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7 best practices if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 (or think you have)

With coronavirus and the omicron variant causing rising rates of new cases, it’s more important than ever to remain diligent to keep yourself and your community safe. But what happens when you’re exposed — or suspect you’ve been exposed — by someone you live with? 

Mark Bajorek, Director of Health Services at Portland State University, offers seven best practices to stay safe and prevent further spread.

1. Get tested on day 5 from possible exposure, especially if you are symptomatic, vaccinated, boosted or all of the above.

“The tricky part is it’s hard to get tested in Oregon right now,” Bajorek said. “So plan ahead or schedule it for day 5 if possible.”

The Center for Student Health & Counseling offers free testing for students.

2. If you or your roommate are boosted, the virus shed is lower. But still wear a mask when in the same room and try to be as separate as possible.

3. Just wash your hands — no need for bleach and disinfecting spray. Bajorek said COVID-19 doesn’t really spread on surfaces, so the risk is low.

4. Know which mask is yours, and use a surgical mask if possible instead of a cloth mask for better protection.

Surgical masks are available in most buildings on campus.

5. If you need to meet people who don’t live with you, meet outside when possible until your household tests negative.

6. Remember that omicron is more contagious than other strains of coronavirus.

“People are trying their best,” Bajorek said. “Just because they test positive, doesn’t mean people have had lapses in judgement.”

For those who are vaccinated and boosted, omicron is presenting largely like a nuisance cold, he added. 

7. If you test positive yourself, or have been exposed, be a good citizen and let your community know so everyone can stay safe.