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Procedures for Positive Cases of COVID-19

To support Northwestern community members who test positive for COVID-19 or those who may have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, the University has established a COVID-19 Response Team (CRT). The CRT can be reached directly by emailing covidcasemanagement@northwestern.edu. The COVID Response Team is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The CRT becomes aware of a community member that is COVID-19 positive in two primary ways:

  • Based on results reporting of a COVID-19 test administered at one of our NU testing sites or through an offsite referral to Northwestern Medicine
  • Based on an individual’s mandatory self-reporting of a positive diagnosis identified through other means
 

What happens if you test positive?

Students

  • You should self-isolate immediately in accordance with Northwestern and CDC requirements regardless of your vaccination status. You will receive a notification from the COVID-19 Response Team with guidance on next steps.
  • If you are a student living in Northwestern residence halls, you will be moved to separate housing for the period of self-isolation. Northwestern will coordinate cleaning, food service, and other logistics for residential students in self-isolation.
  • If you are a student living off-campus, you will self-isolate at home, following suggested guidance from the CDC. Northwestern does not have quarantine/isolation facilities for off-campus students.
  • If at any point you require emergency medical attention, call 911 to access the most local emergency services.

Faculty or Staff

  • You should self-isolate immediately in accordance with Northwestern and CDC requirements regardless of your vaccination status.  You will also receive a notification from the COVID-19 Response Team with guidance on next steps.
  • Please work directly with your primary care clinical team to notify them of your positive test and to seek direction on any follow-up care.
  • If at any point you require emergency medical attention, call 911 to access the most local emergency services.

Northwestern's Response

 

Campus Notification

The University is confident that our shared vigilance in adherence to safety protocols minimizes the risks posed by COVID-19. While there is often great interest in knowing about positive cases, Northwestern owes an obligation of privacy to anyone who has tested positive.

To ensure transparency when positive cases are identified, the following communication protocols are supported:

  • The COVID-19 Dashboard is updated weekly with information about positive cases. The webpage shares the number of new cases broken down by students, faculty and staff.
  • Units and departments do not send email messages every time there is a positive case on campus.

FAQs

I have not yet received my test results. How can I get them?

Northwestern provides direct access to results when they become available, which is generally either 30 minutes or one to three days based on the testing platform. If you did not receive information on how to receive your results, or are otherwise unable to access them, you can send an email to NU-COVID-Testing-Support@northwestern.edu

I have received a positive diagnosis and am asymptomatic. Do I still need to isolate?

Yes. Per CDC guidelines, people who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least five full days, regardless of symptoms. If you are asymptomatic on Day 5, you will be eligible to complete a release test in an attempt to test out of your full 10-day isolation window. You are allowed to attempt one release test each day beginning on Day 5. 

  • If you receive a negative result, you will be fully cleared to return to campus. Even after you are cleared to return to campus, you are still required to wear a mask and socially distance through the 10th day from your initial positive test.  
  • If you receive a positive result, you must remain in isolation until your next release test attempt.

Where can I complete a release test?

You can complete this test at the Jacobs Center using the northwest entrance (near Sheridan Road). Before visiting our symptomatic testing site, please confirm the current hours of operation. Please note, over-the-counter and at-home tests of any kind (including BinaxNOW) are not considered an official test result for a release test. If you are unable to complete your test-out process at the Jacobs Center, you may upload your official COVID antigen test results from a third party testing site to this link and notify covidcasemanagement@northwestern.edu.