Whether you are learning remotely or on-campus, you are probably worried about having close contact with others.  However, there are certain criteria or situations that qualify contact as “close.”   

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of a confirmed case for at least 15 minutes–regardless omask wearingOften, youll be notified by the individual who has become ill or by a contact tracer that youve been exposed.  

But what all consists of being in close contact besides being next to someone sick for 15 minutes?

Sharing is no longer caring.  

Here’s a list of all the things that are considered close contact: 

  • Sharing a bathroom.  Whether this is at work, in the home or a residence hallsharing a toilet, shower, and even bathroom towels is considered a form of close contact. We all know it’s unrealistic to a personal bathroom while living in college, so make sure to clean your shared bathroom regularly and use your own towels and washcloths. 
  • Sharing utensils, cups, and dishes. Ideally, designate a separate set of dishes for each person that you live with or use disposable dishes and utensils to limit the risk of close contact.  
  • Sharing food obeverages. Don’t share drinks with others and never accept drinks from strangers if youre at a bar or party. Avoid drinking games that involve people drinking out of the same cup, as well.  
  • Sharing blankets or pillows. Sharing your blankets or pillows with someone is another form of close contact. Ideally, you would want to keep your own set of pillows and blankets in your bedroom and living room.  
  • Sharing a vape with others. A vape is a smoking device that someone puts their mouth on to inhale smoke or vapors. Vaping and smoking impact your immune and respiratory system. If you vape, you are 5x more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Right now is the perfect time to quit vaping or smoking, to help decrease your risk of getting COVID-19 (and it will help you save money during these uncertain times). If you do have a vape, keep it to yourself. If you don’t have your own, don’t ask to use others. If you currently do not smoke or vape, now is not a good time to start. 
  • Hooking up with someone. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and saliva. Kissing or hooking up with someone who has COVID-19 will put you at a high-risk of contracting the virus. Learn more about how to hook-up safely during the times of COVID-19. 

You may be wondering, what should I do if I believe Ive been in close contact with a confirmed case?  

The answer is a little complicated. This is because there are several scenarios that could count as close contact with varying degrees of risks.  

Here’s a rundown of what to do if you think you’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case:

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who is being tested… 

Be extra aware and mindful while waiting for that person’s test results, in case you need to quarantine.  

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested negative for COVID-19… 

Self-monitor your health, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often, and wear a mask.  

If you’ve been in close contact with someone (A) who has been in close contact with someone else (B) who might have been exposed to a confirmed case (C) 

Again, with the roommate analogy, this would be if your roommate’s (A) best-friend’s (B) romantic partner (C) contracted COVID-19. However, your roommate (A) has never met her best-friend’s romantic partner in person (C) 

At this point, you’d be fairly removed from the situation, so your risk of getting COVID-19 is very minimalBut just to be safe, continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands often, and wear a mask. 

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19… 

Quarantine for 14 days since your last contact, self-monitor your health, and get tested. Continue to quarantine for 14 days regardless of your test results.  

If you become symptomatic, isolate 10+ days from the beginning oyour symptoms. You’re good to go and be done with isolation only if your symptoms improve and you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications. 

If you’ve been in close contact with someone else who is a close contact of a confirmed case…  

To help better understand this scenario, let’s say your roommate found out that they were in close contact with someone else who is a confirmed case.  

Whether or not your roommate is experiencing symptoms, make sure to self-monitor your own health, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often, and wear a mask.

Now you know how close is too close for comfort when it comes to close contact with COVID-19.

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Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson graduated in 2020 with a degree in Art: I-Design. As a student, she worked with the University Marketing & Communications team as a writer and photographer. She was hired after graduation to support public health communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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