University Occupational Health Service COVID 19 FAQ
University Occupational Health Service COVID 19 FAQ
What defines a COVID 19 case?
A person with a positive COVID 19 viral test or a person with known exposure to COVID 19 who develops symptoms consistent with the disease.
What defines "close contact"?
We used the CDC definition of close contact which is spending >15 minutes within 6 feet of a person who tested positive for COVID either after they developed symptoms or in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms. While cloth face coverings are important and helpful, they are not PPE and do not influence the definition of a close contact.
Does USU do contact tracing?
University Occupational Health Service performs contact tracing of work contacts. The responsible public health department handles contact tracing for personal contacts.
What does a contact need to do?
Contacts of a COVID case who meet the above definitions should self-isolate for 14 days.
What does a contact of a contact need to do?
Contacts of contacts do not need to do anything different than the general population if they are able to isolate from the contact.
Does viral testing help after someone learns they are a contact?
A positive viral test would diagnose COVID in a contact, but would not be expected to be positive for at least a few days after exposure. A negative test does not mean a contact will not develop COVID in the future, so does not change the 14 day isolation. Testing a contact who develops symptoms is appropriate as a positive test would indicate they are now a case and potentially identify a new circle of contacts who need to isolate. (But keep in mind that if they have isolated as directed for more than 48 hours before becoming ill, there will be no new contacts.)
What should a supervisor do when they learn an employee has been diagnosed with COVID?
- Ensure the employee is off campus or leaving via a direct route.
- Help identify the locations the employee spent more than 15 minutes in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms. (or 48 hours before the positive test if the employee never had symptoms).
- Close those areas to access for 24 hours if possible.
- Help identify any work contacts of the employee in the same 48 hour period.
- Alert Occupational Health of the case with contact information for the employee. Employeehealthquestions@usuhs.edu
- Identify if the areas of concern can remain closed for 7 days or need to be decontaminated for use after the initial 24 hours.
I got tested for COVID 19 because of symptoms. What should I do?
You should have received directions at the testing site which would include self-isolation until the results are back. If they are positive, you will need to complete at least 10 days of isolation and possible longer based on your symptoms. Even if your test is negative you should use caution about returning to work. Don't come to work with a fever or worsening respiratory symptoms even if your test was negative.
Is it possible to not be a contact with that level of interaction?
Yes! Healthcare workers (and medical students) who are wearing appropriate PPE to include surgical masks and eye protection for standard interactions would not be considered contacts even if they spent 15 minutes within 6 feet of a COVID patient. Some procedures require a higher level of PPE and the appropriate PPE must be worn for the specific activity to satisfy this requirement.
I got tested because I was identified as a contact. What should I do?
You should have received directions at the testing site which would include self-isolation for 14 days. A negative test after a contact does not change the duration of 14 days self-isolation in the vast majority of situations. (life and limb or national security level issues may change it.)
What's the difference between occupational health, military public health, and Montgomery County public health?
There is certainly redundancy in the system leading to cases and contacts being contacted by several people. The University Occupational Health Service is concerned about you as a student or employee and about the safety of the workplace. Of course we care about your family and friends, but we don't have authority to provide them care for non-work related matters. Primarily we look to determine if a workplace was the source of an outbreak and work to mitigate harm.
Military Public Health is primarily responsible for the health of the military health system beneficiary population. They will be concerned with contact tracing among active duty, retirees, and dependents. They will provide care and guidance for those under their care and will report their findings to Montgomery County Public Health.
Montgomery County Public Health is considering this situation from a regional level. They will connect nonbeneficiaries to resources and handle contacts who are not eligible for care in the MHS.
I've been informed I'm a COVID contact. What should I tell my family and friends? Who do I have to notify?
You should notify your supervisor and occupational health if they are not already aware. As a contact you will be expected to do 14 days of isolation so what you tell your family and friends depends on your need to interact with them in the next 2 weeks. Most likely your family and friends are not at risk of getting COVID from you even if it's been a few days since your contact with a positive person.
Remember that COVID is primarily spread by respiratory droplets from an infectious person. There is an average incubation period of 5 days after someone gets infected with COVID. Individuals are not infectious during the incubation period. If you isolate yourself within a few days of your contact, you will not transmit the virus to anyone else even if you become infected.
Every situation is different and we're available to talk to you about yours if that would be helpful.
COVID-19 symptom screener for USUHS group activities