Guide for Addressing Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Exposures

Updated 5/3/21

1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for addressing a confirmed or potential positive case of COVID-19 at MBL, as well as the criteria required for individuals to return to MBL campus after being confirmed with or having been exposed to COVID-19. The protocol applies to an individual with any of the following scenario conditions:

  • Tested Positive for COVID-19, or
  • Exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or
  • Been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person and are currently asymptomatic

As the pandemic progresses, public health recommendations to protect the community will also evolve. Accordingly, the MBL will be prepared to react to changing guidance from both the State of Massachusetts and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

2.0  Courses of Action for COVID-19 Positives or Exposures

Since COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person through contact with respiratory droplets or bodily fluids, it is vital to ensure infected individuals are identified and isolated until they are no longer infectious. The following protocols are required in the event that MBL becomes aware of an individual matching any of the above scenarios.

2.1  Tested Positive for COVID-19

Any individual who becomes aware that they have tested positive for COVID-19 must not participate in MBL activities or enter any MBL facilities, and if they become aware while they are on campus then they must immediately leave the campus area. Individuals living in campus housing, must return to their housing and will be provided specific isolation information by MBL staff. The individual should immediately follow the communications notification protocol referenced below of the positive test result. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be asked not to return onto MBL facilities until the following criteria are met:

  1. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and
  2. At least 1 day (24 hours) have passed since recovery- defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and,
  3. Proof of a negative COVID test.

2.2  Exhibiting COVID-19 Symptoms

An individual who is exhibiting COVID-19 related symptoms within the past 48 hours (but has not been tested) must not come to work. If on campus when symptoms begin, they should immediately remove themselves from the MBL activity or facility. Individuals living in campus housing must return to their housing and will be provided specific quarantine information by MBL staff. The individual may not participate in MBL activities or enter any MBL facilities until the following criteria are met:

  • a. Self-quarantine for 14 days from onset of symptoms, or
  • b. Provide a doctor’s written release that the cause of symptoms is not COVID-19 related, or
  • c. Consult with healthcare provider and provide a negative COVID-19 test result to Human Resources.

2.3  Been Exposed to COVID-19

An individual who has not provided proof of vaccination at registration and has been informed by the MBL, by a medical/public health entity, or by someone else that they have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive person (including family member) will be asked not to participate in MBL activities or enter any MBL facilities. Individuals living in campus housing, must return to their housing and will be provided specific quarantine information by MBL staff. Individuals may not return into MBL facilities until the following criteria are met:

  • a. Self-quarantine for 7 days with a negative PCR test taken day 5 or later, or self-quarantine for 10 days showing no symptoms. If during the time of self-isolation, the individual is confirmed positive with COVID-19, the individual cannot return onto MBL campus until confirmed as non-infectious as detailed in 2.1 Tested Positive for COVID-19, or
  • b. In the case where the contact was presumed COVID-19 positive, but then through testing was confirmed negative, the individual may return to MBL campus.

2.4 Close Contacts

CDC guidelines define close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

2.5 Communications Protocol

In efforts to make others aware of coronavirus symptoms, it is critical to be mindful of protocols for communicating confidential health information to others. It is illegal to disclose the names of individuals and their health conditions in any written documents including emails or texts. In addition, health information should be shared only on a need-to-know basis.

The best practice is for the individual to immediately inform their supervisor, or MBL point of contact and Human Resources via a phone call or text to (401) 835-8077 or send an email that there is something important to be discussed. Informing a MBL point of contact and HR by text can be done during the evening or on a weekend. The sooner HR is aware of the situation the sooner appropriate safety precautions can be taken particularly as it relates to contact tracing.

Following proper communication protocols will minimize undue panic or confusion and will also protect the individual’s privacy.

2.6  Recently Traveled Outside Massachusetts

See Managers Guide for Travel.

3.0  Additional Guidance

The MBL must continue to adhere to the public health precautions of wearing facial coverings, maintaining social distancing, and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas. By following these procedures there will be a significantly reduced risk of transmission, reduced likelihood of having to quarantine individuals, and a decreased need for disinfection of potentially contaminated areas if an individual is confirmed COVID-19 positive on campus. The MBL’s Environmental Cleaning Services will follow the Guidance for Decontamination of Work Areas Policy if an area is identified as contaminated.

All individuals should be made aware of these protocols and the requirement to report positive cases to the Human Resources Department at Informing Human Resources will enable the MBL to take the appropriate course of action including notifying the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), conducting contact tracing, and/or determining whether additional cleaning or disinfecting is necessary.