I was notified that my child was exposed to COVID, what should we do?
As rates of COVID-19 increase in our area, more and more families are facing this situation. Parents may be notified through school, extracurriculars, or social contacts that they or their children have been exposed to COVID-19.
Families have been asking Willows Pediatrics what to do when they find out they have been exposed to someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 infection. This post will try to give you some guidance. We understand this can be scary and we are happy to talk you through the specifics of your situation, just give us a call at (203) 319-3939.
What counts as a COVID exposure?
According to the CDC, exposure to COVID-19 is defined as having close, prolonged contact, being within 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes, with a person who tested positive either while that person was symptomatic or in the 48 hours prior to that person becoming symptomatic.
If the person who tested positive was never symptomatic then consider any contact with that person within a few days of their test to be a possible exposure.
One of the members of my household was exposed to COVID. What should we do?
If a member of your household was exposed to COVID-19 then that person should quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the positive person. Try to limit the spread of COVID in your household by having the exposed person self-isolate in one area of the house, wear a mask when in common spaces, and have their own bathroom, if possible. Of course, self-isolation is not an option for a young child so the parent should wear a mask around the child.
If the exposed person is asymptomatic, we recommend they get a PCR test 5-7 days from their exposure. Rapid tests have a high false negative rate in asymptomatic people and are not approved for this use. If the exposed person develops symptoms, then a rapid test is appropriate.
We were exposed but tested negative. Do we still have to quarantine?
It is very important to know, a negative test after an exposure does NOT exclude COVID-19 and you must continue to quarantine for 14 days from your last exposure.
Like other viruses, COVID-19 stays in your body and replicates over several days (for up to 14 days). Unfortunately, even a COVID-19 PCR test may not detect an early infection.
For example, if you were exposed on Monday, you could test negative on Thursday, but still be contagious or symptomatic by Saturday. So, even if you test negative, you should still continue to quarantine after an exposure.