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We are in Safe Start Phase 2. Read our press release.

Questions about COVID-19? Visit our COVID-19 pages.

We suspended most in-person services. Read our blog post.

The Health Department is closed July 3 for the Fourth of July Holiday.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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Our FAQ answers dozens of your most-asked questions about the COVID-19 outbreak. We update this page often. 

COVID-19 frequently asked questions are listed below. You can filter the questions by selecting an area of interest from the drop down list below.

Click on a question to learn more.

  • Businesses and Government COVID-19

    • I work with infectious or medical waste. Should I take additional precautions?

    • Can I go to my gym in Phase 2?

    • Do I need to wear a mask at the gym or the grocery store?

    • How can employers protect workers?

    • How do I social distance at my business or government agency (non-medical facility)?

    • I don’t want to follow Governor Inslee’s proclamations. What happens if I don't follow the rules?

    • I had COVID-19, when can I return to work?

    • I think my business is essential. How can my business be added to the state list of essential businesses?

    • I work in solid waste. Should I take additional precautions?

    • I work in wastewater. Should I take additional precautions?

    • If field crews come in contact with a person who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 should we be reporting these cases?

    • Should I take additional precautions with COVID-19 waste?

    • What if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?

    • What if I can't pay my food establishment permit renewal or invoice on time?

    • What is the Governor’s plan to restart construction projects?

    • What type of cleaning and disinfecting products should I use?

  • Case Count Information COVID-19

    • How can I view my geographic region on the map?

    • There aren’t many cases where I live. Am I less likely to get COVID-19?

    • What can I see on this map?

    • Where can I find information about hospital beds available in Pierce County? Or other hospitalization data?

    • Why did you add this map?

    • Why did you change this map?

    • Why do our case numbers differ from what the Department of Health reports on its website?

    • Why do you no longer report cases for JBLM?

    • Why isn’t my city listed in case counts?

    • Why isn’t the case count web page loading?

  • Exposure, Symptoms & Treatment COVID-19

    • Can a person spread the infection if they don’t feel sick?

    • Can I get COVID-19 from a surface or object?

    • Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?

    • How does COVID-19 spread?

    • I had COVID-19, when can I return to work?

    • I think I have COVID-19. What should I do?

    • I was around someone who has COVID-19. What should I do?

    • I was in close contact with someone who was in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. What should I do?

    • If I get exposed to COVID-19 or if I get it, am I immune now?

    • I'm a patient at a hospital. Am I at risk for COVID-19 from other patients?

    • Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

    • Should I worry about COVID-19 contamination on my food?

    • Should I worry about COVID-19 on my mail and packages?

    • What are COVID-19 symptoms?

    • What is self-monitoring and active-monitoring?

    • What should I consider a fever?

    • Where would People Under Investigation (PUIs) be while they wait for results of their tests?

    • Will the flu shot help to prevent COVID-19?

  • Food Establishments COVID-19

    • Are there any additional requirements when I deliver food?

    • Can customers pay with cash?

    • I am a food employee. Do I need to take any special precautions when preparing food?

    • If I run a hotel or bed and breakfast, can I serve a continental breakfast?

    • Should I worry about COVID-19 contamination on my food?

  • General Questions COVID-19

    • Can I visit friends and family during this time?  

    • Do you have a long-term plan for investigating COVID-19 in Pierce County?

    • How do I physical distance when I run errands?  

    • How much does this response cost and who pays?

    • I need to get groceries. Are grocery stores closed?

    • I’m concerned and want to learn more. Where can I learn more?

    • Is it a good idea to donate blood right now?

    • What businesses and activities are allowed?

    • What is COVID-19?

    • What type of cleaning and disinfecting products should I use?

    • Where can I find information about volunteering?

  • Human Service Providers COVID-19

    • Can my clients access telehealth services for COVID-19?

    • How can people living homeless get their stimulus payments?

    • Is Assessment and Recovery different than Quarantine and Isolation?

    • What are severe symptoms of COVID-19?

    • What is the difference between a Temporary Care Center and a Temporary Expansion Shelter?

    • Where can I find information about volunteering?

  • Investigation and Contact Tracing COVID-19

    • Do you tell close contacts who exposed them to COVID-19?

    • How can I apply to be a contact tracer?

    • What information do you send close contacts?

    • What is a case investigation?

    • What is contact tracing?

    • What questions does the interviewer ask?

    • Who do they share my information with?

  • Masks COVID-19

    • Can facilities prohibit me from entry if I do not have a face covering?

    • Can I go to my gym in Phase 2?

    • Do I need a doctor’s note if I have a medical condition preventing me from wearing a face covering?

    • Do I need to wear a mask at the gym or the grocery store?

    • Do I need to wear a mask outside?

    • Do I still have to wear a mask?

    • Does COVID-19 spread more easily indoors?

    • How do we know cloth face coverings work?

    • I find wearing a mask irritates my skin. What should I do?

    • I would rather just cover my mouth. Does that help?

    • If I’m healthy, do I still need to wear a mask?

    • Is physical distancing still required if I’m wearing a mask?

    • Should I wear a mask?

    • What is the Health Department policy about face coverings for employees and customers?

    • What is the state’s requirement about face coverings?

    • Where do I need to wear a mask?

    • Who should wear a mask?

    • Will wearing a mask make me sick?

  • Phase 3 COVID-19

    • Early in the pandemic, Washington saw many positive tests at long-term care facilities like nursing homes and memory care centers. Are those trouble spots again?

    • How bad is an increased case count? 

    • When will we be ready to apply for Phase 3?

    • Where do recent increased case counts come from?

    • Why have there been changes recently in data reports?

    • Why is the case count going up now?

    • Will increased case counts keep us from going into Phase 3?

  • Reopening COVID-19

    • Can children play on playground equipment or sports courts?

    • How can I prepare to reopen my business?

    • Is safe distancing still important at playgrounds?

    • My business isn’t listed on the phased approach chart, and I don’t see any guidance. Where can I find more information?

    • Once Pierce County moves to the next phase, do I need approval from the health department to reopen my business?

    • What parks are open?

    • When can my business open?

    • Where can I find my industry specific guidance?

  • Resources for Individuals and Families COVID-19

    • How can I learn about Paid Family and Medical Leave?

    • How can people living homeless get their stimulus payments?

    • How do I report an eviction?

    • I don’t have a primary care provider. Where can I find one?

    • What if I don't have access to the internet to receive COVID-19 information?

    • What type of cleaning and disinfecting products should I use?

  • Schools and Childcare COVID-19

    • Are gatherings (childcare or elsewhere) safe for children with preexisting health conditions?

    • Can children play on playground equipment or sports courts?

    • Can I use hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19?

    • How do I achieve physical distancing at my child care facility?

    • How do I clean toys at my child care facility?

    • How do I disinfect keyboards and other electronic devices that can't be sprayed?

    • I don’t have a primary care provider. Where can I find one?

    • If our childcare facility decides to close, how long should we remain closed?

    • Is it safe to bring my kids to the park?

    • Should custodians wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when they clean and sanitize?

    • What are quarantine and isolation?

    • What can I do to minimize the potential for germ spread in a childcare environment?

    • What is the recommended group size for child care facilities?

    • What questions should I ask during a health screening at my child care facility?

    • What safety precautions should we take at school meal distribution sites?

    • What should child care providers do if they are at higher risk of serious illness?

    • What should my childcare do to prevent spread of illness?

    • Where can I find out information for child care?

    • Where can I find resources for teaching children proper handwashing?

  • Temporary Care Centers COVID-19

    • Can I bring my pet with me?

    • Can I have visitors?

    • Can someone leave a temporary care center against public health advice?

    • How are people living near a temporary care center protected?

    • How did you select temporary care center locations?

    • How do I get placed at a temporary care center?

    • How long will the hotel remain a care center?

    • Is Assessment and Recovery different than Quarantine and Isolation?

    • Is there parking available?

    • Is there security at these centers?

    • What accommodations will you provide?

    • What amenities will you offer?

    • What is the difference between a Temporary Care Center and a Temporary Expansion Shelter?

    • Who pays for the temporary care centers?

    • Who will stay at the Temporary Care Centers?

    • Will the Temporary Care Center be safe to use after it's done housing our community members for assessment and recovery?

    • Will you offer on-site medical care?

    • Will you provide food to residents?

  • Testing COVID-19

    • Do my restrictions change if I test negative?

    • How did testing requirements change in Phase 2?

    • How do test results get from labs to local health agencies?

    • How much are uninsured patients being charged for COVID-19 testing?

    • I think I have COVID-19. What should I do?

    • I took part in a protest. Should I get tested?

    • What happens if I test positive?

    • What is antibody testing?

    • What should I do if an employee or someone I know is being tested?

    • Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

    • Who should get tested?

    • Why are some communities of people singled out for testing?

    • Why do you have different numbers on your data dashboards for the cases per 100,000 population over 14 days?

    • Why is it important to expand testing?

    • Why should I get tested?

    • Will insurance cover costs for testing and treatment for COVID-19?