Contact Tracing and Close Exposures

Contact Tracing and Close Exposures

Potential Exposure Notification: What to know and do

UHS COVID Response Team and EH&S collaborate to comply with CalOSHA requirement for “potential exposure” notification, by identifying and communicating campus spaces that have been visited by a case during their infectious period.  This information is shared on the Workplace Exposure dashboard, with a lag time of 24-48 hours.  We will in addition send more targeted email notifications to class/lab/team rosters in a number of circumstances including where there are challenges identifying close contacts, indications that masks were inconsistently worn, or where there have been multiple cases.

 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  and self-isolate pending results.

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

  • 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 “Next Steps after Contact Tracing,” below.

Contact Tracing: What to know and do 

Along with vaccination and testing, contact tracing is a key tool to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

What happens during contact tracing

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of UHS or to report a student positive case, please call University Health Services to inform our clinical teams so they can offer you support, and ensure those around you receive appropriate guidance.

    • Students who test positive: (510) 642-2000 press option to reach COVID Customer Service Line

    • Faculty/staff who test positive: (510) 332-7192 to reach Occupational Health 

    • Faculty and staff for reporting a student positive case: (510) 642-2000 press option to reach COVID Customer Service Line

  • If you test positive through a UHS COVID test, a member of the University Health Services (UHS) COVID-19 Response Team will call you. Please take the call. (Be aware that the phone number may be unlisted. Text messaging is not available.) 

  • The UHS team member will alert you to your positive diagnosis, provide you with direction and support on isolation/quarantine if needed, provide consultation and appointments for ongoing medical care, and gather information about your recent close contacts, in order to notify others that may have been exposed.

  • The information you provide is confidential, and will only be used for contact tracing purposes. Your name and COVID-19 status will not be shared with close contacts, nor will it be used for disciplinary purposes.

  • Contact tracers will then follow up with your close contacts to provide them with guidance on testing and care.

  • A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, whether indoor or outdoor. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting from 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. A person is still considered a close contact even if they were wearing a mask while they were around someone with COVID-19.

  • If you live in campus housing, your roommate(s) or apartment-mates would be considered close contacts. Other close contacts may be identified during the interview with the contact tracer.

Next Steps After Contact Tracing

  • You should get tested as soon as possible: self-schedule a symptomatic test on eTang reporting symptoms or contact your medical provider as soon as possible; please also contact the UHS COVID Response Team at (510) 642-2000, press option to reach COVID Response Team.

  • Close contacts:

    • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are vaccinated with no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine. You will be asked to wear face coverings in all settings, self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and get tested 3-5 days after exposure.

    • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are unvaccinated, you will be asked to quarantine. You will also be tested 3-5 days after exposure.

    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19: please contact the UHS COVID Response Team by either calling (510) 642-2000 and press option to reach UHS COVID Response Team or send a message through eTang to the COVID Response Team so that they can assess your risk and guide next steps.

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 with no symptoms, you are not required to quarantine. However, if you are unvaccinated and are a close contact, you will be asked to quarantine housing space regardless of whether you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Quarantine for COVID-19 generally lasts for 14 days from your last contact with the person with COVID-19, independent of test results — in other words, you still have to quarantine even if you test negative. Although a negative test result can provide some reassurance, current evidence shows that you need to wait the full two weeks before you can consider yourself “in the clear.” 

Contact tracing explained video

Where to go for information and help

  • Please see UHS testing information. 

  • If you haven’t done so already, please activate exposure notifications on your phone using CA Notify. It’s available for both iOS and Android and is built with the highest degrees of privacy in mind.