Updated: October 05, 2020 at 11:22AM
Contact Tracing, Quarantine, Isolation
The CRU’s contact tracing strategy is integral to keeping our community healthy. The CRU team includes nine contact tracers trained to identify high-risk or close contacts, provide timely notifications, facilitate testing, and offer guidance on quarantining or self-isolating to prevent further transmission.
Our contact tracing strategy allows our contact tracers to:
- thoroughly identify all high-risk or close contacts
- conduct timely notification of contacts in time to prevent further transmission
- ensure resources are available for appropriate medical evaluation of any contacts who are or become symptomatic
- ensure successful quarantine or isolation of contacts during the potential time frame when they may be infectious (whether they are asymptomatic or not).
Clinical and non-clinical contact tracers have completed an extensive training program, and they have developed a standard set of questions for students, faculty, and staff. Please know, contact tracers will respect and adhere to best practices for patient confidentiality. The COVID-19 Response Unit, per public health practice, will coordinate with the county health department, but will not draw on resources from the health department.
Contact Tracing Procedure Overview
If you test positive for COVID-19, or receive a presumptive positive diagnosis, you will be added to the contact tracing system. A contact tracer will interview you to identify any close contacts.
Those who are identified as close contacts through the contact tracing program will be required to quarantine either at home or in Notre Dame quarantine facilities.
The contact tracing team will also check in with those in quarantine or isolation daily to monitor their health and provide referrals for any additional resources or support they may need.
At the appropriate time, the contact tracer can also advise about a “return” telehealth appointment or release.
Testing Close Contacts
Close contacts are not tested immediately because early tests are highly unlikely to reveal anything because of the time required to build a detectable viral load. Those in quarantine are tested via PCR on Day 4, with results available in 1-2 days. If the test is positive, they move into isolation. If the test is negative, they continue to quarantine. Those still in quarantine are tested again on Day 7 via rapid antigen. If this second test is positive, they move into isolation. If the second test is negative, they are released from quarantine.
Quarantine and Isolation
Quarantining is designed to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. The University will quarantine individuals who have had close contact with a person who is positive, or is suspected positive while the suspected positive person's test results are pending. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine. This includes people who previously had COVID-19 and people who have taken a serologic (antibody) test and have antibodies to the virus.
According to the CDC, close contact means:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
The University's protocols on quarantine will include:
- Administering two tests to quarantined students.
- Releasing asymptomatic students in quarantine if they test negative with tests administered on day 4 and day 7. (Testing results times may vary.)
Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. The University will isolate individuals who have tested positive in addition to those who are symptomatic and are awaiting test results. People who are in isolation need to remain isolated until it’s safe for them to be around others. That timeline is dependent on a number of factors; the University follows guidance from the CDC on when isolation can safely end for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
When necessary, the contact tracing team will arrange housing for on-campus students at one of the quarantine or isolation facilities the University has prepared.
The University’s quarantine and isolation facilities include bedroom furniture, bed linens, hand sanitizer, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and a refillable water bottle. Each unit is also equipped with a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, as well as a bathroom with a shower. While televisions are not included, strong WiFi is available. Campus Dining will deliver meals, and students will receive assistance setting up Instacart or Shipt delivery services as needed. Laundry is either available in the unit along with laundry detergent or a bundle service is available through St. Michael’s Laundry.
Off-campus Students, Faculty and Staff
Generally, faculty and staff as well as off-campus students can utilize their homes for quarantine or isolation. However, off-campus students who do not have access to a bathroom of their own and live with individuals who have not tested positive will be provided housing at one of the quarantine or isolation facilities the University has prepared.
The CRU will maintain contact and provide instructions on additional steps as needed.