Contact Tracing

Contact tracing can help contain the spread of COVID-19 by identifying those who may be infected and those with whom they potentially have had contact.

How does contact tracing work at Purdue?

The Protect Purdue Health Center employs 35 dedicated contact tracers. Once the Protect Purdue Health Center is notified of a positive case, a contact tracer contacts the positive individual directly. The contract tracing process includes asking about the type, the extent and the length of contact to assess risk levels.

The contact tracer is responsible for the process of identifying, and when necessary, contacting individuals who have been in high-risk close contact with someone who has tested positive with COVID-19. If the person is symptomatic, the contact tracer will try to identify who they’ve been in contact with in the last 48 hours. If the person is asymptomatic, the contact tracer will likely ask who they’ve been in contact with for the last two weeks.

The contact tracers are also incorporating proximity tracing – which is a data tool pulling from existing Purdue data streams to estimate proximity and duration of an individual’s exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Students can expect to hear from both a contact tracer and an academic case manager, who will help ensure the student is able to make continued academic progress.

Who will be contacted?

Anyone identified through contact tracing who has had high-risk contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be provided with health-related direction (e.g., self-quarantine, required COVID-19 testing) by the Protect Purdue Health Center. The contact tracer will not reveal the identity of the person diagnosed with COVID-19.

Those who had low-risk exposure will not be contacted.

Once the contract tracer has collected the data they need, Purdue then turns that information over to the state of Indiana. 

What is high-risk vs. low-risk exposure?

High-Risk Contact/Exposure: A high-risk exposure is defined by the extent of time spent together, masking and proximity: time greater than 15 minutes while within 6 feet of one another AND at least one individual is not masked. After a high risk exposure, fully vaccinated individuals or those who have been infected with COVID-19 within the prior 90 days would not quarantine as long as they remain without symptoms. Unvaccinated individuals would quarantine for 14 days.

Low-Risk Contact/Exposure: Defined as any individual who was around a COVID-19-positive person for less than 15 minutes at a distance of more than 6 feet and wearing masks.

Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer of the Protect Purdue Health Center, provides the following example:

“An example of limited exposure is sitting in a classroom, with everyone sitting forward with a mask on and someone in the room happens to test positive,” Ramirez says. “Your exposure to that person was likely pretty limited and protected.”