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COVID-19 Help

Welcome to the Dutchess County COVID-19 help page. Please select the kind of information in which you are interested. You will be presented with information that may answer your question. If not, please complete the form below to submit your question and someone will get back to you as soon as they can. Thank you for your patience during this pandemic.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find guidance for operating my business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Information for businesses can be found on both CDC.gov and the OSHA.gov website, as well as the NYS website at Forward.NY.gov
I have a positive at my business or organization, what do I do?
The person who tested positive (referred to as the Index) must immediately leave the establishment and follow directives from the testing facility, healthcare provider, or the Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH). For additional information see "Isolation Protocol for COVID-19 Positive Individuals."

Determine which individuals may have had close contact to the positive person (closer than 6 feet apart for a total of 10 minutes or more) 48 hours before the Index first experienced COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive, whichever is earlier.

Additional information can be found here:
What to do if you or someone in your business tests positive for COVID-19
What happens if an employee tests positive?
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should safely separate from others at home. They should not leave home except for essential medical care or to get basic needs, like groceries, if someone can’t get them for them. They should not go to work but can work from home if they feel well enough.

They must stay home until all of the following have occurred:

  • At least 5 days have passed since symptoms started.
  • Fever has resolved for the prior 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Their overall illness has improved.
Do employees need a letter from the health department to leave or return to work?
No, a positive test result plus the county commissioner’s order to isolate is all an employer needs to let an employee leave work. A COVID-19 positive person is considered infectious for COVID-19 for 10 days from symptom onset or initial positive test result. The employee may return to work on day 6 after completing 5 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms or after the first positive test as long as they are fever-free without medication and do not have symptoms that prevent them from wearing a well-fitting mask. For NYS COVID-19 pay or FMLA, an Affirmation of Isolation is to be completed by the employee. A COVID-19 positive person cannot “test out” of isolation.

The includes employees who have had contact to a person with COVID-19 AND is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms.

Please see our “Paid Family Medical Leave” section for more information.
How do I or others go about getting tested for COVID? Is there free testing available?
Visit www.Dutchessny.gov/CoronavirusTesting
Should employees who had COVID-19 be required to have a negative test result in order to return to work?
No. People should not be required to have a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result in order to return to a work location. Many people test positive long after the infectious period has ended. Similarly, antibody testing should not be used as a criterion for allowing someone to return to work. People who have completed the isolation period are considered no longer infectious and can attend work.
Are employees required to alert the employer if they test positive? Should the employer notify other staff if an employee tests positive?
Employees should notify their employers if they test positive for COVID-19 because it can help keep the workplace safe. As the employer, you may notify other staff or customers that they may have been exposed because they were in close contact with the employee, but you cannot share the name or other identifying information of the employee who tested positive. The Health Department will help you determine who may be a close contact. If the employee has been working remotely and has not had in-person contact with colleagues, the employee has no obligation to notify you of a positive test result.
How can I obtain a letter of isolation / release from quarantine?
If needed for work or school, you can obtain a New York State AFFIRMATION OF ISOLATION (.pdf) or AFFIRMATION OF QUARANTINE (.pdf). These New York State forms may be used as if it were an individual Order for Isolation issued by the New York State Health Commissioner or County Commissioner. The Attestation Form will contain your start and end date, as you indicate, based on your particular circumstances, in accordance with Guidance from the New York State Department of Health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are COVID-19 symptoms?
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
If I have symptoms, what should I do?
COVID-19 aside, anyone with any signs or symptoms of an illness, should stay home and contact their medical provider if symptoms are severe. Since Community Spread of COVID-19 is increasing, individuals should immediately quarantine when experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
How long should I quarantine or isolate?

If you test positive for COVID-19, follow these steps:

  • Start isolating yourself right away. You will need to isolate for a minimum of 5 days according to current NYS DOH and CDC guidance.

  • Stay home except for urgent medical care. Inform your doctor’s office of your positive test result before going to your appointment.

  • Isolation is 5 full days. Day 0 is the day of symptom onset or day of positive test. Day 1 is the first day of isolation.

    • If you are asymptomatic at the end of 5 days, or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask (preferably N95 or KN95) while around others for an additional 5 days.

    • If you are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 additional days after a 5-day isolation period, you should follow standard (not-shortened) 10-day isolation guidance.
  • Individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should continue to follow standard (not shortened) 10-day isolation guidance.

  • Individuals who work in healthcare or other congregate care settings may have different isolation requirements. Please see the NYS DOH return-to-work guidance for healthcare personnel.

  • Notify your close contacts so they can quarantine themselves.

    • Close contacts = those who were within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more total in a 24-hour period, when the person was contagious
    • Contagious = starts 2 days before symptoms appear (or 2 days before positive test if there are no symptoms) through the end of the isolation period.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
Testing is available throughout Dutchess County, for the most up to date list of testing sites, visit www.DutchessNY.gov/CoronavirusTesting

Related Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get a letter for work/school documenting my quarantine or isolation?
If you have completed your isolation or quarantine, please visit www.DutchessNY.gov/COVIDLetter to request your affirmation from New York State. Dutchess County is no longer issuing letters. This affirmation document along with your positive test result and the Isolation Protocols set by the Commissioner of Health (“Commissioner’s Order”) are everything you need.
I’ve tested positive and need documentation for my employer/school, where do I go?
The Dutchess County Commissioner of Health has issued a “Commissioner’s Order” requiring anyone who has tested positive to isolate separately at home for 10 days. This document, along with your test results and the Isolation Protocols, can be provided to your employer/school. Once your isolation is completed, you can apply for a Release from Quarantine/Isolation Letter at www.DutchessNY.gov/COVIDLetter.
Do employees need a letter from the health department to leave or return to work?
No, a positive test result plus the county commissioner’s order to isolate is all an employer needs to let an employee leave work. A COVID-19 positive person is considered infectious for COVID-19 for 10 days from symptom onset or initial positive test result. The employee may return to work on day 6 after completing 5 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms or after the first positive test as long as they are fever-free without medication and do not have symptoms that prevent them from wearing a well-fitting mask. For NYS COVID-19 pay or FMLA, an Affirmation of Isolation is to be completed by the employee.

A COVID-19 positive person cannot “test out” of isolation.

The same goes for an employee who has close or proximate contact to a person with COVID-19 AND is experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms.

Related Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get a letter for work/school documenting my quarantine or isolation ?
If you have completed your isolation or quarantine, please visit www.DutchessNY.gov/COVIDLetter to request your affirmation from New York State. Dutchess County is no longer issuing letters. This affirmation document along with your positive test result and the Isolation Protocols set by the Commissioner of Health (“Commissioner’s Order”) are everything you need.

Related Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

I recently traveled to or from New York State, do I need to quarantine?
At this time, New York does not have travel restrictions. Visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory for the most recent updates. The CDC.gov website also has information for travelers regarding COVID-19.
Where can I get a Fit to Fly document?
“Fit to Fly” documents are not provided by the DBCH, you may ask your doctor to provide this if you are in need of such documentation.

Related Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 – Where do I go?
Visit www.ny.gov/vaccine to get the facts on the COVID-19 Vaccine in New York.
I am a provider who is interested in offering vaccine to my patients, where can I find more information?
Providers can learn more at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-information-providers

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I become a volunteer?
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) of Dutchess County is part of a national network of volunteers dedicated to supporting public health infrastructure and disaster preparedness and response in their local communities. Locally, the MRC is more than 1,700 members strong, and comprised of both healthcare and non-healthcare professionals. Learn more and become a volunteer at www.DutchessNY.gov/MRC

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