Close Contact Information

What to do if you have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 patient. 

What defines a “close contact?

  • Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Data are limited, making it difficult to precisely define “close contact;” however, 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk), the duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding), if the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was coughing, singing, shouting), and other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors). Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE.  At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended, but the 88 MDG Public Health Team does consider them in the contact tracing process and their recommendations.

In healthcare settings, it is reasonable to define a prolonged exposure as any exposure greater than 15 minutes because the contact is someone who is ill. Brief interactions are less likely to result in transmission; however, symptoms and the type of interaction (e.g., did the person cough directly into the face of the individual) remain important.

Inform your leadership immediately

  • This is a critical action!  Your leadership, or the contact tracer who notified you of the close contact should instruct you start 14 days of quarantine which starts after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The CDC recently released some additional options for quarantine including a 10-day and 7-day quarantine but both of these are not recommended due to the increased COVID-19 transmission risk that they introduce.
  • Patient Tracker UCC Process. Your leadership or designee should place you into the WPAFB ABW Patient Tracker (SharePoint link).  This will ensure that the 88 MDG Contact Tracing Team will contact you to start the contact tracing process.  The contact tracers may advise you to get tested for COVID-19 based on the information given.  However, even with a negative test, you cannot negative “test-out” of quarantine.

If you become sick during the quarantine follow the “I have symptoms” (SharePoint link) instructions and “Return to Work” (SharePoint link) processes.


Directions for use of COVID-19 Unit Control Center Tracker