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What to Do if You've Been in Close Contact with COVID-19?

Have you been in close contact* with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? If yes, please follow the procedures detailed below. Your identity will be kept confidential to the greatest extent possible.

​*Per the Hamilton County Health Department, close contact is defined as being within six (6) feet of an individual for a 24-hour cumulative period of 15 minutes or longer, and regardless of whether masks were being worn. Close contact does not mean walking by or briefly being in the same room.

Campus Plan - what to do if you come in close contact with Covid-19

Additional Information

  1. Isolating on Campus: Should you become ill or receive confirmation of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and are unable to immediately leave campus, TCAT 31 has been designated as the COVID-19 isolation area for TCAT students and employees. Room C56 in the CAT building has been designated as the COVID-19 isolation area for all non-TCAT students and employees.

  2. You should monitor yourself closely for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek medical advice immediately should symptoms occur.
  3. Notify anyone with whom you have been in close contact since your potential exposure.

Quarantine Timing if Unvaccinated

The Hamilton County Health Department adopted the latest CDC guidance that allows for a reduced quarantine period for persons who have been in contact with a COVID-19 infected person from 14 days to 10 or 7 days. The CDC and the Hamilton County Health Department still recommend a 14-day quarantine period, which remains the safest approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC now allows for:

  • Quarantine to end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms occur during daily monitoring.
  • Quarantine to end after Day 7 with a negative test taken on Day 5 or after, and if no symptoms occur during daily monitoring.

Quarantine may end at these time points only if the following criteria are also met:

  • The person shows no symptoms of COVID-19 the entire duration of the quarantine period;
  • The person continues to monitor for symptoms following their release through Day 14; and
  • The person strictly adheres to these measures following their release through Day 14:
    • Correct and consistent mask use,
    • Social distancing,
    • Hand and cough hygiene,
    • Environmental cleaning and disinfection,
    • Avoiding crowds,
    • Ensuring adequate indoor ventilation, and
    • Self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 illness.

Recommendation for Fully Vaccinated

If you’ve been fully vaccinated and you have come into close contact with some who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

Health Department Role in Case Analysis & Contact Tracing

Contact Tracing

  • According to the Health Department, a “contact” is someone in the household or a close contact (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) of an infected individual. Those exposed to the infected individual would not include everyone who had a class with the infected individual, but rather, someone who sat in the same vicinity, or shared space or surfaces.
     
  • When the Health Department is notified of a positive case, their contact tracers immediately contact the individual or close family members to learn about recent outings, visits, trips, appointments, etc. The contact tracer creates a list of every individual with whom the person has come in contact. The contact tracer notifies each potential contact that they have been exposed to a positive case.
     
  • Contacts undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine are assigned a contact monitor from the Health Department. Contact monitors call people undergoing quarantine daily to monitor their symptoms.
     
  • Close contacts can be tested anytime during their 14-day quarantine if they begin to show symptoms. Otherwise, a close contact should be tested at the end of their quarantine. Note – if tested at the beginning of the 14-day quarantine, the individual will be required to quarantine the full 14 days as the virus could still be in the incubation phase.
     
  • The Hamilton County Health Department will notify both the positive case and any close contacts as to when their isolation or quarantine should end.

Chattanooga State’s Role

When a student or employee has been deemed a “contact,” the College will provide assistance to the Hamilton County Health Department. Assistance may include providing class rosters, seating charts, identities of students who sat near the infected student, identities of employees in shared office space and a list of locations on campus where the infected individual may have visited.  The contract tracer from the Hamilton County Health Department will complete the investigation.

Additional Information

  • The Health Department has a Health Officer who has the authority to issue a “Health Directive.” That person will have the responsibility to police the mandates and quarantines.  That is not the responsibility of Chattanooga State or the personnel of Chattanooga State.
     
  • The Chattanooga State liaison to the Health Department is Bev Fulbright from the Department of Epidemiology, Phone # is 423-209-8194. The phone # for the Health Department Hotline for questions is 423-209-8383.

Isolation vs Quarantine – What’s the Difference?

Isolation – for COVID-19 Positive Cases

  • Isolation means staying home and staying away from people.
     
  • Isolation is used to keep an individual who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 away from people who are not infected in order to slow the spread of the disease. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have symptoms of COVID-19 are to self-isolate for a period of 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or, if they never developed symptoms, from the date their positive test was collected. Additionally, the individual must be free of fever (without fever reducing medications) and must have improvement of COVID-19 symptoms for at least 24 hours before leaving isolation.
     
  • Isolated individuals should not leave home except to seek emergency medical attention.
    • If an individual in isolation must leave home, they should wear a cloth face covering or mask, remain at least six feet from others and, if seeking medical care, notify the facility prior to their arrival that they are currently in isolation for COVID-19.
    • Students and employees who are in isolation are not to be present on Chattanooga State property or instructional sites until the 10-day period of isolation has elapsed.
       
  • Isolation is not optional and may be formally ordered by the Department of Health if instructions are not followed.
     
  • You can reduce your chances of having to self-isolate by wearing a face covering as directed and maintaining six feet of physical distance from others. Reducing your chances of being a close contact is just one of the benefits of wearing face coverings as directed. Wearing a face covering and maintaining social distance protects you, protects others, and helps keep campus open.

Quarantine – for Close Contacts

  • Quarantine means staying home and staying away from people.
     
  • Quarantine is used to keep close contacts (within six feet of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 for ten or more minutes) of infected individuals away from people who have not been exposed in order to slow the spread of the disease. Individuals who have been exposed may become infectious at any time within 14 days of their last exposure to an individual with COVID-19.
     
  • Quarantined individuals should not leave home except to seek emergency medical attention.
    • If an individual in quarantine must leave home, they should wear a cloth face covering or mask, remain at least six feet from others and, if seeking medical care, notify the facility prior to their arrival that they are currently in quarantine for COVID-19.
       
  • Quarantine is not optional and may be formally ordered by the Department of Health if instructions are not followed.