Division Title
Safety

​COVID Assessment & Testing

Requirements for Persons After an Exposure

The NIH OMS currently defines an exposure as high-risk if the contact was closer than six feet, for a 24-hour cumulative duration of 15 or more minutes to a person who has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, or involving exposure of a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth to material potentially containing SARS-CoV-2. Low (or lower but not zero) risk exposures are evaluated on a variety of factors, including proximity to infected persons, the environment in which the exposure occurred, and the prevalence of face coverings or other PPE. Exposure risk level is independent of vaccination status and is not assessing risk of disease, only of exposure. The guidelines below incorporate assessments of both personal risk and risk of transmission to others. Definitions for terms in this section can be found in Appendix II - Exposure Risk Assessment Definitions.

Personnel with exposures

Personnel that have SARS-CoV-2 exposures will be subject to the following requirements, based upon the risk level of their exposure. The following requirements are mandatory except where reviewed and approved by NIH senior management.


Onsite Staff who have a potential COVID-19 exposure can report to work on campus (no quarantine) as long as all of the following conditions are met:

  • You are up to date with vaccination* or have recovered from confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days.
  • You are completely asymptomatic.
  • You wear an ASTM-3 mask at all times when on campus in the presence of others. Eating and drinking must be conducted alone, as the mask may not be removed for any reason in the presence of others.
  • You comply with OMS contact tracing and recommended testing.
    • If the exposure was high risk, OMS may schedule you for a PCR test through the car line or other for cause testing site at an appropriate post-exposure window (typically ~5 days post exposure)
    • Alternatively, if you have access to an antigen-based test, it is recommended you test after Day 5 post-exposure and repeat the test 2 days later. Report any positive test to OMS at https://ors.od.nih.gov/Pages/oms-covid-screening.aspx.
    • If a is test positive, follow the guidance in the section What to Do if You Test Positive.
    • If a test is negative, you can continue to work but must still wear an ASTM-3 mask for a total of 10 full days after the date of last exposure. Do not remove the mask while in the presence of others, even while eating and drinking.
  • If you become symptomatic, you must assume you are positive until a PCR test determines otherwise. Report your symptoms to OMS. Stay home until advised by OMS to return.
  • If you choose not to be tested, you must quarantine for the entire 14 days instead. If you become symptomatic during those 14 days, you must isolate until 10 days after onset of symptoms.

*According to the CDC, up to date means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. Fully vaccinated means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html for details.



Full Time Telework/Remote Staff Up to Date with Vaccination


For full-time telework/remote staff up to date* with vaccination or recovered from confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days and are concerned about their COVID status:

  • If you have a potential COVID-19 exposure-follow the CDC guidance to mask for 10 days when around other people, and test 5 days after exposure.
  • If you become symptomatic, you must presume that you are positive until an appropriately timed test determines otherwise. Please report the symptoms to OMS via the following webform: https://ors.od.nih.gov/Pages/oms-covid-screening.aspx.
  • If any symptoms are present, try to obtain a PCR or an antigen or at-home test in your community and consult with your physician for guidance. As testing capacity on campus permits, you may be eligible for testing through the Car Line on the Bethesda main campus. If capacity is available, OMS will schedule a test through Carline (For-Cause) testing at the appropriate time; do not schedule asymptomatic testing even if you are asymptomatic.
  • If your test is positive, follow the guidance in the What to Do if You Test Positive section.
  • If there are on-site NIH staff in your household, they should follow the guidance for onsite staff with known exposure appropriate to their vaccination status.

Onsite Staff Not Up to Date on Vaccination with an Exposure to Someone with COVID-19 Must Quarantine and follow all these precautions:

  • Quarantine for 5 days at home, then monitor closely for symptoms until day 10.
  • Fill out the OMS online form immediately. OMS will schedule a test through Carline (For-Cause) testing at the appropriate time; do not schedule asymptomatic testing even if you are asymptomatic. Alternatively, if you have access to an antigen-based test, it is recommended you test after Day 5 post-exposure and repeat the test 2 days later. Report any positive test to OMS at https://ors.od.nih.gov/Pages/oms-covid-screening.aspx.
  • If the test is negative, you may return to work on Day 6, but must wear an ASTM-3 or higher level mask for 10 days. Do not remove the mask while in the presence of others, even while eating and drinking.
  • If you test positive, follow the guidance in the What to Do if You Test Positive section.
  • Personnel that become symptomatic at any time must presume they are positive until an appropriately timed test determines otherwise. Report your symptoms to OMS. Stay home until advised by OMS to return.
  • If there are on-site NIH staff in your household, they should follow the guidance for onsite staff with known exposure appropriate to their vaccination status and contact OMS.

Full Time Telework/Remote Staff Not Up to Date with Vaccination

  • If there was a recent exposure-follow the CDC guidance to quarantine for 5 days and mask for 10 days when around other people.
  • For full-time telework/remote staff concerned about their COVID status, try to obtain a PCR test in your community or perform an antigen (at-home) test, and consult with your physician. Report any positive test results to OMS and follow the guidance in the What to Do if You Test Positive section.
  • Personnel that become symptomatic must presume they are positive until an appropriately timed test determines otherwise.
  • If there are on-site NIH staff in your household, they should follow the guidance for onsite staff with known exposure appropriate to their vaccination status and contact OMS.

Personnel having extended contact with COVID-19 positive people (e.g., a family member or housemate with COVID-19) should consult OMS before returning to the workplace.


Email notification of testing results and surge responses

  • If your on-campus test results are positive you may be notified first via email. At the time of your testing, please ensure that your NED profile includes contact information that you can access at home too (personal email) for faster return of results. If testing through the Carline, ensure that your survey results include the contact information that is accessible to you while you are off campus.
  • During surge conditions with high case loads this email may serve as the only contact that OMS has with you. Follow the guidance in the email for return to work.

*https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html