COVID-19 Tips from Nurse Mason #7

COVID-19 Tips & Updates from Nurse Mason

November 2, 2020


What is the timeline of the course of coronavirus, and when can an infected person spread the virus?  
After an initial exposure, the number of virus particles in a person’s body (or viral load), takes time to build up as the pathogen infiltrates cells and copies itself repeatedly.  An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.  


Experts have said that people are more likely to be contagious when their viral loads are high.  Therefore, the window of peak infectiousness may begin a day or two before symptoms appear and closing within a week thereafter.  This is also why it is important to wear your mask, wash your hands and socially distance when possible.  These measures decrease your viral load and therefore decrease the amount of contagions your body can obtain.  


What happens if I am determined to be a close contact?  

The CDC identifies a “close contact” as “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated.” Anyone who has been informed that they have had that level of contact with someone who has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19 should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure to the infected individual.  County contact tracers can provide documentation providing “safe to return to school/work” dates. 


If I am identified as a close contact and get a negative test can my quarantine end? 

No – once you are identified as a close contact you must complete the 14 day quarantine. You can develop COVID-19 up to 14 days after your exposure. 


Nurse Mason is an Oakland County Health Department nurse assigned to St. Catherine of Siena Academy to help us keep our STARS and their families informed and safe this year.

Caroline Mason, M.Ed, BSN, RN
Oakland County School Nurse