COVID-19 FAQs for Providers

This document contains information regarding novel coronavirus/COVID-19, testing and reporting information, modified quarantine and disease investigation, personal protective equipment, medication-assisted treatment providers, and additional resources.

Guidance for Asymptomatic Healthcare, Law Enforcement and Public Health Workers with Exposure to COVID-19

News Update

Updated April 23, 2021, 6:00 PM

Sedgwick County Health Department monitors and investigates reports of disease every day, from whooping cough and chickenpox to tuberculosis and HIV. Staff are trained in methods to reduce the spread of disease. You can help, too. COVID-19 is a new disease but it spreads the same as the flu, through respiratory droplets (ex. coughing and sneezing).

What is the Person Under Investigation (PUI) criteria for providers to report to KDHE?

Testing Approval Form

If a patient fits the above criteria, report suspect cases to KDHE Epidemiology Hotline (1-877-427-7317).

How do we test for COVID-19?

A laboratory test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is performed by the state health department laboratory in Topeka or through commercial laboratories. Small swabs from a person’s nose or throat or the person's saliva are used for the test. 

People wanting no-cost testing through Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) may visit Sedgwick County Park - Sunflower Shelter at 6501 W. 21st, Wichita. The Sunflower Shelter is located closer to the park entrance at 13th. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday to Friday. No appointment is required. First Come. First Served. 

What recommendations can I give to patients to protect themselves from COVID-19?

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with fever over 100.4ºF, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, extreme exhaustion, and fatigue.

What are severe complications from this virus?

In severe cases, infection can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. People over 60 years old and those with other underlying health conditions are more likely to have severe illness.

How soon after exposure do symptoms start?

In general symptoms appear 2 – 14 days after exposure.

Is there a vaccine?

At this time, there are three vaccines for COVID-19 in the United States. One is manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech; and another is manufactured by Moderna. Each need two doses from the same manufacturer. The most newly authorized vaccine is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and requires just one dose. The vaccine provider will give individuals information at the time of immunization.

Is there a treatment?

At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, Remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 in certain situations. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some people have developed pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization. (See "What recommendations can I give to patients to protect themselves from COVID-19.")

What steps do health department staff take to investigate people who may have COVID-19?

  1. If a person is identified as a Person Under Investigation (PUI), the person is tested.

    1. A person with symptoms remains at home.

    2. A person without symptoms may continue normal activities.

  2. If results are positive, a SCHD Disease Investigator will interview the PUI to create a detailed timeline of where he or she went while potentially infectious, following SCHD Modified Disease Investigation protocol.

    1. SCHD Disease Investigator will help identify people who had close contact with the PUI. All of their close contacts will be referred to KDHE for follow-up. This only occurs if the person gives SCHD permission. Close contacts should complete the COVID-19 Modified Quarantine.

  3. If the test result is negative, the PUI can return to normal activities--unless they are under quarantine for contact with a positive case or travel history.

What is a “person under investigation (PUI)?”

A person under investigation (PUI) is an ill person with possible novel coronavirus infection. A PUI is someone who meets one of the criteria outlined previously. If a person is considered a PUI, KDHE will coordinate with the local health department and healthcare provider to collect samples for testing.

What is a confirmed case?

A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive at the state health department laboratory or at a commercial laboratory AND at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When can a person who tests positive resume normal activities?

A person can return to normal activities 10 days after symptoms started OR 72 hours (3 full days) after symptoms stop after taking fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer (minimum of 10 days).

How will people be informed if they have been in contact with a case?

If a person is identified as a contact of a case, they will be referred to KDHE for follow-up.

Beginning December 7, 2020, Sedgwick County residents exposed to COVID-19-positive people may quarantine for a shortened length of time, following KDHE guidelines. Previously, close contacts and travelers had to quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days until they could leave their home and return to in-person work.

 7-Day Quarantine – no symptoms and with testing

 10-Day Quarantine – no symptoms and no testing

People who develop symptoms or who wish to be tested while in quarantine can view the testing locator website to find a testing location near you. 

People wanting no-cost testing through Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) may visit Sedgwick County Park – Sunflower Shelter at 6501 W. 21st, Wichita. The Sunflower Shelter is located closer to the park entrance at 13th. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday to Friday. No appointment is required. First come. First served.

SCHD recommends that all close contacts test for COVID-19 at day six or seven of quarantine to ensure viral load is high enough to detect the virus.

If a resident tests positive for COVID-19, the resident can spread coronavirus and should remain at home in isolation for 10 days from the day symptoms started OR 72 hours (3 full days) after symptoms stop after taking fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer (minimum of 10 days).

 Modified Disease Investigation

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements for Healthcare Providers Collecting Specimen Swabs from a Patient Suspected of Having COVID-19

What testing and standards should I consider when looking for CDC-recommended protective clothing?

What methods should healthcare facilities consider in order to avoid unintentional loss of PPE during COVID-19?

Educating staff on proper use of PPE and monitoring PPE supply inventory and maintaining control over PPE supplies may help prevent unintentional product losses that may occur due to theft, damage, or accidental loss.

Gowns

What type of gown is recommended for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

What types of gowns are available for healthcare personnel to protect from COVID-19?

While the transmissibility of COVID-19 is not fully understood, gowns are available that protect against microorganisms. The choice of gown should be made based on the level of risk of contamination. Certain areas of surgical and isolation gowns are defined as “critical zones” where direct contact with blood, body fluids, and/or other potentially infectious materials is most likely to occur.

What is the difference between gowns and coveralls?

How do I put on (don) and take off (doff) my gown?

Is it acceptable for emergency medical services to wear coveralls as an alternative to gowns when COVID-19 is suspected in a patient needing emergency transport?

Gloves

What type of glove is recommended to care for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

What standards should be considered when choosing gloves?

Is double gloving necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

Are extended length gloves necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

How I do put on (don) and take off (doff) my gloves?

Eye Protection

Respirators

Should I wear a respirator, such as an N95 respirator, in public?

What is a respirator?

What is an N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR)?

What are the two main types of masks for medical use?

There are two main types of masks for medical use – N95 or “facemasks” (also called surgical or earloop masks).

What is an N95 respirator?

N95 respirators are used by healthcare employees who have exposures to respiratory pathogens.

What is a facemask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or earloop mask)?

What is a Surgical N95 respirator and who needs to wear it?

My employees complain that Surgical N95 respirators are hot and uncomfortable – what can I do?

My N95 respirator has an exhalation valve, is that okay?

An N95 respirator with an exhalation valve does provide the same level of protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve.

How can I tell if a respirator is NIOSH-approved?

The NIOSH approval number and approval label are key to identifying NIOSH-approved respirators.

How do I know if my respirator is expired?

NIOSH does not require approved N95 filtering face piece respirators (FFRs) be marked with an expiration date.

What do I do with an expired respirator?

In times of increased demand and decreased supply, consideration can be made to use N95 respirators past their intended shelf life.

Can healthcare workers and EMS staff wear facemasks if N95 masks are not available due to supply shortage?

According to CDC guidance updated on April 9, 2021, although the supply and availability of NIOSH-approved respirators have increased significantly over the last several months and considering local and regional situational analysis of PPE supplies, facemasks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand.

Special Considerations for Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers

Contact the Kansas Opioid Treatment Authority with questions specific to opioid treatment programs:

Check the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) website for guidance specific to Kansas. 

Check the CDC and SAMHSA websites frequently to find new guidance and trainings.

Sedgwick County Drug Misuse Information website with local data and treatment resources.

Online Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration