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Davis clarifies confusing ‘language’ of COVID-19

MADISON – With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are dealing with a barrage of terminology about the disease. The correct response to a scenario can be confusing when a person is symptomatic, or tests positive or experiences close contact of COVID-19.

Bonnie Davis, Lead Nurse for Madison City Schools, offered clarification to COVID-19 terms:

* Case – Involves someone who tested positive, with or without symptoms; exhibited symptoms but has not been tested; and is awaiting test results.

* Close Contact – Anyone in proximity of six feet for 15 minutes minimum (cumulative) in 24-hour period with an infected person, starting two days before symptoms appear.

* Isolation — Separating infected people (or cases) from people who are not sick.

* Quarantine — Separating people in close contact to COVID-19 to see if they become sick.

* Major Symptoms — New cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and/or smell.

* Minor Symptoms — Fever at least 100 degrees, headache, diarrhea, chills, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea/vomiting and congestion/runny nose.

The case and symptomatic close contact must isolate for 10 days from start of symptoms. On the tenth day, the case must be fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication; symptoms must be resolving.

Close contacts without symptoms must quarantine for 14 days from last contact with the case.

“Why can a case come back to school before the close contact? The CDC has determined that the case is no longer contagious after 10 days; however, the close contact can still develop symptoms until 14 days after exposure,” Davis said.

Even with a negative test during quarantine, the person is not released from quarantine because symptoms can develop until the 14th day. The school nurse will advise when the person can return to school.

In testing, the PCR test is most accurate with results in several days. The rapid test yields its results in an hour but is accurate for positive results only.

Siblings of a symptomatic child require specific procedures:

* Isolate the sick child from the family. Disinfect all common areas after contact with the sick person.

* “If the symptomatic person is the parent/caregiver, treat yourself as the sick and your children as siblings,” Davis said.

* Keep siblings at home.

* After a symptomatic child tests positive, siblings should stay home. Notify the school nurse. Close contacts at home and school must quarantine for 14 days.

“The purpose of quarantine is to see if the person becomes sick,” Davis said. “The quarantine starts on the last day he/she had contact with the case.” For a test, wait five days minimum from last exposure with the case.

In mid-September, MCS stated the number of COVID-19 cases at each campus. On Sept. 22, Discovery Middle School reported that an employee was confirmed positive as a COVID-19 case. School officials notified all close contacts of the positive case.

The employee will return after clearance with ADPH guidelines. Following MCS protocols, Discovery has sanitized and cleaned Discovery’s building.

Also on Sept. 22, Madison Hospital had 11 inpatients positive for COVID-19; no patients required ventilators. Two COVID-19 patients were in ICU. Six patients were under investigation, but no one was admitted on Sept. 22. (

“Your child’s school nurse is a great resource. Also, please refer to “Health Services” at,” Davis said.


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