Update from Syracuse Area Health - Testing, Diagnosing and Self-Care

You may have heard the terms self-monitor, self-quarantine, and self-isolate, but what does it all mean?  

Below are the current COVID-19 symptoms, testing requirements, and definitions provided by the state health department and the guidelines being used at Syracuse Area Health. 

Given the consequences of widespread transmission, public health authorities nationally are broadening the range of clinical syndromes warranting self-isolation:

  • Temperature ≥100.4°F
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat

To limit potential transmission, if any of these symptoms are present, alone or in combination (in the absence of a known alternative diagnosis), patients should self-isolate.

A clinical diagnosis may be made without lab confirmation since evidence suggests >80% of COVID-19 infections are mild, (fever is variable with COVID-19 and may be absent), might not warrant a healthcare visit or lab test, and do not require hospitalization.  If a clinical diagnosis is made, you will be asked to self-isolate (see definition below).  If testing is considered, Syracuse Area Health will follow the recommended guidance from the Nebraska State Health Department.  Because testing continues to be of limited availability, Syracuse Area Health has adopted the following guidelines:

  1. Priority testing is for inpatients with symptoms associated with COVID-19—will rule out influenza and a Respiratory Pathogen Panel (RPP) before moving on to COVID-19 testing.
  2. Outpatients who are vulnerable/high risk patients such as healthcare workers or first responders (Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement), nursing home, group home and daycare attendees, or employees who have symptoms and have ruled out influenza and the RPP.
  • Your physician or care provider will consider if a lab test is warranted, assessing whether clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 infection suffices, or if laboratory diagnosis is even necessary. Patients with a clear source of exposure (e.g., household member of a known lab-confirmed case) and a clinical presentation consistent with COVID-19 are now a lower priority for testing.
  • Prioritize our limited laboratory testing capacity for patients with the highest pre-test probability (the most severely ill who fit COVID-19 profile) and lacking a clearly identifiable source/exposure, and flu/RPP tests negative.
  • Due to limited testing, we are unable to accommodate general employer requests for employees to be tested before returning to work. 


  • Self-monitor: Monitor yourself for symptoms consistent with COVID -19 infection, including cough, shortness of breath, fever, and fatigue.  Persons with known exposure to COVID-19 infection are asked to check for symptoms including fever twice daily about 12 hours apart.  Persons with COVID -19 infection should document symptoms to enable accurate determination of duration of isolation. 
  • Self-quarantine: Persons with known exposure to a person with COVID-19 infection should remove themselves from situations where others could be exposed/infected should they develop infection, and self-monitor to identify if COVID-19 infection develops.
    • Discontinuation from self-quarantine:  After 14 days, if there has been no development of respiratory illness symptoms.  Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath sore throat, runny nose. 
  • Self-isolate: Persons with clinical or lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection should eliminate contact with others.
    • Discontinuation from self-isolation:  At least 7 days from onset of symptoms, no fever for 72 hours without fever reducing medications, and all respiratory symptoms have improvement. 

REFERENCE:  Health Alert Network Advisory, 3.19.2020 & 3.23.2020