What is a close contact?

Jeff CampbellBlog

What is a close contact?

When we talk about containing the spread of COVID-19, we often refer to reaching out to the “close contacts” of a person who tested positive. But what does that mean?

Both time and distance matter. Close contact generally means being within six feet for 15 minutes or more, of the person who tested positive while they are contagious (infectious).

Examples of close contacts include someone you live with, rode in the car with, or had dinner with.

Close contact does not mean: being more than six feet away in the same indoor environment for a short period of time, walking by, or briefly being in the same room.

Examples of not close contacts include a cashier or someone you passed by at a store, or a coworker you briefly passed to ask a question.

The infectious period starts two days before any symptoms began, or for people who didn’t have symptoms, two days before they got tested, and continues until they are recovered.

The average number of close contacts per person who tests positive for COVID-19 in Vermont is three.

Close contacts get a call from the Health Department with guidance to stay home and away from others for a certain amount of time, and are asked to watch themselves for symptoms. Learn more about contact tracing.