from the healthcare provider who administered the test, either the HCC or your outside doctor. But don’t worry, your case manager will help facilitate this.

So, what if you don’t have symptoms, but were recently exposed to someone who does? There’s a plan in place for that too.

“If you’ve had a confirmed exposure with someone who has tested positive, reach out to the HCC or your healthcare provider,” Soldat says. “You may not need a test depending on the circumstances, but we still recommend quarantining in your room for 14 days from the last contact with the individual. If I’m around someone and they test positive and I test negative, I’m not in the clear. Some people are asymptomatic. False negatives happen. I still need to wait out that period.”

You’ll be assigned a case manager who will help coordinate your meals and get you what you need if you’re living on campus — but reserve the special requests for friends. “It’s hard. Fourteen days is a long time to be stuck in your room, but your case manager’s not going to be able to run out and get your favorite takeout every day,” she laughs.

Just remember, it’s only temporary. And if we all follow the Pilots Prevent protocols, chances are we can avoid it entirely.

“So far, our students are very aware and they’re very thoughtful,” says Soldat. “They’ve been good at monitoring their health and following recommendations. They want to keep each other safe, and they understand how important it is to protect each other.”

Posted on 12/01/2020