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Contact Tracing

One of the primary goals of viral testing is to identify infected individuals as early as possible and to isolate them from the broader community. If an individual tests positive, Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) will begin contact tracing for the greater Harvard community. Anyone with known exposure to a positive case will be expected to work with our contact tracing team. Fully vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine provided they have submitted to HUHS a copy of their vaccine record. All other individuals who are not fully vaccinated or do not have documentation on file will be required to quarantine and may need additional testing, as these individuals may also be infected.

HUHS contact tracing process

The contact tracing process includes two distinct processes: 1) to notify individuals who test positive and need to isolate; and, 2) to notify individuals who are exposed to a COVID-positive individual and discuss next steps which may include quarantine.

1) Case investigation for individuals who test positive

For individuals who test positive for COVID-19, HUHS will:

  • Conduct an in-depth interview (typically 20-30 minutes)
  • Educate, support, and identify your needs and barriers to self-isolation
  • Connect and refer you to additional resources
  • Ensure your confidentiality
  • Identify your close contacts during your potentially infectious time period; this may include proximal contacts as well as close contacts.
  • Check in with you daily until your isolation is over
  • Provide you with return to work/school clearance and instructions

Learn more about isolation procedures and support services.

2) Contact tracing for individuals exposed to a COVID-positive person

For individuals who may have been exposed to a COVID-positive community member, HUHS will:

  • Notify you of your exposure
  • Maintain confidentiality for the infected person
  • Educate, support, and identify your needs and barriers to self-quarantine, if applicable
  • Connect and refer you to additional resources
  • Refer you to additional testing as appropriate
  • Check in with you daily until your quarantine is over
  • Provide you with return to work/school clearance and instructions

Learn more about quarantine procedures and support services.

Note: A “contact tracing” procedure would convert to a “case investigation” procedure if the individual in quarantine develops illness or receives a positive test result.