Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs - Updated August 20, 2020
Hamilton County Health Department
Where can I access reputable information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Hamilton County, Tennessee?
1. Call the Hamilton County Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline at (423) 209-8383 for up-to-date information. The hotline is open Monday-Friday from 8AM- 4PM and Saturday from 10AM-3PM.
2. Visit the Connect With Us page to link to our social media accounts and Subscribe to our mailing list.
Where is the Hamilton County Health Department offering FREE COVID-19 Testing?
Click here to access the Health Department's COVID-19 testing calendar.
How will I receive my COVID-19 test results?
Please visit our Results Page for detailed information HERE.
Should I get retested after testing positive for COVID-19?
We strongly discourage getting retested within 3 months of the original positive COVID-19 test because many people will continue to test positive for weeks but will not be considered contagious. This is likely due to ‘viral debris’ or pieces of viral RNA remaining in the nasal cavity. This is impossible to predict and repeat positive test results do NOT mean further isolation is needed if your symptoms are gone. If your symptoms do return, however, you should be reevaluated by your physician or practitioner.
If the individual has already been in self-isolation for a minimum of ten days and their fever is gone (if they ever had one) and their other symptoms are gone or have improved, they are not considered to be contagious and this second positive test should be ignored.
Someone at work (my supervisor, coworker, one of my staff, etc.) was tested for COVID-19. Can the Health Department tell me their test result?
No. This information is private health information and cannot be shared with anyone other than the patient that was tested. It is up to the person who was tested to disclose this information.
I have an employee whose partner/household member tested positive for COVID-19. Does my employee have to quarantine? If so, for how long?
If your employee is not a “critical infrastructure” worker:
“Non-essential” workers should stay home and quarantine for 14 days, starting from their last date of contact with the person who is positive. For persons living in the same household with that person, this date may not be until the person who is positive has completed their 10 day period of isolation. If they develop symptoms during this quarantine period, they are encouraged to get tested as soon as possible and continue to stay home until test results are available. If the results are negative and their symptoms resolve, they may return to work when the quarantine period has ended. The exact dates and time periods required will be determined by the Health Department.
If your employee is a “critical infrastructure” worker:
It is always preferable and safest for anyone exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine themselves at home. However, if a “critical infrastructure” worker is required to work, they must be asymptomatic, wear masks at work, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently, etc. They must NOT carpool to and from work. They must quarantine before and after work for the full quarantine period. If they develop symptoms during this quarantine, they must notify their supervisor, leave work, get tested as soon as possible and stay home until test results are available. If the results are negative and their symptoms resolve, they may return to work under the previous precautions.
Do businesses need to post signs/posters requiring the use of masks or face coverings?
Yes. According to Directive No. 1 of the Hamilton County Health Officer Effective July 10, 2020 - All businesses shall post signage in a place visible to those entering to remind customers of this requirement.
If businesses would like to print signs already created by the Health Department, please visit our print resource page HERE.
The following verbiage is approved by the Hamilton County Health Department:
Face coverings required in this public space.
Es obligatorio usar una cubierta facial en esta área.
Face coverings over your nose and mouth are required to enter this area.
Se requiere usar una cubierta facial sobre la nariz y la boca para entrar en esta área.
As directed by the Hamilton County Health Department, any person entering this commercial area shall wear a facial covering.
De acuerdo a la directiva del Departamento de Salud del Condado de Hamilton toda persona que entre en este centro comercial deberá llevar puesta una cubierta facial.
As directed by the Hamilton County Health Department, any person entering this outdoor space shall wear a facial covering if unable to remain 6 feet from others.
De acuerdo a la directiva del Departamento de Salud del Condado de Hamilton, cualquier persona que entre en este espacio al aire libre deberá usar una cubierta facial si no puede permanecer a 6 pies o 2 metros de distancia de los demás.
What is contact tracing and how does the Health Department investigate positive cases of COVID-19?
When the Health Department is notified of a positive case, contact tracers contact the individual or close family members to establish when their infectious period was. The person is then asked about recent outings, visits, trips, appointments, etc. The contact tracer creates a list of close contacts based on how close and how much time was spent with their contacts. The contact tracer calls or otherwise personally notifies each contact to let them know that they have been exposed to a positive case. The name of the positive person remains anonymous. Contacts are then placed in quarantine and are assigned a contact monitor from the Health Department. Contact monitors call people undergoing quarantine to monitor their symptoms for a minimum of 14 day period from the last day of contact to the case to determine if the contact will become positive.
When does the Health Department notify the public of a public exposure event? (Example: a wedding, graduation, funeral, etc.)
If the Health Department cannot reach potential contacts via contact tracing, and the event or situation has the potential for significant community exposure, the Health Department may notify the public of a public exposure via press release and social media.
If I know I was exposed to a positive COVID-19 case but do not currently have any symptoms, how many days should I wait to get tested?
If you are asymptomatic, but have been exposed to COVID-19, especially if you were less than 6 feet from an infected person for more than 15 minutes, you should consider yourself to be quarantined for 14 days. You should stay home and avoid other people. You could become positive at any point during that 14 days, so a negative test at any point does not eliminate the possibility that you have contracted the virus nor does it end your quarantine. If you decide you want to be tested to see if you are positive, the average onset of illness is about 4-5 days, so waiting that period of time would be reasonable. If you are symptomatic, or become symptomatic at any time, you should get tested as soon as possible.
What should I do if someone in my household tested positive for COVID-19?
If someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you are considered a household contact. Household contacts will often need to stay home for a minimum of 24 days, which means 14 days after the case has completed their (minimum) 10-day isolation period (whether the case is symptomatic or not). If a household contact develops symptoms of COVID-19 they become a case. They should begin isolation as a case and consider getting tested. It is imperative to follow this guidance closely as the virus can be incubating during this timeframe. Leaving quarantine too soon can result in the spread of COVID-19. For more information, please visit: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/Isolation-QuarantineRelease.pdf
Can I pick-up free face coverings at the Health Department?
Yes. Businesses may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 423-209-8383 to schedule an appointment to pick up large quantities of masks (360 in each box).
Individuals may pick up masks from the bins located outside the Health Department’s 3rd St. entrances during hotline hours.