What to do if you are in close contact with someone with COVID-19

Determine if you are a close contact

The CDC defines “close contact” as a person who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period. The 15 minutes don’t need to be continuous, just cumulative. Close contacts can be notified either by the infected person, a school, or a health service. (Remember, Massachusetts recently ended its contact tracing program.)

Close contact with a person who has tested positive is recommended to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days after exposure.

And given the surge in cases, it’s best for everyone to wear a mask, especially in indoor public spaces. Several public health experts also recommend upgrading your mask to a KN95 or N95.

Determine if you need to quarantine

Not everyone who is in close contact is required to self-quarantine, according to CDC guidelines.

Adults who have completed the primary vaccination series (two injections of Pfizer or Moderna or one injection of Johnson & Johnson) and who have received a booster dose shot does not need quarantine. Neither children aged 5 to 17 years with two doses of the vaccine nor anyone with a confirmed case of the virus in the past 90 days. (Additional details on quarantine and isolation can be found here.)

If you live with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, here’s what to do.

Find a test

COVID-19 tests are in high demand, making them increasingly difficult to find in the Commonwealth.

Rapid tests gained attention late last year as a way to safely reunite with friends and family and to help minimize the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, kits – like professionally administered PCR tests – have been in short supply for weeks. (A small study also suggests that some home tests may not detect certain Omicron infections.)

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a rapid test, here’s what you need to know, according to an email from Dr Thomas Sequist, Chief Medical Officer of Mass General Brigham.

People who are asymptomatic and test negative for COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test do not need to self-quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and given a booster.

Those with symptoms who test negative for antigen should look for a PCR test or retest themselves with an antigen test in a few days, Mass General Brigham said.

If an asymptomatic person is negative with an antigen test and later develops symptoms, they should be retested.

Massachusetts also has hundreds of PCR testing sites. Here is a list.

Remember that positive home and PCR test results are a strong indication that a person has COVID-19. This means that people who see two pink bands on an antigen sample do not need to take a PCR test for further confirmation, Sequist wrote in the email.

Take precautions if you test positive

People with COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately and notify their close contacts of their positive test result.

People who are high risk for severe COVID-19 are eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment if they have a positive antigen test result and are within 10 days of symptom onset. They should call a primary care physician to be referred to a designated infusion site. High-risk conditions, according to the CDC, include treatment for cancer, diabetes, obesity, age over 65 and more.

People with moderate symptoms, such as a high fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath, should contact a primary care provider.

People should contact an emergency room if they experience severe difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or dizziness, an inability to wake up or stay awake, or skin, pain or pain. pale, gray or blue lips or nails.


Diti Kohli can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @ditikohli_.

Comments are closed.