FAQs for residents and staff

This page is intended to provide additional information to residents, family members, and staff based on common questions we are receiving. This situation is rapidly evolving, and we will do our best to update our website with the latest information.

Here you can find FAQs about:

FAQs about our response

What agencies are you working with?

We have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), King County Public Health, and Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

At what point do health officials (CDC, DOH, etc.) quarantine the building and restrict all people from coming and going?

We will continue to take instruction from health officials as to how to act. We are following the Governor’s orders and not allowing visitors at this time. There are others who work in our community, such as 3rd party caregivers, who are still able to enter after being screened.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and we have a lot to learn about it. How can you ensure that staff and residents are doing the best they can during this time?

We are doing the best we know how to do by talking to public health officials frequently and communicating with staff often. We are using the best information that’s available and evolving our precautions as we go.

Can you give antibiotics to residents who aren’t showing symptoms just in case?

No, antibiotics do not kill viruses. They only kill bacteria. Additionally, taking antibiotics when not showing symptoms of sickness can do more harm than good.

What are your protocols when you learn that someone in the building has tested positive?

  • If a resident currently residing in one of communities is positive, then we will enact strict isolation procedures for that resident, including modifying staffing schedules to avoid staff crossover to other residents.
  • We will rapidly identify potential exposure and take appropriate action. We will ask all higher risk staff members to stay home. In our screening of staff members, we will find out if they are employed by or visit any other location that serves seniors and advise on additional precautions.
  • We will increase the frequency of proactive screening of each resident to twice a day. We ask if they have any symptoms of illness and take appropriate action. We are conservatively treating any resident with any symptoms listed below as COVID-19 positive until they are tested and we know for sure. We look for symptoms above and beyond CDC recommendations, including:
    • Fever/sweating
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chest pain associated with breathing
    • Feelings of exhaustion or weakness
    • Loss of energy
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody mucus
    • Presence of confusion or changes in mental status, such as confusion, loss of alertness, disorientation, defects in judgment, or strange or unusual behaviors
    • Changes in sense of smell or taste
    • Change in appetite
    • Red eyes
  • We will attempt to notify all resident primary care physicians (PCPs) on record and request that they order a COVID-19 test their patients who reside at our community. We will strongly encourage all residents and staff to advocate for a test through their PCP. We will also continue our efforts to obtain broad testing onsite.
  • We will ask residents to remain in their apartments. If they have a critical need to exit, we ask that they contact the front desk first to discuss.
  • All other precautions will remain in place.
  • We will follow any additional guidance from the CDC.

FAQs about resident safety

How worried should I be about exposure to other residents?

We encourage being informed, prepared, and vigilant as the antidote to worry and fear. We have taken a number of precautions to limit exposure in the event that anyone else in our communities becomes infected.

We encourage everyone to continue to take the personal precautions outlined in previous memos and on this website, including following the Governor’s “stay at home, stay healthy” order.

Are there restrictions on residents who want to relocate outside of the community?

The CDC recommends that people not relocate. One risk in doing so is that it could expose residents to people who may or may not be isolating themselves. We are encouraging the CDC’s recommendation; however, it remains the choice of residents and their families. If you do decide to leave, we request that you first discuss with the Executive Director or Community Health Director.

When residents leave the building, that puts everyone at risk. What kind of messaging are you sending to residents and families? How can you quarantine if it’s not enforced?

We are strongly urging residents to follow our quarantine measures in buildings with positive cases. In all buildings, we urge residents to follow the Governor’s “stay home, stay healthy” order and other public health recommendations for seniors. It’s important to note that we legally we cannot physically keep people from leaving the building.

We are repeating the message that residents should stay in place and also reminding everyone about the importance of rigorous hand hygiene. Additionally, we are screening residents when they leave and when they return to determine if they should follow additional protective measures to protect our community on their return.

What kind of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) does staff use when assisting residents, whether or not they’re ill? Further, what kind of hygiene practices does your staff use in between residents so they do not transmit pathogens?

We are asking staff with symptoms to stay away from the community. We are also asking staff who work at other communities with positive cases to stay away from our communities. Where possible, we are trying to cluster care teams so that they aren’t traveling throughout the building. We have increased our supply of PPE, and we are doing ongoing staff training on how to properly use this equipment. We use gloves with all residents, and staff use new gloves with each resident/apartment. We have been selective about full PPE. We only use it if resident is symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19.

Can you tell us what floor the residents who tested positive were on? What information can you give out?

Unfortunately, we cannot release private and identifying information per HIPPA restrictions. We release all information we can give out without violating privacy.

What should people do who need to go to other doctor’s appointments?

People should exercise extreme caution and only go if absolutely necessary. We recommend practicing social distancing and not using furniture or touching anything while in waiting rooms.

If a resident at a building with positive cases is eager to move and walk, what should they do? Walk the halls, back garden?

Please speak to the Executive Director and/or community health team, who will help determine a plan for how to do this safely without potentially impacting other residents.

At buildings without positive cases, residents may choose to go on walks, and are strongly encouraged to practice social distancing while they do so (remaining at least 6 feet away from others) and avoid touching surfaces.

FAQs about COVID-19 testing

Can I get tested? Are tests available?

At Ida Culver House Ravenna, we received approval on March 10 to test all residents and staff members, and tests began on-site in the evening. This was an extraordinary measure of caution done in partnership with the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), and the situation has changed drastically since then. We do not have approval to do the same at other communities.

When we learned of positive cases at The Lakeshore and The Gardens at Town Square, we began advocating aggressively for broad testing through multiple channels. King County Public Health discourages this practice due to constraints in medical staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) required to administer the tests. That said, we are grateful to get approval to do some onsite testing among a targeted group of residents and staff at both locations. We believe that broad testing is an important protective measure in reducing the spread of the virus and will continue advocating for this through government officials and public health.

Generally speaking, we can request tests for residents and staff through the CDC if they experiencing one or more of the following symptoms: fever, coughing, or sneezing, AND they are also having difficulty breathing or experiencing respiratory distress. We’ve also been conservatively requesting tests for other symptoms, such as change in mental status, in residents.

For family members and others in the community, tests are generally available if directed by your primary physician.

What does the test actually tell you and how is it administered?

The test is only for COVID-19 and will give a positive or negative response. It’s similar to a flu test: a swab of nose and throat.

Will asymptomatic residents and staff be tested? Is it possible that someone who is asymptomatic tests positive?

At Ida Culver House Ravenna, all residents and staff members were given the opportunity to test and were strongly encouraged to do so. This gave us a current snapshot, as all residents and staff did participate. Someone could still contract the virus after testing.

At The Lakeshore and The Gardens at Town Square, we tested a targeted subset of residents and staff.

Yes, a person can be asymptomatic and test positive.

How long does the test take and how long until results are received?

We have typically been seeing results within 24-48 hours of testing.

Is there a test for antibodies? If someone has mild symptoms it would be helpful to know.

The FDA recently granted its first emergency authorization for a rapid antibody blood test for COVID-19, developed by Cellex, allowing people to gauge a person’s immune response to the novel coronavirus.

The serological test—which uses a fingerprick of blood and a small strip, similar to a combination of a blood glucose test and a home pregnancy exam—detects two different types of antibodies produced by the body to fight off the infection. Available by prescription, this can be used to determine whether a person has been previously infected and possibly recovered.

Swab testing also takes days to get a result, but a serological test like Cellex’s – which detects antibodies formed by the body to fight the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus – can deliver a result in seconds from a simple finger prick blood sample and should be cheaper to produce. However, the test may not work in the first few days of an infection, before enough antibodies are produced as part of the immune system’s response.

It is distinctly different from the nearly two dozen diagnostic tests the FDA has officially authorized so far, which focus on finding active infections by sequencing the genetic material of the virus.

We are currently looking further into this testing option.


Media inquiries should be directed to our publicist, Natalie Quick 206-779-0489.

Please note that these pages are not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.