/ Campus Health

COVID-19 Exposure

Last updated: August 17, 2020

Exposure and “Close Contact”

How would I have been exposed to COVID-19? 

Exposure to COVID-19 often occurs through “close contact.” Close contact is defined as:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more
  • Providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Having direct physical contact with the person (hugging or kissing them)
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils
  • Having inhaled respiratory droplets from someone who has COVID-19, by being sneezed on, coughed on, etc.
I think I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19. What should I do?

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Was I within 6 feet of them for a total of 15 minutes or more?
  • Did I provide them with care at home?
  • Did I have direct physical contact with them (e.g., hugged or kissed them)?
  • Did we share eating or drinking utensils?
  • Did they sneeze or cough on me?

If you answered “no” to all these questions, you are not considered a “close contact” and therefore are not considered to be at high risk of exposure. Please continue the normal protocol of monitoring yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis; if you experience symptoms, contact your health provider.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please continue reading below.

I had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and now I’m sick. What should I do?
  • Contact your healthcare provider and follow their instructions. Tell your healthcare provider that you had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and are now sick. Your healthcare provider will determine if you should get tested. (Students, your healthcare provider is the Hope College Health Center.)
  • Self-quarantine until you get direction. Stay home and do not go to campus (classes, offices, dining halls, etc.) until you get direction from your healthcare provider. Continue wearing a face covering and keeping a 6-foot distance from others; for students living on campus practice these safeguards in the presence of roommates and residential cohorts until you receive instruction. If you have been confirmed as a close contact, visit the “What happens if I’m a close contact” page and the “What happens when I have a positive test” page to understand what you can expect.

  • Employees: Notify Human Resources and your supervisor. Contact Human Resources (hr@hope.edu) right away to notify them that you may be a close contact. Communicate with your supervisor(s) to let them know you may be absent from work. You may be able to continue working remotely; discuss this with your supervisor.

  • Respond to communications from the local health department. A positive case prompts a contact-tracing investigation by the local health department. If the Ottawa County Department of Public Health calls or texts you, respond immediately. They will provide further instruction if your test is positive and/or if you have been identified as a close contact. If you have been identified as a close contact, they will not reveal who shared your name. If you test positive, they will not share your name with others.

  • Monitor your symptoms. Continue checking yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 but I am not sick. What should I do?

If you have been within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 or more minutes, and you are not sick:

  • Contact your healthcare provider and follow their instructions. Tell your healthcare provider that you had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and are now sick. Your healthcare provider will determine if you should get tested. (Students, your healthcare provider is the Hope College Health Center.)

  • Self-quarantine until you get direction. Stay home and do not go to campus (classes, offices, dining halls, etc.) until you get direction from your healthcare provider. Continue wearing a face covering and keeping a 6-foot distance from others; for students living on campus practice these safeguards in the presence of roommates and residential cohorts until you receive instruction. If you have been confirmed as a close contact, visit the “What happens if I’m a close contact” page and the “What happens when I have a positive test” page to understand what you can expect.

  • Employees: Notify Human Resources and your supervisor. Contact Human Resources (hr@hope.edu) right away to notify them that you may be a close contact. Communicate with your supervisor(s) to let them know you may be absent from work. You may be able to continue working remotely; discuss this with your supervisor.

  • Respond to communications from the local health department. A positive case prompts a contact-tracing investigation by the local health department. If the Ottawa County Department of Public Health calls or texts you, respond immediately. They will provide further instruction if your test is positive and/or if you have been identified as a close contact. If you have been identified as a close contact, they will not reveal who shared your name. If you test positive, they will not share your name with others.

  • Monitor your symptoms. Continue checking yourself for symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
I had close contact with someone who suspects they have COVID-19 but has not been tested. What should I do?

If you are identified as a close contact, you will be formally notified by the local health department and possibly the college. Your close friends and family are not considered close contacts just because they have had contact with you. If you are concerned about having had close contact with someone who may have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that a “contact-to-a-contact” does not need to be tested nor do they need to quarantine unless they are experiencing symptoms, in which case they should notify their healthcare provider right away. If you are worried about being a close contact to a close contact, continue the normal protocol of monitoring yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis; if you experience symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away. (Students, your healthcare provider is the Hope College Health Center.)

I haven’t had “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19, but I’m worried because I’m in the same department, office or classroom as them.

It’s a common but incorrect assumption that, because you were in the same department, office or instructional space with a person who has COVID-19, you will be required to quarantine. If you did not have close contact with the person, you will not need to quarantine or take additional measures unless you are otherwise instructed by the local health department. Please continue the normal protocol of monitoring yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis; if you experience symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away. (Students, your healthcare provider is the Hope College Health Center.)

Remember, you greatly reduce your risk of transmitting and contracting the virus if you:

  • Wear a face covering. Hope College requires that all students, employees and visitors wear a covering over their nose and mouth at all times while on campus unless they are: 1) in their private living space; or 2) the sole occupant of an enclosed office; or 3) outdoors and continually more than six feet from every other person. 
  • Maintain six-foot distance. Keep a distance of at least six feet between you and other individuals, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wash your hands. Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Clean your space. Keep personal and shared workspaces clean and sanitized.
  • Complete the daily screening form everyday before you leave for work. If you cannot successfully submit the daily self-screening form, do not come to work.
What happens during a contact tracing investigation?

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the local health department is notified and immediately begins a contact tracing investigation. You will be part of the contact tracing process if you tested positive for COVID-19 or if you came into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Please always answer a communication from the health department, as the contact tracing process is critical to our ability to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a helpful overview of the contact tracing process.

Notification Policy

Hope College will not publicly disclose the name of any student or employee who has a diagnosed or presumed positive case of COVID-19, even if that person has shared their diagnosis with others on campus.

Per Michigan’s executive orders, when we learn about an employee testing positive, we will:

  • Contact the local health department to notify them of the positive test.
  • Notify any co-workers, contractors or suppliers who may have come into contact with the person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. To maintain privacy, we will not include the name of the person who tested positive.

The local health department will issue a subsequent notification to individuals who are reported to have had “close contact” with the person with COVID-19. This notification happens during a contact-tracing investigation, which is prompted by a positive test.