COVID-19 Exposure Definition, Decision Matrix, and Returning to Work

One of the challenging aspects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a clear understanding and definition of what constitutes “exposure” to COVID-19.

This is an important matter as misconceptions may exist about what “exposure” is.  The CDC’s guidance on the definition of exposure can be found here: .  In short, it is when an “individual has had close contact (< 6 feet) for ≥15 minutes” to a person with a confirmed COVID-19 test or a medical diagnosis of COVID-19, whether that person has exhibited symptoms or not.  The CDC indicates that this close contact for 15 minutes or more is irrespective of whether either party, or both, was wearing a mask.

In addition, here is a helpful decision matrix on what actions you should take if you believe you have met the definition of exposure above: click here. A second resource for this process is from the Jessamine County Health Department and can be found here:

Please remember that employees and students are required to report any exposure (that meets the definition) or positive test to Human Resources and Student Services respectively as soon as practicably possible.  Further, the CDC recommends that anyone who meets the definition of exposure with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should themself be tested.

Finally, it is important as a community that we welcome back, without reservation, those who have been through a positive COVID-19 test and/or illness.  This is at the core of being a community together.  To that point, the quote below from the CDC is helpful in understanding the guidance for a person returning to their work and life activities.  Please review and become familiar with this so that you can warmly welcome back those who have walked the COVID-19 journey.

“You can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others; however, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.”