COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

What you need to know

At UW Medicine, we're working to protect and care for our community through the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the steps we're taking:

Our commitment to your health and safety.

Antibody testing available by appointment.

Drive-up coronavirus testing offered by appointment.

Telehealth appointments offered at more clinics.

Universal coronavirus testing for all patients admitted to our hospitals.

Updated visitor policy.

What you should do if you think you have COVID-19

During this pandemic, feeling sick can be scary. But if you have symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath, the best thing to do is to stay at home and contact your doctor.

Find out if you should be tested

Use our COVID-19 virtual assistant to answer a few quick questions and learn the next steps you should take.

Call our COVID-19 info line

If you have questions or need to talk to a nurse, please call 206.520.2285 or 855.520.2285

Message your provider in eCare

With eCare, UW Medicine’s patient portal, your care team will triage your case and direct you to the right care. 

Visit the virtual clinic

You can receive an evaluation 24/7 by a board-certified physician by phone, computer or app. We are experiencing higher volumes than usual. Thank you for your patience. 

 

People at higher risk for COVID-19

Some people seem to be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions, such as those with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes. People who have had a transplant are also at higher risk. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on how to protect yourself and your family.
UW Medicine Visitor Policy

UW Medicine Visitor Policy

To protect our patients, staff and community, we are restricting patient visits. In addition, all visitors, vendors, employees and patients must wear a mask when entering a UW Medicine facility.

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Frequently asked questions about care and services


Yes. All visitors, vendors, employees and patients must wear a mask when entering a UW Medicine facility. Visitors and patients can use cloth face covers or personal masks. If a patient or visitor does not have a mask, they will be provided with one.


If you start to feel ill, try not to panic. Many people who get COVID-19 experience minor symptoms and do not need medical care.

When you first start to feel sick, call your doctor for guidance and track your symptoms. You can contact your doctor by phone or eCare, or use the UW Medicine Virtual Clinic.

If you still have questions, please call our COVID-19 info line at 206.520.2285 or 855.520.2285.

If you have a mild case, you may be able to treat your symptoms at home. Staying home helps prevent you from exposing other people to the disease.

You don’t need to go to the hospital unless you’re experiencing symptoms that could be a medical emergency. These symptoms include having trouble breathing, feeling a persistent pain or pressure in your chest, becoming confused or disoriented, or having your face or lips turn blue. If you can, have someone call the hospital in advance so they can prepare for your visit.


If you have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, please contact your doctor or the UW Medicine Virtual Clinic to see if you need to be tested.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. You may also experience body aches, fatigue, a runny nose, a sore throat, a loss of your sense of smell or taste, headaches or gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. These symptoms don’t always occur but, if they do, they’re easy to confuse with the symptoms of a cold, flu or seasonal allergies. The main way to tell the difference between COVID-19 and these other conditions is if your symptoms worsen or don’t improve after about a week.

For UW Medicine patients who need testing, we offer drive-up testing by appointment only.


If you tested positive for COVID-19, follow these steps to protect your loved ones and the community. These steps should also be followed if you haven't been tested but think you have it.

  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. This is called home isolation.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor or a hospital.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick if possible.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue or your elbow, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as dishes, drinking glasses or towels.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches, every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms and contact your doctor if you get worse.
  • Get medical attention immediately if you experience these warning signs:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

Detailed information about these steps can be found on the CDC's website.


You should isolate yourself for 10 days or 72 hours after your symptoms have completely resolved, whichever is longer.

For example, if all symptoms get better after two days, you should remain isolated for 10 days. If your symptoms get better after 10 days, you should remain isolated for 13 days.


The UW Medicine price for the COVID-19 lab test is: $255. The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has ordered all health plans regulated by his office to cover testing for COVID-19 without copays or deductibles.

It does not apply to the following plans:

  • Employer plans that are self-funded
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Federal employee health plans
  • Health plans for members of the military or veterans
  • Uniform Medical Plan for state and school employees

While the cost of the COVID-19 test may be covered, some other medical care costs related to your illness depend on your insurance coverage. These medical costs could include other tests, such as testing for the flu or other respiratory illness.

For uninsured patients, UW Medicine representatives will assist you to see if you qualify for free COVID-19 test coverage by the state. Please call 206.598.4388, for more information or if you have any other questions.

More information about health insurance and the coronavirus is available on the Insurance Commissioners website.


Yes, you can still make an appointment. Please don’t put off care if you’re concerned about your health. UW Medicine clinics remain open for care that cannot be delayed.

In addition, you will be offered telehealth or telephone appointments when medically appropriate.

In-person appointments for routine and non-urgent care, such as annual check-ups, routine monitoring and wellness exams, will be deferred until after May 1 or when social distancing measures recommended by Public Health – Seattle & King County have been lifted. We are also deferring all elective outpatient surgeries and procedures.

If you have a scheduled in-person appointment, please check in with your provider before coming to your appointment during these uncertain times.


The new clinical lab test can tell if someone had a past infection with the COVID-19 coronavirus whether or not that person had symptoms. The test looks for a particular antibody in the blood that shows the person has an immune response to previous infection with this virus. This is different from the nasal swab testing, which is used to determine if you currently have an active infection with the virus. The antibody diagnostic test can only be ordered by a person’s healthcare provider and will involve a blood draw. The benefits of getting this test remain uncertain and should not be used for diagnosis of COVID-19 at this time. If you previously have had a nasal swab test positive for COVID-19, there is little clinical need for the antibody test.

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While it's not yet certain that it proves someone is immune, or how long such immunity would last, researchers and clinicians think these tests might help answer these questions. Antibody tests might also be used to evaluate potential vaccines, or to determine what percentage of a population has been exposed to, and overcame, this coronavirus. The hope is such blood tests, if they do predict immunity, may be useful in re-opening business and schools, sending people back to work and allowing people to enjoy socializing and recreational activities again.


The plasma research study collects antibodies in blood donated by people who have recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19. Researchers are checking to see if these antibodies can be used to treat people who are acutely ill with COVID-19. The antibodies are given intravenously. This is an experimental treatment and people who are seriously sick or at risk for complications need to be enrolled in a study or require compassionate use to receive this specific experimental antibody treatment. You cannot otherwise request this treatment.


UW Medicine and Bloodworks Northwest are seeking adult volunteers who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.

To be considered, you must meet both criteria:

  • Have received a documented diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2
  • Be free of symptoms (asymptomatic) for 28 days after having the virus

If you meet the criteria, please email your name and contact information to covidplasma@uw.edu or call 206.520.4212 to leave a message.

Due to high interest, it may take several days for a study coordinator to respond to an inquiry.

Answers to your questions about COVID-19


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.


Symptoms of COVID-19 may include: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Runny nose

Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, may develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.


It appears to spread by people with the infection coughing and sneezing.

That’s how infected people project moisture droplets. Those droplets are inhaled by other people. They also are moved to the eyes, nose or mouth by contaminated hands when you touch your face.

This is how other respiratory viruses spread. We have a lot to learn about COVID-19, but it appears to spread the same way.


The most important steps to take are:

  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are feeling ill.

If you experience symptoms, contact your doctor’s office. They will help you determine if you need to be seen and provide you with instructions for seeking medical care.

Most importantly, please follow the advice of Public Health - Seattle & King County on what to do to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.


People at higher risk include:

  • People 60 and older.
  • People with underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease.
  • People who have weakened immune systems.
  • People who are pregnant.

People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.

How you can help

If you would like to support UW Medicine's efforts to save lives and stop COVID-19 through a cash gift or in-kind donation, please visit acceleratemed.org/heroes.

Donate

You may also share a message of support and gratitude with our doctors, nurses, researchers and staff on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Send a message