Ask Dr. Tessa: Exposed to COVID

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"A client I saw yesterday just found out she had been exposed about three days before our appointment to someone who has now tested positive for COVID-19. My client has no symptoms yet. What should I do? Should I shut down for 14 days to make sure I don’t get any symptoms?"

If a client has a known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, I recommend asking them the following questions:

  • Did they spend time within 6 feet of this person for more than 15 minutes?
  • Would they please let you know if they become sick or test positive for COVID-19 themselves?

If they answer yes, if they become symptomatic, or if they test positive for COVID-19, then assess the same factors for your interaction with them:

  • Did you spend time within 6 feet of this client for more than 15 minutes?
  • At any point, were you or your client not wearing a mask?

If this is the case, then you should consider one of two options.
 

Option 1

The most conservative, is to self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the day you were possibly exposed to them. Self-quarantine means staying at home, monitoring your health, and maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet) for others. If you need to be around others, even in your home, wear a face mask. During this 14-day period, you should take your temperature twice per day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
 

Option 2

Monitor for symptoms. Frontline workers, such as health-care professionals (HCP), are exposed to people infected with COVID-19 every day. Obviously, they aren’t in a constant cycle of self-quarantine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends exclusion from work based on specific exposures, which are updated as we learn more about viral transmission. Currently, the CDC recommendation is that an HCP should be excluded from work for 14 days if they were within 6 feet of a person confirmed to have COVID-19, for more than 15 minutes, during an aerosol-generating procedure AND were not wearing the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). I doubt you performed an aerosol-generating procedure on this client, so by my judgment, if you were both wearing face coverings for the entire duration of the appointment and your client had no symptoms, you would be safe to just monitor for symptoms. However, this decision should be made based on the certainty of the exposure, your employer (if applicable), and may warrant a call to your local health department to understand local recommendations.
 

AHP DISCLAIMER:

Please be sure to always work within your scope of practice as determined by your state and to adhere to all local and federal rules and regulations regarding COVID-19 protocols. To learn more about returning to your practice or to access free resources to assist you with reopening, access the AHP Back-to-Practice Guide!
 

About the Author:

Dr. Tessa Crume is an Associate Professor in the Epidemiology Department at the Colorado School of Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her research focuses on the development and utilization of public health surveillance systems to understand the burden of disease. She has been an academic researcher since 2011, before which she worked for a decade as an applied epidemiologist at the state and federal level, analyzing surveillance data and evaluating public health impact. Dr. Crume has taught the core epidemiology class at the Colorado School of Public Health for nine years.
 

HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR. TESSA?

Email her your question at askdrtessa@associatedhairprofessionals.com.

 

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