Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About TESTING

Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether you have symptoms. Walk-up and drive-thru testing is available at Syracuse Community Health Center every Monday-Saturday, 9am to 5pm. Mobile clinic locations are also being announced as they become available, register here for an upcoming clinic.

Testing is also available at some urgent care centers and primary care offices. Contact your primary care provider for questions about testing or contact the Upstate Triage line at 315.464.3979. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, please call 911.

Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether you have symptoms. It is especially important to get tested when:

  • An individual is symptomatic or has a history of symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing), particularly if the individual is 70 years of age or older, the individual has a weakened immune system, or the individual has an underlying health condition); or
  • An individual has had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19; or
  • An individual is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine; or
  • An individual is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working.

OCHD is notified of positive diagnostic COVID-19 test results and will contact positive cases individually, but does not investigate negative test results.

Contact the provider where the test was given for negative test results. If the test was conducted by Syracuse Community Health Center, you can access the Quest portal here, or contact them at 315.476.7921. If the test was done through Upstate, you can access the patient portal here.

An antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies can be found in the blood of people who are tested after infection and show that people have had an immune response to the infection. Antibody test results are especially important for detecting previous infections with few or no symptoms. We do not know, however, if the antibodies that result from SARS-CoV-2 infection will provide someone with immunity from future infection.

If you would like to receive antibody testing, please contact your primary care provider. Please keep in mind the following:
• The offered test may not have been reviewed by the FDA.
• Negative results do not rule out COVID-19 infection
• Positive antibody test results does not mean you have immunity against the virus

Based on our knowledge of how the body reacts to an infection, we presume that the presence of antibodies could mean that you have some level of immunity to a virus. However, at this time, it is unclear whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) IgG antibodies will result in immunity to prevent future COVID-19 infections. We will better understand immunity to SARS-CoV-2 as we study what happens to people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies and are again exposed to SARS-CoV-2, to determine if any of them are confirmed to have new infections.

Information about the Plasma Project at Upstate can be found here.

Questions About ISOLATION and QUARANTINE

You can access the online release request application here. The form requires that you update us on any symptoms you may have had. Once this is completed and submitted, be assured that your file is in the queue to be reviewed as soon as possible. An investigator from OCHD will reach out to you to determine if you are eligible to be released.

ISOLATION: An individual who has tested positive of COVID-19 will be placed under an order of mandatory isolation by the Onondaga County Health Department’s Commissioner’s Order of isolation or quarantine. A person should remain indoors at their home location and avoid contact with others at all times, including members of their own household. Monitoring will be conducted by OCHD for these individuals to determine the best time for release from isolation (typically 10 days after onset of symptoms, or 10 days after test date if not symptomatic).

QUARANTINE: Individuals who were directly exposed to a positive case and identified as close contacts are placed under an order of mandatory quarantine, and must remain at their home location at all times and avoid contact with anyone outside of their household until release from quarantine (typically 14 days from last known contact with a positive case).

The OCHD investigation team is tracking all active cases and contacts. Although it is possible you may not be contacted for release immediately, please be assured that completion of the online request form puts your file into the queue for review and you will be contacted as soon as possible.

If you have the ability to access text messaging, you will be signed up for an automated symptom monitoring system through New York State. If you have questions or concerns regarding your symptoms please call your primary care provider.

OCHD conducts an investigation of each individual with a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and identifies others who may have been exposed to them. If you are identified as a contact, OCHD will reach out to you and direct you to quarantine. Continue to practice social distancing and monitor yourself for symptoms.

A copy of the emergency order to quarantine for individuals waiting for test results can be found here.

An investigator from OCHD will describe services available during the monitoring process. When possible, find a friend or family member to make a contact-free delivery of necessities to your home. The Nutrition Assistance Hotline is a resource available and can be reached at 315.218.1987.

In some situations, an individual in mandatory isolation will be released before some of their contacts in quarantine. This is due to the quarantine period being based on a 14-day incubation period (time between exposure to COVID-19 case until the beginning of symptoms). The person must quarantine for the full 14 days until contacted by OCHD and released. If other contacts of the same case have different quarantine end dates, this is due to having different dates of last known exposure to the COVID-19 positive person.

You should consult with your employer regarding your role at your place of employment. In some situations, an individual in quarantine and not experiencing symptoms may report to work as long as they quarantine themselves at home when not working, and follow infection control procedures of your workplace. For more information, visit return to work for essential personnel.

Information about Paid Family Leave for COVID-19 can be found here.

You must remain in quarantine for the full duration in case symptoms develop, and wait until you are contacted by OCHD and released. A negative test result does not guarantee that symptoms will not develop at a later time during your quarantine.

OCHD is not issuing orders of mandatory quarantine for individuals not being tracked by our investigators. If your primary care provider placed you into quarantine, they are responsible for providing the excuse to be out of work.

If you have already been verbally released, you can expect to see a copy of your release documentation in the mail within 2-4 business days. If you requested a copy of your release documentation via email, electronic copies typically take 1-2 days to be generated. Check your spam folder to ensure the documents didn’t get sent to it by mistake.

Testing is not a substitute for quarantine because the test only measures whether you are currently infected with the virus. It can take up to 14 days for an infection to develop after being exposed. For example, someone can be exposed on a Monday, test negative on Thursday, develop a clinical infection on Saturday, and then test positive on Sunday. For this reason, quarantine needs to last for 14 days even if you have a negative test result after being exposed.

Questions About PREVENTION MEASURES

By Executive Order, adults and children over 2 years of age who are medically able to tolerate it must wear a mask or other face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in a public space where a 6-foot distance from others cannot be maintained (grocery stores, public transportation, for-hire transportation such as a taxi, Uber, Lyft, etc.). Employees at any facility must wear a mask when interacting directly with the public.

You can purchase them online or you can make your own masks. Guidelines by the CDC for making your own mask can be found here.

Currently there are no travel restrictions in NYS. If it is necessary for you to travel outside of the area, it is recommended that you monitor yourself for symptoms and continue to follow social distancing guidelines. Please check with the local Health Department of the area you plan to travel to for additional information on their current policies.

By Executive Order, non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are canceled or postponed at this time. In-person gatherings are to be avoided unless they are necessary. While funeral homes and cemeteries may continue to operate given their essential business designation by the Empire State Development Corporation, in-person services should be postponed when possible. If in-person services must be held, the gathering should be limited to only immediate family, with as few persons physically present as possible. Further, funeral homes should prohibit out-of-town participants, unless they are the sole attendees, and maximize social distancing among any in-person attendees (e.g. holding services outside or limiting indoor capacity). In-person funeral participants should be reminded to practice social distancing when encountering someone outside of their immediate household. Specifically, we recommend:

  • Whenever possible, postponing services to a later date.
  • Final disposition, either burial or cremation, should take place as soon as possible.
  • Where available, consider live-streaming the committal or funeral services.
  • If committal takes place at a cemetery, call ahead for instructions, and consider having the attendees remain in their vehicles.
  • At all graveside services, social distancing should be followed.

Questions About BUSINESSES or FACILITIES

You can find current information on essential businesses here.

As we progress through the reopening process in Onondaga County, guidance is available for businesses here. If you have specific questions, email reopen@ongov.net or call 315.435.2210. Information about New York’s plan for regional re-opening and details of phases can be found at New York Forward and see these guidance documents from the CDC on reopening for schools, workplaces, camps,child care programs, mass transit systems and bars and restaurants.

You can issue a general statement to remind everyone to practice social distancing and personal hygiene, and advise to self-monitor for symptoms. You may issue a statement that someone at the facility has tested positive, but may not identify the individual. If you or someone at the facility is identified to have been an exposed contact of a case during the investigation process, OCHD will reach out to you directly and provide further guidance.

Questions About EVENTS or GATHERINGS

We congratulate all the graduates and their families and wish everyone the best for safe, healthy, and happy graduation ceremonies. Decisions around hosting safe and socially distanced graduation ceremonies will remain at the discretion of local school boards and superintendents. Districts and schools may choose to postpone graduation ceremonies, although it is not known when large-scale, in-person events will be able to be safely held. Alternatively, districts and schools can choose to honor graduating students in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of participants and complies with state and local social distancing orders and guidelines. The Onondaga County Health Department understands the importance of graduation ceremonies in the lives of our students and families, and is providing this guidance for public and nonpublic schools to consider when navigating these concerns at the local level.

Questions From HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Questions About Reporting COMPLAINTS

If you feel someone is not following social distancing guidelines, please feel empowered to call 911 to report this complaint.

You can find current information on essential businesses here. To file a complaint through the Attorney General Labor Bureau, visit this page to view a list of topics, or contact 212.416.8700. To report a local business not following guidelines, you may report a complaint using the Onondaga County COVID-19 'New York on PAUSE' Enforcement Task Force Violation Complaint Form.