General Lab Information

Protocols for COVID-19 Exposures and Cases

Updated: June 8, 2022

On Dec. 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine periods for COVID-19 exposures and infections.

The CDC has shortened the recommended isolation time for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and updated the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. These updates reflect the current science on when and for how long a person is infectious. The following definitions apply to the protocols below:

Quarantine - Refers to the time during which you should avoid contact with others following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

Isolation - Refers to the time during which you should avoid contact with others following a positive COVID-19 test.

Close Contact - As defined by the CDC, anyone who has been within 6 feet of someone with confirmed COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period is considered a "close contact." That 15 minute/24 hour timeframe begins two days before the confirmed case began to develop symptoms or, if they're asymptomatic, two days before they tested positive.If you have not been within 6 feet of a confirmed case for 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, you are not considered a close contact.

Fully Vaccinated - Current Lab policy requires Lab staff to be "fully vaccinated" unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. Fully vaccinated is defined by the CDC as having completed a two-shot series of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. While the Lab does not currently require booster vaccines for staff, we strongly recommend them for those who are eligible.

Up-to-Date - Beyond "fully vaccinated," the CDC has adopted another classification, "up-to-date," to refer to those individuals who have completed their initial vaccine series plus any additional boosters they are qualified to receive per CDC guidelines. For example, anyone age 50 or older would need to have received two booster shots to be deemed up-to-date, if it has been more than four months since their first booster. These definitions come into play when the OMC identifies a staff member as a close contact of a COVID-19 confirmed case, as detailed below.

1. If you test positive for COVID-19

  • Notify the Occupational Medicine Clinic (OMC) at Ext. 3670.
  • Isolate for five calendar days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five calendar days, you can end isolation with the concurrence of OMC staff but must continue to wear a face covering around others for five additional calendar days.
  • If you have a fever or other symptoms (such as cough, sneezing or runny nose), continue to isolate until your symptoms resolve.

2. If you are notified that you are a close contact

Staff who are up-to-date and are notified by OMC that they are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • Do not need to quarantine
  • Should test five days after date of exposure. Day 1 is considered the day after the individual last came into contact with the confirmed case. Symptom-free individuals can test on site on or after Day 5, and can schedule a test by calling Ext. 3962 or online.
  • Should take a test off site if they develop symptoms, stay home, and report symptoms and the test results to OMC. Note that symptomatic individuals should take a PCR test since rapid tests can sometimes result in false negative results. OMC will then advise the individual as to whether they can return to the site.

Staff who are fully vaccinated (but not up-to-date) or who have an approved medical/religious exemption and are deemed to be a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • Must leave the Lab site and quarantine for five days from the date of close contact. Day 1 is considered the day after the individual last came into contact with the confirmed case.
  • Contact OMC at Ext. 3670 or 3671 on Day 5 for tentative clearance to return on site.
  • Should test off site five days after date of exposure. OMC can provide information to arrange for an on-site test on or after Day 5 for symptom-free individuals.
  • If the individual develops symptoms during the five-day quarantine period, they must get a test off site and report the result to OMC. If the test result is positive, they must stay home until cleared by OMC to return to the site.
  • Upon returning to the site, individuals should wear a well-fitting mask on days 6-10 whenever around others.
  • Contact OMC at Ext. 3670 or 3671 on Day 5 for tentative clearance to return on site.
  • Should test off site five days after date of exposure. OMC can provide information to arrange for an on-site test on or after Day 5 for symptom-free individuals.
  • If the individual develops symptoms during the five-day quarantine period, they must get a test off site and report the result to OMC. If the test result is positive, they must stay home until cleared by OMC to return to the site.
  • Upon returning to the site, individuals should wear a well-fitting mask on days 6-10 whenever around others.

Please continue to notify OMC about any COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results, regardless of your vaccination status.

If you have questions on how to mark your time while sick or quarantining, follow the time card reporting guidance.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing is widely available at this time at local pharmacies, doctors' offices, and walk-in clinics. You can also find an appointment with the NY State Department of Health scheduler.

Updated Time Card Coding Guidance

  • The use of the Weather & Safety Leave (WSL) time card code ended midnight Dec. 31, 2021.
  • If an employee is required to quarantine based on the new CDC guidance indicated above, or isolate as a result of a positive COVID-19 test, use sick time and mark the time card accordingly.
  • See pandemic time card reporting guidelines.
  • If an employee has been approved to work remotely, they should charge the appropriate activity code that they would normally charge.

The Lab will continue to monitor local and regional conditions and federal, state, and DOE guidelines, and CDC guidance, and make additional changes as needed.