Close Contact through proximity and duration of exposure: Someone who was less than 6 feet away from infected person (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). An infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for asymptomatic people, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date), until they meet the criteria for ending isolation.
- Exception: In the K–12 indoor classroom setting or a structured outdoor setting where mask use can be observed (i.e., holding class outdoors with educator supervision), the close contact definition excludes students who were between 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.
This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
Public Health Recommendations:
People who are identified as a close contact will need to take steps to manage their exposure according to CDC guidelines. Recommendations for close contacts to quarantine, get tested, and wear a mask after an exposure to COVID-19 will vary depending on vaccination status and history of prior COVID-19 diagnosis within the past 90 days. Follow the recommendations below based on vaccination status or history of prior infection in the past 90 days.
- People who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated should quarantine and get tested immediately after being identified as a close contact. If the test is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after last exposure and continue to quarantine. If symptoms develop during quarantine, they should isolate and get tested immediately.
- People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 5-7 days after coming into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days or until they test negative. If symptoms develop, they should isolate and get tested immediately.
- People who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days and recovered should wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure, monitor for symptoms, and consult with a healthcare professional for testing recommendations if they develop new symptoms.
A number of factors can influence a person’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, including the type, proximity, and duration of their exposure, environmental factors (such as crowding and ventilation), vaccination status, COVID-19 infection in the previous 90 days, and mask use.
Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step that people can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. In some settings, mask use may be a factor in determining close contact, or in determining recommendations for follow-up after an exposure.