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2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Definitions

Last Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2020.

The following definitions are used throughout the site: 

Close contact: A) being within approximately 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case, or B) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).

Public health orders: Legally enforceable directives issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state, or local entity that, when applied to a person or group, may place restrictions on the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, for the purposes of protecting the public’s health. Federal, state, or local public health orders may be issued to enforce isolation, quarantine, or conditional release. The list of quarantinable communicable diseases for which federal public health orders are authorized is defined by Executive Order and includes “severe acute respiratory syndromes.” COVID-19 meets the definition for “severe acute respiratory syndromes” as set forth in Executive Order 13295, as amended by Executive Order 13375 and 13674, and, therefore, is a federally quarantinable communicable disease.

Isolation: Defined as the separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the communicable disease. This would be a Person Under Investigation (PUI) or a confirmed COVID-19 case, i.e., a student found to have COVID-19 or awaiting testing results will be isolated from the rest of the population in an “isolation” room. If a student is in isolation they must self-monitor their symptoms and check in daily with the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) to ensure that their symptoms are not worsening. Isolation will occur for at least 14 days.

Quarantine: Defined as the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease. This is for exposure to a possible or confirmed case, i.e., roommates and suitemates (close contacts) of either a PUI or confirmed case who are not showing any signs of illness. These close contacts will self-monitor and do check-ins with SHWC staff to ensure that they are not becoming symptomatic. If at any time they become symptomatic, they must be placed in isolation. Quarantine will occur for at least 14 days, unless the person becomes symptomatic.

Congregate settings: Defined as crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums. For Otis College, this includes any school events, the dining hall, and the College Residences.

Social distancing: Defined as remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.