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Exposure and Contact Tracing

Winter Surge Update

If you are a UC San Diego campus employee or student that has recently tested positive for COVID-19, the UC San Diego Public Health team has important COVID-19 health information for you to review:

Isolation Protocol

  • Isolate for 5 days after your symptom onset (or test date, if you do not have symptoms). You must test negative (antigen test) to exit isolation on Day 6. Continue to wear a mask around others through Day 10.
    • The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) or Student Health Services (SHS) will determine release dates and clearance for work.
    • Employees: Schedule your Day 5 antigen test to exit isolation or call the Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260.
    • Students: Follow SHS instructions in MyStudentChart for obtaining a Day 5 antigen test.
    • If your symptoms have not improved or if you test positive for COVID-19 again after Day 5, you must complete isolation through Day 10, and then exit on Day 11. You will still need clearance from COEM or SHS.
    • Do not take multiple tests: you may only take ONE antigen test to exit isolation.
    • Do not take another PCR test for 90 days after your positive test.
    • Stay separated from other household members.
    • Use your own restroom and sleep in a separate bedroom, if possible.
    • If sharing a restroom, be sure to disinfect after each use.
    • Don’t share personal items or food with anyone else.
    • Ventilation (e.g., open a window) will help mitigate transmission.
    • Only leave your room and house in case of an emergency.
    • For academic accommodation, please contact the dean of your college.
  • You can reach the UC San Diego Public Health Case Investigation Team at 619-543-5722. Due to high caseloads, we may not be able to speak with you right away, but we are actively monitoring our voicemail.
  • For worsening symptoms or clinical concerns, please contact SHS or your primary care provider via MyChart (or use the Ask-A-Nurse line for after hours). For medical emergencies, dial 911.

How to Share Quarantine Information with Your Close Contacts

  • Close contacts are defined as individuals (masked or unmasked) that you have been within 6ft of for 15 min or more over the course of a day while you were infectious (2 days before your symptom onset or test collection date).
  • In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, we ask that you notify your close contacts that they need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get tested ASAP.

Here is sample language that can be used to communicate with your close contacts:

  • Text message sample: Hi, I tested positive for COVID-19 and because we were together on [insert date], you need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get a COVID-19 test ASAP. Here’s a link with more information from San Diego County.
  • Another example: “Hi, I need to talk to you about something important. Do you have a few minutes to talk privately? I was diagnosed with COVID-19 (or tested positive) on [insert date]. We spent time together on [insert date] and wanted to let you know that you need to quarantine for X days, monitor for symptoms and get tested ASAP. The Case Investigator sent me a link with more information on quarantine that I can share with you if you want to read it.”

Close contact

students sitting at steps on UC San Diego

The University uses the definition of close contact established by San Diego County public health officials, including but not limited to:

  • If you have been within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period of someone who is COVID-19 infected starting from two days before their illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • If you have had direct physical contact, including unprotected contact with bodily fluids and/or secretions (including being coughed on or sneezed on, sharing utensils, or drinking out of the same container).
  • If you have provided care for a COVID-19 positive person.

Learn about campus safety guidelines »

Non-close contacts

UC San Diego is currently developing a notification for those who are a non-close contact and are registered as an instructor or student for any in-person class where a known positive individual is attending. This information will be provided for transparency and out of an abundance of caution.

Important reminders:

  • Merely being present in the same classroom where all individuals are masked does not meet the public health definition of a close contact.
  • If you do not hear from Public Health, then you have not been identified as a close contact.
    • You should remain mindful of any symptoms you may experience, and continue to complete the symptom and exposure screening daily per campus protocol.
    • Consider taking advantage of the free COVID-19 testing available on campus.
    • Enroll in the CA Notify program if you have not already.
    • Continue masking indoors, per campus safety requirements.
    • Keep attending your classes, labs and on-campus employment.

Exposure notification

students sitting at steps on UC San Diego

CA Notify is a free service that quickly notifies you if you were exposed to COVID-19. By downloading the app to your mobile device, you can continue protecting yourself and help stop the spread of infection. The program is completely voluntary and your personal information and location are never collected. You will only receive alerts if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

If you receive an exposure notification from the CA Notify app or have questions, please visit the CA Notify website.

Have you been exposed?

  • Use the daily symptom and exposure screener tool to indicate that you may have been exposed. You will receive an email/message with a link to schedule a PCR test or you can also call the UC San Diego’s Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260 and a representative will help you determine if you should be tested sooner than your next scheduled test. COVID-19 tests are offered at no cost if conducted at a UC San Diego Health location or a COVID-19 test kit vending machine.
  • Please see below for specific quarantine instructions based on your vaccination status and affiliation.
  • Please note that quarantine instructions are different for healthcare workers. If you are a healthcare worker, you should refer to Pulse for quarantine instructions.

Confirmed exposures

COVID-19 sign at UC San Diego

As a University employee or student, you will be contacted by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team and guided on next steps within 24 hours of the determination of exposure.

If you have not been contacted, it is very likely that you were not deemed a close contact by the contact tracing team. If you still believe you were exposed or in close contact with a person with COVID-19, you can contact UC San Diego Health’s Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260 for further assessment.

*Student and employee quarantine guidelines vary based on your vaccination status.

Vaccination status definitions:

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated? 1) you have received a booster shot and it has been 7 days or more since your booster shot, or 2) you have received a complete initial vaccination dose(s) and you are not yet eligible for a booster.

What is considered not fully vaccinated? 1) you have received a booster shot and it has been less than 7 days since your booster shot, 2) you have received a complete initial vaccine series and are eligible for a booster, but have not yet received one, 3) you did not complete the initial vaccine series, 4) you have not received any vaccines.

Guidelines for fully vaccinated campus employees and students who have been exposed to COVID-19

Fully vaccinated UC San Diego campus employees and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine at home after their exposure, as long as they meet the following guidelines:

  1. They complete the daily screener and they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste and/or smell).
  2. The exposure was 14 days after completing their initial vaccination series (14 days after the second dose of two-dose vaccinations such as Pfizer/Moderna, 14 days after receiving a single dose-vaccination such as Janssen) or 7 days after their booster shot.
    • Employees or students exposed within 14 days of their initial vaccination series or 7 days within their booster, or have not received complete doses of the vaccine, will be required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated campus employees and students who are exposed to COVID-19 will:

  1. Continue to complete the daily symptom and exposure screener.
  2. Be monitored by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team for 10 days following the exposure.
    1. Please expect phone calls from (858) 249-4405 and save this number to your contacts.
  3. Schedule a PCR test upon notification of exposure and on Day 5.  
  4. Must mask at all times on campus, both indoors and outdoors, and must eat alone.
  5. If any symptoms develop, complete the daily symptom and exposure screener, stay home or call the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
  6. Receive instructions for returning to work from COEM or the UC San Diego COVID Response Team.
    1. Please expect phone calls from (858) 663-8205 and save this number to your contacts.
  7. During your 10-day monitoring period, you can attend class, work, campus activities and use University transportation while masked at all times, including indoors, outdoors, and enclosed spaces. The only exception is when eating or drinking, which should be done only when alone and outdoors.
    1. Fully vaccinated exposed students cannot participate in club sports.
    2. Division I athletes may participate as long as their daily antigen test is negative.

Guidelines for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated campus employees and students who have been exposed to COVID-19

Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated UC San Diego campus employees and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 5 days after their exposure. Test upon notification of exposure AND on Day 5 after exposure.

Quarantine may end if:

  • Day 5 test is negative AND
  • Symptoms are improving (or no symptoms) AND
  • Have had no fever for at least 24 hours (that is one full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers),
  • Continue to mask for an additional 5 days (10 days total)

If Day 5 positive: isolate immediately, do not return to work or school, and fill out the daily symptom and exposure screener.

If no test: quarantine for 10 days.

Students and campus employees will:

  1. Report exposure using the daily symptom and exposure screener or call the Testing Support Line (TSL) at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
    1. Students or employees will self-schedule, preferably, a PCR test using the link provided after filling out the daily symptom and exposure screener. 
    2. Continue to monitor and report new symptoms using the daily symptom and exposure screener.
  2. Unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated employees will be monitored by the UC San Diego COVID Response team for 10 days.
    1. Please expect phone calls from (858) 249-4405 and save this number to your contacts.
  3. During quarantine, employees and students are not allowed to return to work or classes.
    1. For employees, COEM will provide Return to Work clearance via email.
    2. For students, the UC San Diego COVID Response Team will provide clearance before students can return to classes.
  4. If you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and develop symptoms during quarantine:
    1. Stay home and complete the daily symptom and exposure screener or call the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260 to speak with a nurse.
    2. Testing for new onset of symptoms will be required and quarantine may be extended or isolation may be required if the COVID-19 test is positive.
    3. Residential students will be relocated to no-cost campus quarantine housing.

What’s the difference?

Quarantine

When an individual has been exposed to the virus, they are not sick and may not have symptoms. Quarantine guidelines vary based on your vaccination status and affiliation.

Isolation

Keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. You need to stay in your residence for 10 days in a separate room by yourself, whether you have symptoms or not. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.

Positive Results

Contact tracing and case investigation activities are only attempted for University affiliated individuals—students, staff, faculty and others working or living on UC San Diego campuses or sites. For all close contacts in San Diego County that are not affiliated with the University, the County of San Diego, Public Health Department will perform the contact tracing.

What happens if I test positive at a UC San Diego Health location?

  • You will be notified of the results and receive guidance on the medical care you may need to manage your symptoms. 
  • A case investigation will begin promptly by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team. A representative will connect you with UC San Diego support and will guide you through determining and identifying who is considered to be a close contact. A contact tracer will then initiate phone calls within 24 hours to your close contacts at UC San Diego, whether they are fellow students, co-workers or affiliates, such as vendors.
  • UC San Diego faculty, staff or students who may have been exposed will be contacted by the contact tracing team and provided guidance on testing and quarantine instructions.
  • The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be notified to assess the need for deep cleaning and sanitizing of any residential areas or facilities, completed by campus partners.
  • Case investigations are led by the UC San Diego COVID Response Team. The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) supports employee medical care, and Student Health Services (SHS) supports student medical care.

Privacy of Test Results

  • If you are an on-site employee who tests positive at a UC San Diego Health location, your results will be shared with UC San Diego’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) for campus employees or Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology for Health employees and School of Public Health Contact Tracing team to support contact tracing efforts.
  • In accordance with applicable law, if you are an on-site employee, your supervisor will be informed of the reason why you are not permitted to work on-site to aid in contact tracing and safety efforts, but will be prevented from further sharing the information, to protect your privacy.
  • All test result information will be stored in the Epic health record system. For information about data sharing and privacy related to test results, visit UC San Diego Health Notice of Privacy Practices.

Campus Health Management Program Privacy Practices »

Reporting Positive Results

uc san diego covid-19 drive-thru testing

If you are a student who tests positive at a clinic outside UC San Diego, please contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.

If you are an employee working on campus who tests positive at a clinic outside of UC San Diego, you must report your result to the Testing Support Line at (619) 543-8260.

Per mandate of the County of San Diego, all positive test results are reported to the County of San Diego Public Health Department.