Contact Tracing and Close Exposures

Contact Tracing and Close Exposures

Potential Exposure Notification: What to know and do

 A “potential exposure to COVID-19” is different from being identified as a close contact with a COVID-19 positive case (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, whether indoor or outdoor).  You are likely to be at LOWER risk than an identified contact, and no more than, for example, visiting a supermarket, however this alert should prompt you to take the following actions:

  • Monitor for symptoms and if you develop symptoms, as always self-schedule a symptomatic test on eTang(link is external) and self-isolate pending results.

  • Consider scheduling a surveillance test on campus (strongly recommended for anyone unvaccinated, not yet fully vaccinated or booster eligible but not yet boosted)

  • You do not have to do a COVID test or to quarantine/isolate, unless you develop symptoms.

Please note: an exposure notification through the CalNotify App is equivalent to a close contact notice, not to a “potential exposure.”  If you receive one of these, follow the instructions for “ Contact Tracing: What to know and do” below.

Contact Tracing: What to know and do 

So, you are a close contact – you have been notified through the CA-Notify App, told by a friend, called by a contact tracer, or learned from others that you spent more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19.  What to do?

  • First, if you have symptoms, STAY HOME and self-isolate (double mask around others if you have to leave for essential medical care), and get tested. 

    • You should get tested as soon as possible: you can self-schedule a symptomatic test on eTang(link is external)

    • Stay home until you have tested negative with TWO home antigen tests (separated by 24 hours) OR a single PCR test, unless an alternate diagnosis is found

  • NO QUARANTINE REQUIRED: If you have no symptoms and one of the following applies you are not required to quarantine, but you should wear face coverings in all settings, self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days, and get tested 3-5 days after the exposure (PCR test is best).

    • You already had COVID within the past 90 days

    • You are fully vaccinated AND boosted, or fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for booster (< 5 months since mRNA series, or <2 months since J&J) 

  • QUARANTINE REQUIRED: Everyone else will need to quarantine at home for 5-10 days, wear mask for 10 days no matter what, and get tested 3-5 days after the exposure (PCR test is best).

    • People living in congregate settings (student housing, Greeks, CoOps, residential programs) must quarantine for 10 days, returning to normal activities on day 11, even if day 5 test is negative.

    • Healthcare workers: must quarantine for 7 days, returning to normal activities on day 8, even if day 5 test is negative.

    • All others: you may leave quarantine on day 6 if day 5 test is negative and you remain asymptomatic.

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (both those who are sick with COVID-19 and those without symptoms) from people who are not infected.  Isolation for COVID-19 generally lasts for no more than 10 days, requiring in addition that you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and have improvement in any symptoms. Exceptions may apply when someone is seriously ill or has serious underlying medical conditions. 

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been infected with COVID-19 away from others. As noted above, if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are vaccinated/booster with no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine. However, if you are incompletely vaccinated and are a close contact, you must quarantine regardless of whether you have COVID-19 symptoms.