COVID-19 testing and quarantine guidance

A U.S. Army medic conducts a COVID-19 test on a patient. Photo by Rick Scavetta, USAG Stuttgart.

USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Officials at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart have updated plans for incoming or returning personnel to test and quarantine amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

At a glance

  • New arrivals (PCS or TDY) and any community members returning from travel to the United States (official or non-official) must undergo testing and quarantine once on the ground in Stuttgart.
  • These requirements also apply to personnel returning from TDY or leisure travel via commercial air.  If traveling within the EU or Schengen Zone from a Host Nation-assessed Green Country, testing is recommend, but quarantine will not be applied.
  • All family members may be tested. If you choose not to be tested, there are no exemptions from the 14-day quarantine.
  • The testing protocol is one test upon arrival and another test 5-10 days later (no earlier than day 5, no later than day 10 after arrival)
  • “Working” quarantine status will be applied based upon unit/command guidance. It will still exist for some personnel, but not all.
  • “Working” quarantine is only possible with a Doctor’s Certificate of Exemption from your unit medical personnel or the Clinic for smaller units.  This certificate must be carried by all exempted individuals for at least 14 days. 
  • Those whose units do not permit a “working” quarantine status, as well as non-Service Members who refuse to test, will follow a “full” 14-day quarantine.
  • If you are not contacted by the clinic due to a positive test and you are not symptomatic, there is no medical clearance required to exit quarantine after 14 days.
  • Support for quarantining families is available, whether from the unit sponsor, the volunteer shopper program, or a combination.

 What does a newcomer/returnee need to do? 

1. At least three days prior to arrival, send the Patch Health Clinic an email at the group inbox with the information required to pre-register you at the clinic

    1. Last name, first name, middle initial
    2. Date of Birth
    3. Status (Active Duty, Reserves, Guard, Civilian, Contractor)
    4. SSN or DoD ID number
    5. Marital Status
    6. Note: each patient must have their own SSN or DoD ID number in order to be registered. Patients cannot use the sponsor’s SSN or DoD ID number

2. As soon as you arrive, your unit sponsor should bring you directly to the clinic to get tested. If you arrive after the clinic has closed, go to your hotel room and be prepared to come to the clinic the following weekday at 9:00 a.m. or at noon on Sunday for your first test. 

3. After testing, return to your room and wait for results. Everyone should observe strict quarantine protocol while waiting to test or receive results. Results for Service Members, Civilian employees, and contractors should be available the following day, and those of family members within the next 48-72 hours. Due to the volume of testing, clinic staff will only contact individuals with positive results (as well as their unit sponsors due to possible exposure).

4. The next steps are based on your results and your unit’s quarantine guidance:

a) If positive, you will be placed in isolation

b) If negative, and your unit requires a full quarantine, you will remain in the full quarantine for the 14 days

c) If negative, and your unit permits a “working” quarantine, you can get an exemption certificate from your unit

4. Return to the Patch Clinic for a second test no earlier than your fifth day after arrival and no later than your tenth day. Even if you test negative here, you must limit your contact through day 14 after your initial test.

5. On Day 15 after arrival and after two tests, presuming you are not contacted by the clinic due to a positive test, you may exit quarantine status.

 Receiving results/exemption certificates

  • Test results are protected medical information with strict privacy requirements. Only you can receive them from a medical provider; your sponsor or your spouse cannot get your results for you. 
  • You or your spouse can obtain test results from unit medical assets via Relay Health Secure Messaging, or a telephone consult
  • If you test negative, you can authorize your unit sponsor to pick up a physician’s certificate of medical exemption which enables you to enter a “working” quarantine, if your unit allows it
  • Units with medical assets (EUCOM, AFRICOM, SOCEUR, SOCAF, MARFOREUR/AF, and 1-10 SFG (A)) will get the certificate from their unit medical staff. Some of these headquarters have different standards for when personnel will enter “working” quarantine, so notification is best through unit means.
  • For units without medical staff here at Stuttgart, your exemption certificate can be picked up at the Patch Clinic drive-thru at 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • The certificate of exemption must be carried at all times by all individuals for 14 days after receipt

Strict quarantine

  • Those who must follow strict quarantine orders will not be permitted to enter a “working quarantine” status based on negative test results
  • There are no exceptions to the restriction of movement based on rank or duty positions, nor exceptions for shopping, in-processing tasks, or signing for quarters
  • While under a full quarantine, you must stay in your hotel room or quarters for 14 days. This includes eating in your room (food must be delivered to your room) and coordinating with your hotel for laundry service.
  • Sponsors are responsible for providing life support and procuring necessary supplemental items; the volunteer Commissary Concierge service is also available to support.
  • Under a full quarantine, a single member of the family may leave to:
    • Walk a dog
    • Take out trash (only in quarters; not a hotel)
    • Medical emergency/medical appointment/follow-on testing (must call to coordinate with the clinic so that appropriate precautions are taken during clinic visit)
  • Civilians, contractors, and family members who refuse to test will be assumed positive and will need to complete the full 14 day quarantine with no “working” allowances

Working quarantine

  • A “working” quarantine status is conferred on personnel (who have initially tested negative) by their unit, not the clinic.
  • A Doctor’s Certificate of Exemption will be issued to personnel under “working quarantine” conditions; depending on your unit’s medical capabilities, you will get this either from unit medical staff or the Clinic Drive-Thru
  • The exemption certificate does NOT constitute a freedom to interact normally with the community; it only allows newcomers to do the few things necessary to provide basic life support for themselves and arrival tasks that cannot wait until the 14-day quarantine has ended. Examples include exercising in open areas which allow for sufficient physical distancing and inprocessing tasks such as installation access and getting an ID card for a new employee.

Do’s and Don’ts for ALL quarantined personnel

  • Do’s:
    • Always wear a mask
    • Always physically distance
    • Always wash your hands
    • If you have a working quarantine exemption certificate, keep it with you at all times for the 14 days from your first test
  • Don’ts:
    • Visit places of social interaction or recreation such as movie theaters, bars, nightclubs, dance halls, pools, spas, massage parlors, hookah lounges, etc.
    • Playgrounds, on or off post
    • Gyms or physical fitness facilities, on or off post
    • Sit down to eat at a restaurant (in “working” quarantine, retrieving a to-go order and returning to your quarantine location is permissible when observing all normal precautions)

Essential Item Shopping for Quarantined Personnel

  • Programs are available at both the Exchange and Commissaries to accommodate the needs of quarantined personnel accessing bare essential items.
  • Orders placed through the “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store” option at shopmyexchange.com may be picked up curbside by those under “working” quarantine orders. Families under full quarantine should ask their sponsor or contact ACS to request that a volunteer pick up the items and deliver them to the hotel room/quarters. If an authorized agent (sponsor or volunteer) will be picking up your items, be sure to let the Exchange Associate know.
  • The Commissary Concierge program is also available for grocery needs. Contact the ACS volunteer program for guidance. 

Travel within EU/Schengen “green zone” countries

  • Effective immediately, community members who have traveled by air to/from non-high risk areas in the European Union/Schengen Zone will no longer be required to test or quarantine, in line with host nation guidance. Testing is still recommended.
  • Traveling between countries by POV or rail presents less of a likelihood that you would be sitting next to someone connecting from inter-continental travel, so there is no need to get tested on return unless you are experiencing symptoms

Health protection guidance for sponsors of incoming personnel

  • Risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to contact with inbound individuals is low. Still, it is important that sponsors take measures to effectively support arrival & transition of our new teammates, while minimizing risk of COVID-19 for all personnel.  
  • Sponsors should follow these recommendations:
    • Ensure that all newly arrived individuals use face coverings at all times while in the presence of other people 
    • The sponsor should also use a face covering when in the presence of the incoming individuals
    • The sponsor should maintain physical distance (6 feet/2 meters) from the member/family to the extent possible
    • Avoid shaking hands or any other close physical contact
    • The sponsor and incoming individuals should use deliberate hand hygiene (wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer)
    • Consider helping arriving individuals and families hire transport from the airport (reimbursable PCS expense) to lodging with the sponsor following separately, in order to reduce time spent in close contact 
    • Use disinfecting wipes to clean vehicles surfaces & other frequently touched surfaces
    • If sponsors must drive in-bounds to the clinic for COVID-19 testing, all should wear face coverings to the extent possible & in-bound individuals should sit in back seats if possible 
    • Sponsors providing food and other essentials to incoming personnel should minimize contact when delivering these items, such as leaving items outside the door of hotel rooms
    • Sponsors are not required to quarantine following contact with incoming personnel, UNLESS the in-bounds test positive for COVID-19; follow medical provider or public health guidance
    • Sponsors should, as always, self-monitor for any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills/shaking, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, headaches)
    • if a newcomer tests positive and the unit sponsor has come into contact, the sponsor will be part of the tracing effort, will be tested and will put into isolation, and then into quarantine.
    • In a household where a member returns from CONUS (or any RED country), whether from leave or TDY, the cohabitating family members do not need to quarantine. The returning member should isolate as much as possible within the domicile.

If you have questions about the terms of screening or quarantine, the clinic may be contacted directly at usarmy.stuttgart.id-europe.list.covid-screening@mail.mil.

Clinic Hours: The Stuttgart Army Health Clinic’s Acute Respiratory Drive-Thru is open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Testing is also conducted at 12:00 noon on Sundays; individuals needing testing should be at the site at that time.  Click here for current information about screening capabilities and how to visit.

*VIDEO: Col. Jason Condrey, July 18, quarantine and testing changes

(YouTube must be viewed from non-military networks)