COVID-19 Isolation/Quarantine Protocols

UMB has a new system for helping our community members understand what to do in the event of COVID-19 illness or exposure.

Please use the new COVID-19 Report Form to describe your situation. When you submit the form, the system will send you an email with guidance based on current protocols for actions to take if you have symptoms, a positive test, or an exposure. The following guide outlines the advice, based on your role and situation. The UMB COVID-19 Hotline is available at 1-800-701-9863 if you still have questions after submitting your report, if you need additional help, or if you are instructed to call the hotline.

If you are seeking medical advice, contact your health care provider.

  1. I have a positive COVID-19 test.
  2. Assistance with Contact Tracing
  3. I have symptoms.
  4. I am a student who has had a close-contact COVID-19 exposure.
  5. I am an employee who has had a close-contact COVID-19 exposure.
  6. Glossary

If you have additional questions after reviewing this guidance, please email UMBOccupationalHealth@som.umaryland.edu.

I have a positive COVID-19 test.

Return only if fever-free, off medications, and symptoms have improved

If you are an employee allowed to work remotely or a student:

  • Isolate for 5 days
  • May return to work (RTW) on day 6 with 2 negative rapid antigen tests on days 5 and 6
  • If no test available, isolate for 10 days – return on day 11

If you are an employee who needs to be on campus for work:

  • If fully vaccinated with/without booster:
    • Isolate for 5 days
    • May RTW on day 6 with 2 negative rapid antigen tests on days 5 and 6
    • If no test available, may return on day 6 if not coughing
  • If not fully vaccinated:
    • Isolate for 5 days
    • May RTW on day 6 with 2 negative rapid antigen tests on days 5 and 6
    • If no test available, isolate for 10 days – return on day 11
    • Return only if fever-free, off any medications used to reduce fever, and symptoms have improved

Assistance with Contact Tracing

One of the most important public health steps to contain this pandemic is to identify those who were exposed to others with COVID-19, and notify them of this exposure, so they can quarantine and get tested. It is important to do this as soon as possible. Because of the high volume of cases, the UMB team is unable to conduct contact tracing interviews of everyone reporting a positive test.

We would appreciate your help if you are feeling well enough. Please review this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information PDF about how to identify and talk with your close contacts, so they can take steps to prevent further spread.

If you are uncomfortable revealing your positive status to your contacts, you could notify them by using the anonymous contact service Tell Your Contacts.

I have symptoms.

  • Go or stay home.
  • Isolate from others.
  • Seek immediate testing (or, as soon as possible).
    • Preferred PCR
    • Alternative – rapid antigen test times two – at least 24 hours apart. Home test kits are fine.
  • If any of the tests are positive, see above. If all tests are negative, may return if fever-free, off medications, and symptoms have improved.
  • NOTE: if you have symptoms and a negative test early while monitoring after a high-risk exposure, call the UMB COVID-19 Hotline (1-800-701-9863) before returning to work or school.

I am a student who has had a close-contact COVID-19 exposure.

If fully vaccinated and you have also received a booster shot, received a COVID-19 vaccine in the last 6 months, or were COVID-positive in the last 90 days: 

  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child):
    • No need to quarantine if testing is available.
    • PCR test every 3-4 days for 17 days OR rapid antigen tests on days 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
    • If no tests are available, quarantine for 10 days
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature
  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 CAN isolate OR other close-contact exposure
    • No need to quarantine if testing is available.
    • PCR test on day 3 or 4 and on day 6 or 7 OR rapid antigen tests on days 2,3,4, and 6.
    • If no tests are available, quarantine for 5 days
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature

If fully vaccinated but have not received a booster, have not been COVID-positive in the last 90 days, and it has been more than six months since you received the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child):
    • PCR test every 3-4 days for 17 days OR rapid antigen tests on days 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14.
    • Quarantine 10 days, counting day 1 as the first day of illness in the last person at home to get sick. If no tests are available, quarantine for 17 days
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature
  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 CAN isolate OR other close-contact exposure
    • PCR test on day 3 or 4 and on day 6 or 7 OR rapid antigen tests on days 2,3,4, and 6. 
    • Quarantine 5 days, counting day 1 as the first day of illness in the last person at home to get sick. If no tests are available, quarantine for 10 days.
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature

If not fully vaccinated:

  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child):
    • Quarantine 17 days, counting day 1 as the first day of illness in the last person at home to get sick.
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature
  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 CAN isolate OR other close-contact exposure
    • Quarantine 10 days, counting day 1 as the day of last exposure.
    • Self-monitor symptoms and temperature

I am an employee who has had a close-contact COVID-19 exposure.

If you are an employee allowed to work remotely:

  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child)
    • Quarantine for 17 days, counting day 1 as the first day of illness in the last person at home to get sick.
    • If possible, test (one PCR or 2 rapid antigen tests at least 24 hours apart) between days 15 and 17
    • If tests negative and no symptoms, return to work on day 18
  • If household exposure and the person with COVID-19 CAN isolate OR other high-risk exposure
    • Quarantine for 7 days, counting day 1 as the last day you were exposed to the person with COVID-19
    • Test (one PCR or 2 rapid antigen tests at least 24 hours apart) on day 6-7
    • If tests negative and no symptoms, return to work on day 8
  • If no test available, quarantine for 10 days and return day 11.

If you are an employee who needs to be on campus for work:

  • If fully vaccinated with/without booster:
    • No quarantine required
    • Recommended testing:
      • Household exposure – the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child) – PCR every 3-4 days for 17 days OR serial rapid antigen testing (days 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10,12, 14)
      • Other high-risk – PCR on day 3 or 4 and day 6 or 7 OR serial rapid antigen testing (days 2, 3, 4, 6)
  • If not fully vaccinated:
    • No quarantine required IF TESTING IS AVAILABLE
    • Required testing:
      • Household exposure – the person with COVID-19 cannot isolate (for example, if the person with COVID-19 is a small child) – PCR every 3-4 days for 17 days OR serial rapid antigen testing (days 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14)
    • Other high-risk - PCR on day 3 or 4 and day 6 or 7 OR serial rapid antigen testing (days 2, 3, 4, 6)

Glossary

Contact

A contact is being with someone in the two days before they got COVID-19 or in the first few days of them having COVID-19. Please read the Close Contact/High-Risk Exposure definition for more information.

Close Contact/High-Risk Exposure

The person you were in contact with has COVID-19, was not wearing a mask, and you:

  • Were 6 feet or less away from each other
  • Were in contact for a total of 15 minutes over 24 hours (doesn’t have to be consecutively)
  • Did not wear a KN95 mask or N95 respirator

COVID-19 Symptoms

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to update this list as it learns more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Isolation

Isolation is used for people who have a positive test or are infected with COVID-19. This is to separate those who have a positive test or have COVID-19 from those who are not infected.

People who are in isolation should stay home until it is safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).

To calculate your full day isolation period, the COVID-19 day count starts the day after either the positive test or symptom onset, whichever came first.

 

Days of Isolation

Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for asymptomatic persons. Start counting isolation days from the next day, day 1.

Negative Test

A negative test is when a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test or rapid antigen test did not detect the COVID-19 virus. Please refer to the chart for which test result is acceptable in your scenario and how many negative tests are required.

You are not required to submit documentation of a negative test to return to school or work. A verbal or written notice that you are healthy to return to work or school is sufficient.

To return to work/school when recovering from a COVID-19 infection, two successive negative rapid antigen tests 24 hours apart would be the best option. A rapid antigen test is preferred if following up from your initial positive test because it is better at detecting infectious virus particles being present.

A negative PCR test is also acceptable, but note that a PCR test on day 5 could be positive even if the infection has cleared.

No Test

Acquiring a PCR test or rapid antigen test can be difficult in times of high demand and short supply. If no test is available, the CDC has guidance for when it is safe to return to normal activities from a certain number of days after infection or exposure if you are:

  • Fever-free for at least 24 hours
  • No longer on medication for COVID-19
  • Symptoms improved/no longer present

Please refer to the guidance above for the number of days you should be away from school or work according to your scenario.

PCR Test

A PCR test detects the presence of the COVID-19 virus. A PCR is preferred if you are showing symptoms or suspect you have COVID-19 because the test is more sensitive. However, when testing to return to work or school, please note that a PCR test could be positive on the fifth day of recovery even though you are no longer infectious. These tests are commonly used at pharmacies and clinical settings, and results can take as little as 24 hours but possibly three days or more when laboratories are overwhelmed.

Quarantine

Quarantine is used for when someone is exposed to COVID-19, and to monitor symptoms for possibly developing an infection.

Stay home. If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

Please refer to the guide above for the length of your quarantine.

Days of Quarantine

Day 1 of quarantine is the last day of exposure to the COVID-19 positive person. In the case of household exposures, when isolation is not possible (for example COVID-19 in small children), Day 1 is the first day of symptoms (or date of positive test if the person at home does not have symptoms) in the last person in the house to get sick.

Rapid Antigen Test

Antigen tests are commonly used in the diagnosis of respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for antigen tests that can identify SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that can lead to COVID-19 infection.

A Rapid Antigen Test can detect the presence of the virus to determine if you are infectious at that moment in time. These tests are relatively inexpensive, and most can be used at the point-of-care. Most of the currently authorized tests return results in approximately 15–30 minutes.

At UMB, rapid home test kits are acceptable. Please read the UMB COVID-19 Rapid Antigen At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit Guidance for details.

To return to work/school when recovering from a COVID-19 infection, two successive negative rapid antigen tests 24 hours apart would be the best option because it is better at detecting infectious virus particles being present.

The Maryland Health Department is offering free at-home BinaxNOW self-test kits. To receive a free test kit in your area while supplies last, please view the list of local health department contacts.

Serial Rapid Antigen Testing

Some self-tests are designed to be used in a series. Serial self-testing is when a person tests themselves multiple times for COVID-19, or on a routine basis, such as every few days. By testing more frequently, you might detect the virus that causes COVID-19 more quickly and could reduce the spread of infection.

At UMB, rapid antigen tests are recommended for serial testing. Please refer to the guide above to determine which days serial testing should be completed.

At UMB, rapid home test kits are acceptable. Please read the UMB COVID-19 Rapid Antigen At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit Guidance for more details.