Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Stop the spreadThe University of Wisconsin Department of Emergency Medicine is committed to providing reliable and helpful information to individuals and families during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. For information and questions about symptoms, visitor guidelines, vaccines, and talking to a healthcare provider, please visit the UW Health COVID-19 website

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please call or send a MyChart message to your physician and wait for a response. Do not go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

What is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)?

UW Health and the University of Wisconsin are closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 that continues to expand. On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization named this disease coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

In order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends the following preventative measures:

Wear a face covering

Science shows that wearing a face covering can prevent the transmission of the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Individuals who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear a mask when around others.

When should I wear a face covering?

• Indoor spaces when you are not at home
• Enclosed spaces such as outdoor restaurants or bars, public transportation, and ride-shares
• Any other outdoor spaces in which physical distancing is difficult

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On Thursday, May 13, the CDC released updated guidance  that fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did before the pandemic, including participating in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Mask wearing continues to be an important COVID-19 mitigation strategy in public transportation, schools, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other settings where additional regulations still exist, regardless of vaccination status. DHS is currently working on updating webpages and publications to include updated guidance for fully vaccinated people and continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Visit the Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 website  for the latest health and safety recommendations.

Avoid close contact with others and practice physical distancing

• Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates, and nonessential appointments
• Avoid mass gatherings
• Stay at least 6 feet away from other people, when possible
• Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care

Note: healthcare settings such as UW Health continue to require barrier masks, physical distancing, and limited visitor guidelines at this time.

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Public health officials encourage members of the public who are fully vaccinated to visit the CDC's website  for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Practice good hand hygiene

• Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth when in public

Understand the potential risks of going out

As communities and businesses are opening, you may be looking for ways to resume some daily activities as safely as possible. It is important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions. Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a mask, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.

To better understand the risks of daily activities and leaving your home, visit the CDC's website.

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On Thursday, May 13, the CDC released updated guidance  that fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did before the pandemic, including participating in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Mask wearing continues to be an important COVID-19 mitigation strategy in public transportation(link is external), schools(link is external), health care settings(link is external), correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other settings where additional regulations still exist, regardless of vaccination status. DHS is currently working on updating webpages and publications to include updated guidance for fully vaccinated people and continues to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Visit the Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 website  for the latest health and safety recommendations.

For local residents, effective on June 2, 2021 Public Health Madison & Dane County will lift all public health orders in recognition of the latest CDC guidance, Dane County’s outstanding vaccination rate, and currently low average numbers of daily cases. Masking requirements will become recommendations and individual businesses and organizations may choose to enforce their own policies. See Public Health’s news release for more details .

Where can I learn more about COVID-19 vaccines?

Wisconsin DHS COVID Vaccine MapDuring these challenging times, one bright spot is the rapid progression of the development and regulatory approval of the COVID-19 vaccines. You can keep up to date with which populations are eligible and find and connect with vaccine providers in your area using the map of vaccine providers created by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

And because there is so much information in the news, it is not always clear what is happening or what the updates mean. Visit UW Health's COVID-19 vaccines FAQs to learn more. Members of eligible populations with a primary care provider at UW Health can visit uwhealth.org/vaccine for important information related to patient vaccinations.


More Resources

Additional information for patients and families can be found below:

Trusted Health Resources

Donating Convalescent Plasma

Convalescent plasma is plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 which has been authorized to treat people who are currently in the hospital fighting the virus. Donating this plasma once you've recovered from COVID-19 can help treat others battling the virus.

Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and would like to learn more about donating their plasma can e-mail uwcovid19project@hslc.wisc.edu or call (608) 262-8300.

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BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine     UW Health