What is considered “exposure” to someone who has COVID-19? Once you find out you were exposed, what should you do?

Infection and Spread Staying Safe

A: If you have been in close contact (i.e., < 6 feet away for ≥ 15 minutes) with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 anytime starting 2 days before their symptoms developed and up until the case meets the criteria to end isolation (i.e., at least 10 days have passed since the day of symptom onset AND at least 24 hours have passed with no fever without taking fever-reducing medications AND other symptoms have improved), you are considered exposed.

You are also considered exposed if you were in close contact with someone who has received a positive PCR test for COVID-19 but has not had any symptoms, starting from 2 days before and lasting until 10 days after the sample taken for their test was collected.

NOTE: In the community setting, individuals are considered a close contact if either of the above criteria are met, regardless of whether you or the person with COVID-19 were wearing a mask or other personal protective equipment.

You may also be considered exposed if you have direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids and/or secretions (such as being sneezed on, using the same utensils or caring for someone with COVID-19 without appropriate protective equipment) regardless of duration of contact.

If you have been exposed to a case of COVID-19, CDC states that you should:

-Stay home (i.e., self-quarantine) until 14 days have passed since YOUR LAST EXPOSURE to that individual that occurred before the end of their isolation period

-Maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others at all times (and if possible, isolate all together from other household members to protect them from exposure)

-Self-monitor for symptoms

-Check temperature twice a day

-Watch for fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19 (see here for more info)

-Avoid contact with those who are high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (see here)

-Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop (see here)

-Consider getting tested, but remain quarantined for the full time period and continue to monitor for symptoms even if you get a negative result. If you test positive, follow guidelines for isolation (see more info here)

NOTE: If you live in the same household as a case and cannot avoid close contact or are caring for that individual, you should quarantine for 14 days AFTER the isolation period for the household member who is a case has ended.

See this handy quarantine calculator made available by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department to estimate your quarantine period under different scenarios.

As always, apply the #StaySMART principals in any interactions outside your household to reduce risk of exposure to a case of COVID-19 to begin with!

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