Exposure is defined as contact with someone infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, in a way that increases the likelihood of getting infected with the virus, but a particular type of exposure called ‘close contact’ is of most concern.    An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 2 days before they have any symptoms or, for asymptomatic people, 2 days before the positive specimen was collected.

Close contact exposure results from the proximity and duration of exposure and occurs when someone was less than 6 feet away from a contagious person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).

An important exception to the definition of close contact exposure exists in a K–12 indoor classroom setting or a structured outdoor setting where mask use can be observed (i.e., holding class outdoors with educator supervision).  Students who were between 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time are not considered to have had close contact.  This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.

If you had close contact exposure to an individual contagious with COVID-19, follow these steps:

  • Determine if you should quarantine by following all the instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
  • Review the summary table here.