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Be informed and inform others

Covid-19 Test Results
Number of Cases

Our community members have a strong history of taking personal responsibility related to public health concerns. 

In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, notifying close contacts following a positive test result for COVID-19 is another important step you can take to protect our community, and is the right thing to do.

We recommend the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) COVIDAwareMN app as a useful tool for receiving information from and providing information to close contacts.

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

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Students

If you test positive for COVID-19, we strongly recommend you inform your individual close contacts that they may have been exposed and should seek testing. Please take the following steps:

  1. You may receive guidance from MDH with information and a request to complete an online survey. Completing the survey will help MDH better understand the current state of COVID-19 transmission in our state.
  2. Review and act on guidance about how to identify close contacts and advice for notifying them that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
  3. Inform your instructors or teaching assistants (TAs) of your need to isolate and make arrangements to stay on track with your courses. Instructors or TAs may also help you identify close contacts in your classrooms or labs where close contacts can be identified. 
  4. Reach out to your manager or supervisor if you work on campus to arrange for time off and request assistance with notifying those with whom you have had close contact if needed.

Follow all public health or medical guidance about isolating and taking additional steps to protect others, including staying home if you are ill.

Faculty/Staff

If you test positive for COVID-19, we strongly recommend you inform your individual close contacts that they may have been exposed and should seek testing. Please take the following steps:

  1. You may receive guidance from MDH with information and a request to complete an online survey. Completing the survey will help MDH better understand the current state of COVID-19 transmission in our state.
  2. Review and act on guidance about how to identify close contacts and advice for notifying them that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
  3. Inform your manager or supervisor if you need to arrange for time off or if you would like assistance identifying and notifying those with whom you have had close contact.
  4. Follow all public health or medical guidance about isolating and taking additional steps to protect others, including staying home if you are ill.

Beyond taking personal health precautions, the role of faculty and instructors when notified of a positive COVID-19 case is to support your student in notifying others. For the Twin Cities, Morris, and Rochester campuses, check the Provost’s COVID-19 Response page for instructions on how to assist COVID-19 positive students who notify you. Similar guidance for the Crookston and Duluth campuses is available on their websites.

If you are a manager or supervisor, your responsibility is to support your employees in notifying others. The Office of Human Resources has more detailed guidance available online.

Mass notifications of entire classrooms should not be made unless there is a documented public health reason to do so as reviewed by public health partners in Boynton Health or the Health Emergency Response Office (e.g., there is reason to believe a large percentage of students in the classroom meet the CDC definition of close contact).

What to do if you are notified by someone that they have COVID-19 and you have been in close contact with them

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If you are fully vaccinated

  1. Continue to attend classes and fully participate in all activities, including employment, or
  2. Stay home if you have symptoms. Get tested as soon as possible. Avoid others for at least 10 days since your symptoms appear or until you receive a negative test result.
  3. Without symptoms, get tested 3-5 days after the close contact or as soon as possible if you don’t know when you had close contact. Visit MTest to find out where you can get tested.
  4. Wear a mask indoors for 14 days following close contact or until your test result is negative.

If you are not fully vaccinated

  1. Get tested as soon as possible and 3-5 days after the exposure. Consider regular testing after that. Visit MTest to find out where you can get tested.
  2. Stay home regardless of symptoms. Avoid others for up to 14 days. To find the appropriate number of days for your circumstances, use this COVID-19 quarantine and isolation calculator.
  3. Protect others in your household by wearing a mask, staying away from others, and taking other prevention steps.

Background on this approach

Informed as always by science and the guidance of federal, state, and the University’s public health and medical experts, we are updating the resources and guidance for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 on our campuses. This shift is to aid individuals who test positive in identifying and notifying contacts quickly, which will also complement efforts by public health officials around patient interviews and contact tracing. These decisions also reflect our increased understanding of how and where COVID-19 is transmitted and the important role that vaccines play in mitigating transmission opportunities.

This comprehensive and layered approach to informing others is part of our commitment to protecting public health, including:

  • Reviewing vaccination status and other available data of students and employees on our campuses.
  • Reviewing case, hospitalization, and death data for each campus and its respective community to determine current epidemiology.
  • Providing guidance on notifying contacts to all students, faculty, and staff.
  • Promoting the use of COVIDAwareMN to all students, faculty, and staff.
  • Monitoring and responding as needed to on-campus risks or clusters of positive COVID-19 cases.
  • Continuing other public health prevention and response steps including the University’s indoor mask requirements and MTest approach

 

What will happen if the person with a positive test result has no information about their individual close contacts?

This happens frequently. All members of our community should be aware that given the suspected high level of the COVID-19 virus in all communities, one should assume there are individuals carrying the virus in all small, medium, and large settings. The health risks to those who are vaccinated, however, is extremely low. Those exposed, who become infected, have mild or no illness in the majority of cases.

At the current time, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend notifying close contacts when possible. If that guideline changes in the future, the University will consider adjusting its approach.

In many venues (e.g., dining halls, student unions, large classrooms, and event sites), identifying close contacts is challenging. Broadcast notifications in these circumstances are weak substitutes for targeted outreach and risk undermining the privacy of the health status of the individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Broad notifications without information on the date of possible exposure may also undercut the effectiveness of testing recommendations for those known to be close contacts.

Mass notifications of entire classrooms or facilities should not be made unless there is a documented public health reason to do so as reviewed by public health partners.