Stanford University

Testing Positive

This page has guidance for faculty, staff, postdocs, visitors and vendors. Students should refer to the Student Affairs COVID Isolation & Resources webpage for information.

COVID Reporting Policy

  • Faculty, staff, and postdocs are required to notify Stanford, via Health Check, if they test positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus). This requirement is in place for those who were on campus within the previous two weeks or are expected to be on campus. When completing Health Check, please report your last date on campus, buildings visited, potential high-risk close contacts and date of contact, as well as your test and symptom information.
  • Visitors and vendors who test positive for COVID-19, within 10 days of being onsite, must complete the General COVID-19 Case Reporting Form.
Isolating After a Positive Test
  1. Following a positive COVID test, Health Check will generate an initial recommended period of isolation and additionally notify the medical response team of your submission, who will review and adjust your return to work date accordingly.

    Similar to isolation guidelines from the County of Santa Clara, faculty, staff, and postdocs may qualify for earlier return to campus, on day 6, if they meet the following criteria:

    • Fever-free for 48 hours and with improving symptoms.
    • Rapid-test negative on day 5 or later, from your positive test date or clear symptom onset date, and reported this testing in HealthCheck.
    • Wear a high-quality face mask, when onsite, for at least 10 days after clear symptom onset or initial positive test.

Close Contact Notification
  1. Please notify your close contacts if you test positive.

    For information on what steps a close contact should take, please review this guidance posted on the Symptoms & Exposure page.

Repeat or Follow-Up Testing
  1. PCR testing is a nucleic acid amplification test and is very sensitive and accurate. Nucleic acid amplification tests can detect viral remnants days to weeks and sometimes even months after a COVID infection. Test reporting does not differentiate between infectious virus and non-infectious viral fragments, which is why these tests can remain positive, intermittently, for extended periods. Please treat a positive PCR test as real and take steps to isolate yourself from others. Do not submit a PCR test within 90 days, unless otherwise directed by a member of the Health Check Team or your personal care provider.

    False positives on rapid tests are unlikely. Please treat a positive rapid test as real and take steps to isolate yourself from others. A faint line on a rapid test is an indication that a lower level of viral antigens was detected in the sample, so a faint positive is still positive. However, some rapid tests can be difficult to read, where a faint line can be visible under certain light. If you have no symptoms and no known exposure, and you see a very faint ‘positive’ line, you may consider repeating the rapid test, versus obtaining a PCR test.

COVID Rebound
  1. Some individuals may experience COVID rebound, where symptoms return after 4-5 days of improvement. This is most commonly seen after Paxlovid treatment but can also be seen in those who do not take antiviral therapy. A rapid antigen test is a good indicator of potential ability to infect others; many individuals will test positive for an additional 3-5 days, prior to turning negative again. In this scenario, re-isolation would be recommended.

For Active Stanford Health Care Clinicians
  1. Please adhere to the updated recommendations for healthcare workers at Stanford HealthCare. You need to contact HRT at 650-497-9595 both to report your positive test as well as determine your return-to-work timeframe.

    Please also closely monitor the frequently updated StanfordMed Pulse and CMO Message emails for the latest details about testing, quarantine, and isolation protocols, as they may change frequently.

If you have questions about the Health Check guidance, please submit a help ticket.

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