Information on COVID-19 Exposures

In order to limit the spread of coronavirus, the University is enacting health protocols to guide our response to cases, including reporting of exposures and contact tracing for confirmed cases. Below is more information on required actions, exposure protocols, and data concerning COVID-19 cases.

Reporting COVID-19 Exposures, Symptoms, and Confirmed Cases

In coordination with the University of Chicago Medicine and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines, the University has developed an Exposure Protocol for individuals who have suspected exposure to COVID-19, symptoms related to COVID-19, confirmed cases of the disease, or people who have recently traveled to areas with widespread, ongoing transmission.

Anyone who is covered under one of these scenarios must promptly self-report at C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu. This page provides information on University procedures for people with COVID-19 exposure, and updates on the number of cases and close contacts among people currently affiliated with the University and its locations in Hyde Park and downtown Chicago.

As of summer 2020, the University is collecting information on current cases from people who have self-reported to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu. The University’s plans for the 2021-22 academic year call for COVID-19 testing of everyone living in University residence halls upon their arrival, and mandatory weekly testing of unvaccinated members of the University community, including students, faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff. Voluntary testing will be available for vaccinated members of the community as well.  The University will continue to provide information on current cases as we receive more data from testing.

Exposure Protocol

 The University has established this protocol for addressing confirmed or suspected COVID-19 exposures.

Contact Tracing

All reports made to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu of a UChicago community member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive are forwarded to the University’s Contact Tracing Team. A Contact Tracer is assigned to interview each individual with confirmed COVID-19 to determine if they have been in close contact with other members of the University community.

Importance of Contact Tracing
It is vitally important for all members of the University community to cooperate with the University’s Contact Tracing Team. Their work is essential in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Members of the University community have agreed to cooperate with contact tracers as part of the attestation required to access campus facilities. Please also note that the Contact Tracing Team has no role in student discipline or enforcement of policy. The Contact Tracing Team’s paramount priority is to limit the spread of COVID-19 by identifying and notifying close contacts of known cases.

Close Contact Definition
close contact is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Public Health as any individual who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The Contact Tracing Team notifies close University contacts of their exposure, provides them with public health recommendations to limit the spread of the virus, and directs them to University resources for further support. For further information, see the Exposure Protocol.

Protecting Confidentiality
The Contact Tracing Team routinely notifies the appropriate dean of students, academic leader, work supervisor, or other appropriate medical personnel concerning new cases. A top priority in any such notification is to maintain the confidentiality of infected individuals, and to limit information about a patient’s identity to a small number of University personnel with oversight duties for the patient. Contact tracers will not send a broad message unless the entire group has been identified as having potential high-risk exposures. Only people whose exposure to an infected individual meets appropriate risk thresholds will be contacted. The University’s primary means of providing updates on new cases is the campus-wide dashboard. In limited cases when communications are sent about specific new cases, such messages should always avoid providing identifying information about the COVID-19 patient.

Data on COVID-19 Cases and Exposures

The University of Chicago COVID-19 Dashboard provides important information on the status of COVID-19 at the University and the health of the campus community. The dashboard includes data from the Mandatory and Voluntary Surveillance Testing Programs, information on the number of students in isolation, and data on overall cases and close contacts identified by the University’s contact tracing team.