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Infection Prevention FAQs on Close Contacts, Exposure, & More

Posted Dec 2, 20203 min Read

Regulatory & Clinical

Please Note:  On December 2, 2020, this article was updated with recent changes in the Infection Prevention FAQs, which can be found here

The updated FAQs make clear that as of November 20, 2020, the Indiana Department of Health (IDH) determined that facilities may move to crisis capacity for gown usage in Transmission-Based Precautions and that conversation practices for gowns may be utilized in line with the IDH’s Infection Control Guidelines.  If gown conservation is necessary in a Red Unit, then extended gown use may be used for all residents in the Red Unit, although single gown use should be prioritized for aerosol activities / where splashes, sprays, or transfers of pathogens are expected to occur.  If gown conservation is necessary in the Yellow Unit, then gowns may be hung on the inside of each resident’s door and used throughout the shift by the same staff member for the same resident; washable gowns are encouraged for this conservation practice.  When residents are sheltering in place, awaiting test results, and become symptomatic, then single-use gowns should be used per the Infection Control Guidelines.

On November 19, 2020, the IDH issued Infection Prevention FAQs for all long-term care facilities, which can found in full here.  IDH’s FAQ document addresses close contacts and exposures, transmission-based precautions with regard to barrier walls, and environmental controls.  We encourage all long-term care facilities to review this FAQ document carefully.

With regard to exposures, if a staff member was at work 48 hours prior to symptom onset or specimen collection of a COVID-positive test and spent at least 15 minutes with a resident within 6 feet, the resident is a “close contact,” regardless of whether the staff member was wearing a mask or not.  A resident who is a close contact should be placed in transmission-based precautions for 14 days and shelter in place until testing of the resident is complete.

If the same staff member (who was at work 48 hours prior to symptom onset or specimen collection of a COVID-positive test) was near other staff members during that time period, so long as the other staff members were wearing a mask and eye protection, the other staff members are not considered close contacts and may continue to work.

Questions regarding the FAQ document may be emailed to Jennifer Spivey at For a list of the IDH Infection Preventionists by district, along with their contact information, please click here.


About the Author

Laura Brown