A Letter to Our Primary Care Patients

January 18, 2022


Dear Patient,

We know you may have questions about COVID-19, at-home tests and more. We hope the information below is helpful.

Please note that our practices are receiving an incredibly high volume of messages and calls. We are also experiencing staffing shortages. Response times may be delayed, and we apologize for this inconvenience. Our staff is working hard to respond as quickly as possible, and we appreciate your understanding.

In addition to COVID-19, flu is now spreading in our community, too. If you have a negative COVID-19 test but experience moderate symptoms, including fever and body aches, contact your primary care provider’s office. They may test you for the flu, especially if you are in one of the high-risk groups listed below.

We will provide more information as it becomes available. Please continue to take precautions, like getting your COVID-19 vaccine and booster, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, keeping your distance from others and washing your hands to help keep yourself and others safe.

Thank you for trusting us with your care,

Your UVM Medical Center Primary Care Team

FAQs: COVID-19 Symptoms, At-home Tests and More

I have symptoms that I think might be COVID. Do I need a test?

If you have symptoms, you should be tested.

Please do not go to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care for a COVID-19 test.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

  • Isolation is for people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Quarantine is for people who might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Both mean staying away from others for a specified time, as outlined by the CDC.

What does being in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19 mean?

“Close contact” refers to time you spent directly with an infected person.

  • Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.
  • The 15 minutes do not need to be at the same time. For example, three separate 5-minute exposures over the course of a day would total a 15-minute exposure.

Guidance regarding the need for quarantine and testing after exposure to COVID-19 continues to change as experts learn more about the virus. Please review the current guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and the CDC for next steps.

If you have symptoms that you think may be COVID-19, you should be tested.

Please do not go to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care for a COVID-19 test.

What if my child, who attends public school, is exposed to or gets COVID-19?

Although state guidance exists for Vermont public schools, policies may vary by school. Call your child’s school to understand their specific policies on quarantining for possible exposures.

Am I high risk for severe COVID-19?

Some people are high risk for severe COVID-19, including those:

  • Undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Currently taking medications for transplant
  • Taking immunosuppressant medications for other conditions
  • Ages 65 or older

Additionally, people with certain medical conditions are also at higher risk. Some of these include:

  • Chronic lung, kidney or liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Obesity

Review the CDC guidelines for additional high-risk medical conditions, and speak with your doctor about any concerns.

I tested negative after being exposed to COVID-19. What should I do now?

  • If you tested negative with an at-home test, follow the current guidelines related to quarantine and other testing.
  • If you develop symptoms, you should test again.
  • If an at-home test is negative and you have symptoms, test yourself with another at-home test after a few days or get a PCR test.

I tested positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test. Do I need to get a PCR test?

If you test positive using an at-home testing kit, you have COVID-19.
You do not need a PCR test for confirmation. Isolate at home immediately. Tell your close contacts that you have COVID-19 so they can follow current guidelines for quarantine and testing.

I tested positive, and I’m NOT high risk for severe COVID-19. What should I do next?

  • Mild Symptoms – Stay Home and Isolate

If you have these symptoms, stay at home, isolate, rest, drink plenty of fluids and monitor your symptoms:

  • Temperature below 100.4 degrees (below 102.4 degrees for children 3 months and older)
  • Aches and pains
  • Mild cough

You do not need to contact your doctor to let them know you have COVID. You should start feeling better within a few days.

  • Moderate Symptoms – Call Your Provider

Contact your primary care provider’s office if you have moderate symptoms like a fever higher than 100.4 degrees, significant coughing or shortness of breath.

  • If you are receiving cancer treatment, please call your oncologist’s office.
  • For children ages 3 months and older who are not immunocompromised, call your child’s primary care provider’s office if they have:
    • Fever, greater than 102.4 degrees
    • Significant coughing or shortness of breath
    • Unusual sleepiness
    • No bathroom use in more than 10 hours (if 3 years or older) or more than 8 hours (if younger than 3 years old)
  • Severe Symptoms – Go to the Emergency Department
  • Go to the Emergency Department or call 911 if you have severe symptoms, such as:
  • Severe trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or dizziness
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

I tested positive, AND I’m high risk for severe COVID-19. What should I do next?

Call your primary care provider’s office. If you are high risk for severe COVID-19 and are within your first 10 days of symptoms, your provider may refer you for outpatient COVID-19 treatment. Referral is required and supply is very limited. Current demand is exceeding our supply.

  • Please note: monoclonal antibody therapy (mAB) is NOT available at our Urgent Care or the Emergency Departments. If you are eligible, your primary care provider will refer you to a designated infusion clinic.
  • Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir, oral antiviral medications with emergency use authorization from the FDA for qualifying patients, are available by prescription only.