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OHIO COVID-19 Protocol: What to do if you test positive, experience symptoms, or are exposed to COVID-19

All OHIO students, faculty, and staff are expected to follow the steps below. 

If you are experiencing acute symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, decreased awareness, difficulty staying awake, or bluish lips or face, call 911.

Positive

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, follow all of these steps: 

  1. Stay home and isolate for at least five days. Do not attend class or any other activities. View Isolation instructions [PDF]. If you have no symptoms after five days, you may return to campus activities on day six, at which point you must wear a mask around others for five additional days.
  2. If you need medical assistance: 
    • Athens-campus based students: call Campus Care at 740.592.7100. 
    • All other students, faculty, and staff: contact your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, visit an urgent care.
  3. Complete a COVID-19 Incident Report Form.
  4. Report home test results. If you tested positive on an unproctored at-home test, report your test result to your county health department. If you reside within Athens County, submit your result. If you reside outside of Athens County, contact your local health department.
  5. Inform your close contacts so that they can monitor for symptoms, get tested, and wear a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19.
  6. Monitor your symptoms. If you are still experiencing symptoms on day five, you must remain in isolation until you are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your symptoms have stopped or significantly improved.
  7. Notify your instructor(s) and/or supervisor to arrange for accommodation(s) while you are unable to attend campus activities.

Isolation Timeline

Day 0: The day you tested positive or developed symptoms 

Day 1: The day after your illness onset; first day of isolation 

Day 5: Last full day of isolation if you remained asymptomatic 

Day 6: The earliest day you are eligible to resume campus activities while wearing a mask at all times around others  

Day 11: The earliest day you can remove your mask around others. Until this time, you may not participate in activities that require the removal of your mask.

Symptomatic

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, follow all of these steps:

  1. Get tested. Contact a healthcare provider to arrange a test/provider visit:
    • Athens-campus based students: call Campus Care at 740.592.7100.
    • All other students, faculty, and staff: contact your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, visit an urgent care.
  2. Stay home and avoid others until you have received a negative test result. View Isolation instructions [PDF]
  3. If your test result comes back negative, you can return to campus activities when you are feeling well enough to do so.
  4. If your test result comes back positive, continue to isolate and follow protocol for positive individuals.
  5. If you need medical assistance:
    • Athens-campus based students: call Campus Care at 740.592.7100.
    • All other students, faculty, and staff: contact your primary care provider.  If you don’t have a primary care provider, visit an urgent care.
  6. Complete a COVID-19 Incident Report Form

Exposed

If you are exposed to COVID-19, follow all of these steps: 

If you are exposed to COVID 19, complete a COVID-19 Incident Report Form and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for exposure, outlined in the chart below. 

An exposure is defined as being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before the positive individual’s illness onset (or, for asymptomatic people, two days prior to their test).

CDC Recommendations for COVID-19 Exposure
Vaccination Status Quarantine Masking Test
Meets CDC definition of “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccinations  No, unless you have symptoms. Continue monitoring for symptoms. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days any time you are around others. You may not participate in activities that require removing your mask.   If you remain asymptomatic, take a proctored COVID-19 test on day five after exposure. Tests before this date will not be accepted, and you are expected to test within five days of this date. If you test positive, isolate [PDF] from others and follow the OHIO COVID-19 protocol.
You do not need to wait for your test result after day five to continue campus activities (masked), unless you develop symptoms.
Documented infection within past 90 days  No, unless you have symptoms. Continue monitoring for symptoms.  Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days any time you are around others. You may not participate in activities that require removing your mask. No 
All others  Yes. Stay home and quarantine for at least 5 full days. Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days any time you are around others. You may not participate in activities that require removing your mask.  If you remain asymptomatic, take a proctored COVID-19 test on day five after exposure. Tests before this date will not be accepted, and you are expected to test within five days of this date. If you test positive, isolate [PDF] from others and follow the OHIO COVID-19 protocol.
You do not need to wait for your test result after day five to continue campus activities (masked), unless you develop symptoms.

Exposure Timeline 

Following is a timeline that explains how to count days after an exposure. 

Day 0: The day you were last exposed to the COVID-positive individual  

Day 1: The day after your last exposure 

Day 5: The earliest day you are eligible to take a test.   

Day 11: The earliest day you can remove your mask around others. Until this time, you may not participate in activities that require the removal of your mask. 

If you have any COVID-related questions, email PHO@ohio.edu.

Definitions

COVID-19 symptoms: People with COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, and many symptoms are the same as the seasonal flu. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms, which include fever or chills, 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, and diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms.  

COVID positive: A person becomes a confirmed positive or "index" case when given a positive test result. 

Close contact:  A close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as someone who was exposed to someone with COVID-19 according to the following parameters: within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before the positive individual’s illness onset (or, for asymptomatic people, two days prior to their test). If you are a close contact, follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol for exposed individuals.  

Contact tracing: During a COVID-19 case investigation, a contact tracer from a county health department might call a case (someone who has tested positive). The contact tracer will inquire about symptoms and all people who may have been exposed (by close contact definition above) during the period that the case was infectious. 

Quarantine: Separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 

Isolation: Separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. 

Up-to-date: According to the CDC, "up-to-date" means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. 

Guidance for Notifying Close Contacts

If you test positive for COVID-19, letting your close contacts know that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 will help protect them and others in the community. Close contacts are at greatest risk of infection and therefore need to be notified as soon as possible so that they can monitor for symptoms, get tested, and wear a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19. 

Close contacts are people you have been around (less than six feet away for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) starting with the two-day period before you first had symptoms OR if you do not have symptoms, starting with the two days before you tested positive for COVID-19 through to the time you started isolation.  

A template is available below for OHIO community members to use when informing close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as an explanation of the timeline for masking and testing if exposed to COVID-19. There is also an online tool available for those who prefer to anonymously inform close contacts of a COVID-19 exposure. You can inform close contacts via call, text, or email. 

Example of What to Say or Write to Close Contacts

Hi. I need to share some important information. I tested positive for COVID-19 on [xxx date]. We spent time together on [xxx date], and I wanted to let you know so that you should take the following precautions: 

  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 full days any time you are around others.
  • Avoid spending time with people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Monitor your symptoms.
  • If you do not develop any symptoms, take a COVID-19 test on day five after exposure.
  • If you test positive, isolate [PDF] from others and get medical care.
  • If you test negative, continue masking for another 5 days.
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate [PDF] immediately and get tested via a health care provider.

If you have questions about COVID-19, contact your local health department. For additional information about what to do after a COVID-19 exposure, visit Quarantine and Isolation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.