You're on campus and you start to feel sick — what should you do?

Friday, September 4, 2020 - 3:07pm

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Design by Michelle Fan

As the new semester gets busier and students gather for social events and in group living arrangements, it’s likely some students will begin to feel sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you get treatment and don’t spread the virus to others on campus. 

Isolate

Common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the common cold and other respiratory infections, including a fever of over 100 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue and sore throat. More information about these symptoms can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

If you experience mild symptoms and are a student with a University of Michigan login, you can fill out University Health Service’s online assessment for upper respiratory infection and COVID-19 from their website. You should also self-quarantine. The form asks about symptoms and whether you have been in contact with someone who is sick or who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can also contact the University Health Service at 734-764-8320. 

If symptoms are more severe, you can contact UHS at any time to be connected with a nurse. If you are experiencing trouble breathing, contact 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. 

If you are not a student, you can contact an organization doing COVID-19 testing in the Ann Arbor area. The Washtenaw County Health Department has compiled a list of those organizations. 

Once you fill out a form or get in touch with UHS, someone will contact you to discuss your responses and they may ask you to self-isolate until you can be tested or moved. During self-isolation, confine yourself to your bedroom and one bathroom if you live with others, avoid common spaces and have food delivered with no-contact drop off. You should only leave your home for health care.

When managing your symptoms at home, you should monitor symptoms often, wash your hands, stay hydrated and rested and clean all surfaces. The CDC has compiled recommendations for how to handle the virus at home and Michigan Medicine has advice for how to care for someone with COVID-19. 

Test

The University is testing students who are symptomatic or meet certain criteria, such as having had close personal contact with someone who has contracted the virus. Close contact is defined as having a personal interaction within six feet of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes.

Testing results through UHS or Michigan Medicine are available after approximately 48 to 72 hours. If you were tested elsewhere for COVID-19, you can report those test results to UHS. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate for at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, at least 24 hours with no fever without medication to reduce fever and until symptoms have improved. 

The Washtenaw County Health Department is working with the University to evaluate living situations and determine whether students can be isolated in their permanent residence or if they need to move to University-provided quarantine housing. If a student needs to isolate in one of the designated spaces, they will be contacted by a representative from the Division of Student Life to facilitate that transition. 

Lindsey Mortenson, UHS medical director, said the transition to quarantine housing can look different depending on a student’s preferences and current living situation. 

“If a student is not able to remain where they currently live, the moving process depends on whether they choose to: (1) return to their permanent residence, or (2) move to U-M quarantine/isolation housing,” Mortenson wrote in an email to The Daily. “If the latter, they are transported by Housing Security. Housing Security can stop at the student’s residence so they can pick up personal items. Sometimes students are transported directly from their residence.”

Meal delivery for quarantine or isolation can be requested and will be facilitated through Michigan Dining, in coordination with Student Life.

Trace

Those who test positive will also be called by a contact tracer or case investigator from the Washtenaw County Health Department of Environmental, Health, and Safety to discuss who they had close personal contact with. The representative will call potential close contacts and those people will likely be advised to self-quarantine and stay home for 14 days, check their temperature twice a day, stay away from high-risk individuals and contact a health care provider if they develop symptoms. 

Mortenson said how quickly case investigation and contact tracing takes place depends on the individual circumstance and that, in certain cases, people may be notified about exposure by family and friends first. 

“The timing of this outreach depends on where the testing was done (ER, UHS, non-UM facility) and what time of day the result is received,” Mortenson wrote. “On average, it is a goal to attempt case investigation within 24 hours of a test result. The timing of (alerting close contacts) would depend on how quickly the case investigation occurs. Sometimes people are contacted directly by friends and family (first).” 

Daily Staff Reporter Emma Ruberg can be reached at eruberg@umich.edu.