FAQ: Positive tests: Isolation, quarantine, re-testing, and travel
A positive PCR test has implications for both that individual and their close contacts. Here’s what happens in each case.
|I have no symptoms.||Isolate for at least 10 days after first positive test.|
|I have symptoms of COVID-19.||Isolate for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until fever free for at least 24 hours.|
|I am a close contact.||Quarantine for at least 10 full days from last potential exposure; self-monitor daily for symptoms through Day 14.|
December 16, 2020
Public health authorities consider a positive PCR test to be a true positive, so a subsequent negative test would not change the requirement for isolation. This is consistent with the CDC’s current estimate that 40 percent of infected individuals are asymptomatic but still able to spread the virus.
September 3, 2020
At least 10 days. If you are:
- Asymptomatic: Isolate for 10 days after the first positive test.
- Symptomatic: Isolate for at least 10 days after symptom onset or until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours, whichever is longer.
- Severely ill: Isolate for at least 10 days and up to 20 days after symptom onset.
September 3, 2020
Once you’ve tested positive for the virus, you do not need to be tested again for 90 days from symptom onset, if you became ill, or from the date of your positive test, if you remained asymptomatic.
However, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during that three-month period, and if clinicians cannot identify another cause for these symptoms, you may need to be re-tested at that time.
January 21, 2021
The CDC defines a “close contact” as “someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.”
October 21, 2020
If you are a Covid Pass participant who comes to campus regularly, and you have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, you will need to self-quarantine for at least 10 days. If you have been vaccinated, quarantine is not required.
The CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the City of Cambridge now offer two options for individuals to leave quarantine earlier than 14 days. MIT’s 10-day quarantine is the more stringent of those two options.
While you are quarantining, you must actively monitor yourself for symptoms and take your temperature at least once every day. You must continue this self-monitoring for a full 14 days from the date of your possible exposure to the virus, even after your 10-day quarantine has ended. If you develop even mild symptoms or a temperature of 100°F or higher, you must immediately self-isolate and contact MIT’s contact-tracing team to arrange testing.
Unless you develop symptoms, you do not need to be tested during the quarantine period. However, if you want to be tested, MIT’s contact tracers will work with you to schedule your test.
March 16, 2020
Your quarantine will continue for 10 full days. On Day 11, once the contact-tracing team has spoken with you to confirm that you have remained asymptomatic, they will lift your Covid Pass hold.
You should get tested at one of MIT’s regular Covid Pass surveillance-testing sites the first available testing day that you are due to be on campus. As long as your previous test was done within the last 14 days, you will be able to access campus buildings and proceed with your normal campus activities the same day. However, if your previous test result is 14 days old or older, you will need to wait for a negative test result before your campus access is restored.
Remember that you must continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for a full 14 days from the date of your possible exposure to the virus. If you develop symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and contact MIT’s contact-tracing team.
December 16, 2020
While it may feel punitive to suspend pod activity, MIT’s goal was to contain a small COVID-19 transmission event and prevent it from becoming a massive outbreak. MIT issued the “pod pause” because a handful of high-risk gatherings led to a large number of positive cases.
Pods, by design, provide opportunities for specific groups of students to gather, eat, study, and socialize without masks and without the need to social distance. They are built so students can enjoy some sense of normalcy, engaging in what would otherwise be high-risk behaviors. But only within the pod. The safety of individual pod members and the larger community depends on secure boundaries. When a breach occurs, a “pod pause” must follow.
Activities like gym access, classes, and outdoor events are quite different. These are all instances where participants are fully masked, remaining distant, and are at very low risk.
Future pod pauses could occur if the number of positive tests begins to rise again. To avoid this, students should not host or attend unauthorized on- or off-campus gatherings; they violate MIT COVID-19 policies and, more importantly, put our community at risk.
March 8, 2021
Yes, MIT’s quarantine policies have recently changed. If you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine after returning from out-of-state travel. You will, however, still need to have a negative COVID test through Covid Pass testing before you will be allowed to access campus.
March 15, 2021
No. We no longer require vaccinated individuals who become close contacts of a positive individual to quarantine for 10 days. You will, however, need to provide your vaccination documentation to MIT Medical. This policy is subject to change based on the percentage of vaccinated people and measures of how the virus is spreading in communities.
March 15, 2021