Contact and exposure

COVID-19 is still circulating across the world, so it’s possible you could be exposed — particularly if you are not following social distancing or face covering recommendations. Learn more about being a close contact, what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and more below.

Close contacts

If you are exposed to someone who is or later becomes sick with COVID-19, you are considered a close contact. According to the CDC, you are a close contact if:

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them).
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils.
  • They sneezed, coughed or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

In all of the situations above, you are still considered a close contact regardless of whether you or the person with COVID-19 was wearing a mask and whether you were inside or outside.

If you are a close contact, a public health official may reach out to you to let you know you’ve been exposed and to provide further guidance. It’s also possible that you may learn you have been exposed to COVID-19 before you are contacted by a public health official.

If you’ve been exposed

Remember — being a close contact doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become infected with COVID-19. Regardless, if you find that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, take the following steps:

  • Stay home. Do not come to campus if you believe you may have contracted the virus.
  • Contact the MU Student Health Center or your own health care provider to seek additional guidance on when and how to get tested. MU has the ability to test any student who requires it and return results within 24-48 hours.
  • Continue to quarantine based on the guidance of public health officials and your health care provider.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals: If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.

Who should get tested

The following people should get tested for COVID-19:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
    • People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
    • People who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who are prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who have been asked or referred to get testing by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, statetriballocal or territorial health department.

Contact tracing

Any individual who has possibly been exposed will receive a call from a contact tracer with the date of possible exposure. If you are contacted by a contact tracer follow their instructions, even if you aren’t currently experiencing symptoms. Individuals who may have been exposed should expect to quarantine for up to 14 days.

For more information regarding possible exposure to COVID-19 or contact tracing, visit the Show Me Renewal Contact Tracing Page.

If you are fully vaccinated

If you have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, you are not required to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered within the past three months.

If new symptoms develop, testing and quarantine may be necessary. Contact the MU Student Health Center or your health care provider for guidance.

Based on current CDC and public health guidance, if you become symptomatic for COVID-19 and/or test positive for COVID-19 you will still be required to follow isolation guidelines. Further, you will be required to identify your close contacts, and they may be required to quarantine. While restrictions may continue to loosen, certain behaviors increase your risk of exposure and should you become infected or exposed, isolation and quarantine may be required, but will depend on your COVID infection history and/or vaccination status.