A Guide to COVID Screening Questions
COVID screening questions are a short series of questions designed to assess the probability that the person answering the questions has a COVID-19 infection. These questions cover symptoms and exposure risk and are asked in various settings where a person infected with the virus that causes COVID is more likely to put others at risk. However, the effectiveness of COVID-19 screening questions varies because some people may have COVID-19 and appear healthy or only have mild symptoms.
Depending on the answers to these questions, workplaces, schools, and other organizations provide a course of action such as COVID-19 testing and isolation. By screening people, organizations can take appropriate actions to protect the health and safety of their community.
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When Should You Self-Screen for COVID?
You should self-screen for COVID any time you have respiratory or other symptoms that are consistent with a COVID-19 infection.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches
- Stomach ache
If you have any of these symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is a good idea to do an at-home COVID-19 test. However, it is important to know that at-home COVID-19 tests are not 100% reliable. If you do the test too early or the test is past its expiration date, you may receive a false negative result.
When Might You Be Screened for COVID at Work?
Your workplace may follow the COVID-19 Community Level Indicators when determining whether you should self-screen for COVID-19. These indicators are based on new COVID-19 admissions and the percentage of staffed hospital beds occupied by people with COVID-19 infections. The ratings are low, medium, and high.
Whether you are asked or required to screen for COVID-19 also depends on your industry and workplace. For example, people working in healthcare facilities, transportation, schools, or jobs that involve close contact with the public are more likely to be screened than those with outdoor jobs that do not require close contact with other people.
Your workplace may use an online app so employees can self-screen, or there may be screening procedures at the entrance of your workplace. Screening questions and temperature checks are frequently used to determine whether employees and visitors are permitted to enter the building.
When Might You Be Screened for COVID at School?
Public health organizations frequently provide guidelines for schools on when screening for infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, is necessary. Like workplaces, many school districts rely on the COVID-19 Community Level Indicators to determine how widespread COVID-19 is in their community.
Schools may also:
- Have regular screening protocols on a scheduled or random basis
- Screen all people who have been exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19
- Screen people with signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19
- Screen students before they can participate in certain activities, such as contact sports or choir
- Screen when necessary to be in compliance with quarantine orders
When Might You Be Screened for COVID at a Healthcare Facility?
Healthcare facilities may base their COVID-19 screening requirements on COVID-19 Community Level Indicators, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, and the current state of their facility. Staffing and the number of available beds may also be used to determine screening and visiting procedures.
Healthcare facilities may screen everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to identify people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or recent exposure before they can enter the building.
Typical COVID Screening Questions
What follows is a list of typical COVID-19 screening questions.
Do you have any of the following signs or symptoms?
- Temperature over 100.4º F without taking any fever-reducing medications
- Loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- New or unusual headache
- Loss of appetite
Have you been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period?
Has a medical professional or local public health official asked you to self-isolate or quarantine?
Further COVID Screening Questions That May Be Asked
In addition to questions about your symptoms, COVID screening questionnaires may also ask about:
- Recent travel history
- Contact with people with confirmed COVID-19 infections
- Participation in high-risk activities (large groups in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation)
In addition to COVID screening questions, some places may require temperature checks and a rapid COVID-19 test.
CDC Guidelines for Someone Who Is Exhibiting Symptoms
The CDC guidelines for someone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms were updated on November 29, 2022, and accessed on May 25, 2023. They recommend that you:
- Stay home and separate from others
- Improve ventilation in your home to help protect others from infection
- Monitor your symptoms and contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns
- Practice good hygiene and avoid sharing personal items
- Wear a high-quality mask or respirator when around other people
COVID-19 was an impetus for telehealth because it provided a way for people to talk to a doctor online and get an online diagnosis without leaving their homes. This helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is fairly easy to find an online doctor on call. Once you talk to the doctor about your symptoms and receive a diagnosis, your doctor may order an online prescription through an online pharmacy. Your prescription can be delivered to your home or picked up at a local pharmacy.
Telehealth is a great option if you are sick because you can access an online doctor whenever you need them. Whether you have insurance or not, you may find that an online doctor visit is a very cost-effective and convenient option for healthcare.
Vaccinations reduce the spread and severity of COVID-19 infections. As of May 25, 2023, the CDC recommends that everyone six years and older get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve received any original COVID-19 vaccines.
People 65 years or older may get an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine four or more months after their 1st updated vaccine. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get one additional dose two or more months after their last updated COVID-19 vaccine.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.