Protocol for Addressing Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 Exposures

Evolving Guidance – Subject to Change
UPDATED JANUARY 24, 2022

Purpose

The purpose of this protocol is to identify procedures so that the MBL community can address confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 as operations on campus resume.

This protocol applies to all full or part-time employees, students, visiting faculty and researchers, interns, and visitors, approved to be on campus who have (any of the following):

(1)   Tested positive for COVID-19

(2)   COVID-19-related symptoms but have not been tested or have tested negative

(3)   Been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person and are currently asymptomatic

Courses of Action for COVID Positives, Symptom, and Exposures

There are three scenarios of confirmed, suspected, or increased risk for MBL community members. Any MBL individual who falls within any of the scenarios must promptly self-report to their supervisor, MBL point of contact, and human resources (hr@mbl.edu). Please do not submit identifying information in writing.

COVID-19 Scenario

Must Not Return to In-Person Activities Until the Following Criteria are Met Based on CDC Guidance 

Important Note: To calculate isolation and quarantine period, day 0 is the first day of symptoms, date of positive tests if asymptomatic, or day of exposure to someone with COVID-19. Day 1 is the first full day after.

Scenario 1:

Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 (Isolate)

Individuals can return to in-person activities after**:

A. At least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and

B. The individual is without a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication; and

C. Other symptoms have resolved (with the exception of loss of taste and smell and intermittent cough); and

D. The individual continues to wear a face covering at all times when around others for an additional 5 days.

**If the individual has access to a test, the best approach is to use a rapid/antigen test towards the end of the 5-day isolation period if symptom free (excluding loss of taste and smell) for 24 hours. If the test result is negative, the individual can return to in-person activities and must continue to wear a well-fitting face covering around others at home and in public (and as otherwise required). If the test is positive, the individual should continue to isolate until day 10.

Scenario 2:
Individuals who suspect they may have COVID-19 due to exhibiting COVID-19-related symptoms (Isolate)
The individual should get a COVID-19 test, if possible. If the individual tests positive, the individual cannot return to in-person activities until the criteria in Scenario 1 are met as applicable.

If symptoms are no longer present and the individual has received a negative test result, the individual may be permitted to return to in-person activities. (Note: A negative test result by itself is not sufficient for an individual to resume in-person activities if an individual continues to exhibit COVID-19-related symptoms that are new and unusual, or out of character for their body.)

If the individual is unable to be tested, the individual cannot return to campus until:

A. At least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; and

B. The individual is without a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication; and

C. Other symptoms have resolved (with the exception of loss of taste and smell and intermittent cough); and

D. The individual continues to wear a face covering around others at home and in public (and as otherwise required) for an additional 5 days.

E. If the individual’s symptoms are not resolved after 5 days, the individual should continue to isolate until day 10.

Scenario 3:

Individuals who have been informed by the MBL, and/or a medical or public health entity or have reason to believe that they had close contact with a COVID-19 positive person (Quarantine)

For individuals who have (1) been boosted; (2) completed the primary series of Pfizer vaccine within the last 5 months; (3) completed the primary series of a Moderna vaccine within the last 5 months; or (4) completed the J&J vaccine within the last two (2) months:

A. Individuals who meet the above requirements are not required to quarantine after an exposure, but must wear a face covering around others for 10 days from the date of the last contact with someone with COVID-19 (day 1 is the first full day after last contact with a person who has had COVID-19); and

B. Get tested at least 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19.

C. If the individual tests positive or develops COVID-related symptoms, the individual cannot return to in-person activities until the criteria in Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 is met as applicable.

For individuals who have (1) completed the primary series of a Pfizer vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted; (2) completed the primary series of a Moderna vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted; (3) had a J&J vaccine over two 2 months ago and are not boosted; or (4) are unvaccinated:

D. The individuals who meet the above requirements are required to quarantine for a period of 5 days from the date of last contact with someone with COVID-19 (day 1 is the first full day after last contact with a person who has had COVID-19) and wear a well-fitting face covering while home with others, if possible; and

E. Get tested at least 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19. After that, the individual should continue to wear a face covering around others for an additional 5 days.

F. If the individual tests positive or develops COVID-related symptoms, the individual cannot return to in-person activities until the criteria in Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 has been met as applicable.

Please note the following exceptions apply:

G.     Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 90 days and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again if they do not develop new symptoms. These individuals should wear a well-fitting face covering around others for 10 days from the date of their last contact with someone with COVID-19.

H. Individuals who develop symptoms again within 90 days of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

By adhering to the above protocol, any individual that is confirmed to have COVID-19, has been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and/or is exhibiting any type of symptom will avoid all in-person activities interactions. Please also keep the following in mind:

  • If an individual is unable to wear a face covering around others, the individual should continue to isolate or quarantine for a full 10 days, as applicable, and should not go to places where the individual would be unable to wear a face covering (e.g., restaurants, gyms, eating around others, etc.).
  • Individuals in the above protocols and required to wear a mask around others may not remove their mask to eat indoors while around others. This means in Swope or break rooms or any place besides their own office.
  • Travel is not permitted during 5-day isolation or quarantine period and should be avoided until the full 10 days after the first day of testing positive, symptoms, or exposures.
  • Individuals should be cautious around those who are immunocompromised, at a high risk for severe disease, and other high-risk settings until at least 10 days after testing positives, symptoms, or exposures.
  • Adherence to the public health precautions, including wearing face coverings, and frequent cleaning of hands and high-touch areas serve to limit the transmission and may eliminate the need for any additional disinfecting in areas where an infectious individual may have been on-campus.

As referenced in the Workplace Safety Policy, MBL managers must inform their personnel of these protocols, including the expectation to report cases covered by the above scenarios to Human Resources (hr@mbl.edu). Note that no identifying information should be provided in writing. This will enable the MBL to take the appropriate course of action to conduct contact tracing, and/or determining whether additional cleaning or disinfecting is necessary.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing

As referenced in the Workplace Safety Policy and on the MBL GoForward website, all individuals must fully cooperate in the MBL’s Contact Tracing Program and in any contact tracing program for local or state public health authorities.

CDC guidelines define close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period 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.

Contact tracing will be conducted and those in close contact with a positive individual, per CDC guidelines will be contacted directly. It is important to note that you will not be notified if you have not been deemed a close contact.