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DC Health Department Updates Coronavirus Testing Guidance

Friday, March 6, 2020

(Washington, DC) – On March 5, DC Health released updated coronavirus (COVID-19) testing guidance to all District healthcare providers. Consistent with the CDC guidance, only patients who meet specific Persons Under Investigation (PUI) criteria based on exposure and clinical factors and who are pre-approved by DC Health will be tested through the DC Department of Forensic Sciences Public Health Laboratory (DFS PHL).

PUIs in the District will be tested based on the following criteria:

  • Having fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND any person, including health care personnel who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset
  • Having fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND a history of travel to a country with a Level 2 or 3 Travel Advisory (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) OR an area with confirmed ongoing community transmission, within 14 days of symptom onset
  • Having fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g. cough or shortness of breath) AND a history of residing in a nursing home or long-term care facility within 14 days of symptom onset

DC Health advises residents who traveled to a Level 3 country to stay home for 14 days from the time they left the area(s) with widespread and ongoing community spread and practice social distancing. The recommendation for residents who traveled to a Level 2 country is to limit contact with others and monitor your health for 14 days after returning to the United States. Residents that may experience any symptoms related to COVID-19, while practicing social distancing, should contact their healthcare provider. To stay up to date on Level 2 and 3 countries visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

DC Health continues to work with partners to implement measures to identify COVID-19 in DC. To date, there have been 9 PUIs in DC: 8 PUIs tested negative and results are pending for 1 PUI. This information is updated daily at noon and is available at coronavirus.dc.gov.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. DC Health recommends the following actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory disease:

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

This updated guidance comes as a result of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated criteria for the evaluation of PUIs to include a wider group of symptomatic patients (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html) on March 4, 2020.

For more information on coronavirus, visit: