Washington State University

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing identifies COVID-19 positive individuals and their close contacts and establishes isolation durations for people testing positive and quarantine durations for their close contacts.  The Washington Department of Health defines a close contact as any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes in a 24 hours period.  If you receive a contact tracing call, please cooperate with contact tracers, provide as much information as possible and adhere to isolation or quarantine recommendations.  Contact tracers maintain strict confidentially, and only share information you have permitted them to share.  Limiting contact with people actively shedding virus through contact tracing, isolation and quarantine helps reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Limiting close contacts to a few friends or family reduces the likelihood you could become infected or might infect others.  Risk is significantly reduced if individuals are vaccinated.

What to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19

What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19

What to do if someone in your household tests positive


WSU students, faculty and staff identified as close contacts i.e. within 6 feet of a person testing positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative 15 minute exposure over a 24 hour period shall:

  • If fully vaccinated (2 weeks after completion of a two-dose mRNA series or single dose of Janssen vaccine):
    • Students, faculty and staff may return to work or a WSU location provided they don’t experience COVID-like symptoms.
    • Get tested 3 to 5 days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until receiving a negative test result.
    • Should symptoms present, stay home and isolate, contact your healthcare provider by phone and Jason Sampson at 509-335-9564 or Shawn Ringo at 509-335-5251.
  • If unvaccinated:
    • Quarantine at home and away from others for 14 days.
    • Should symptoms present, stay home and isolate, contact your healthcare provider by phone and Jason Sampson at 509-335-9564 or Shawn Ringo at 509-335-5251.


Should an employee test positive for COVID-19, and elect to disclose their COVID status to their supervisor or WSU, the supervisor or WSU representative shall request the employee contact EH&S for adherence to WAC 296-62-600 Public health emergency reporting and notification requirements for infectious and contagious diseases. Affected personnel shall contact Jason Sampson at 509-335-9564 or Shawn Ringo at 509-335-5251.

Whitman county

Whitman County’s relatively low population and access to resources supports rapid contact tracing.  Contact tracers reach individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts within 24 hours of receiving laboratory results.  If you hear of someone in your area testing positive for COVID-19 and you were not contacted, you were not identified as a close contact.

counties experiencing covid-19 outbreaks and outside Washington state

Every Health Department tries to rapidly complete contact tracing; however, those counties experiencing outbreaks struggle at times to keep up with cases.  Employees living in counties experiencing outbreaks, and employees living outside Washington State that test positive for COVID-19 must not report to a WSU work location, and contact Human Resource Services’ Disability Services at 509-335-4521.  Please identify any workplace close contacts to HRS, which should be limited given COVID-19 protocols.  Consider contacting friends or family meeting the definition of a close contact and recommend they contact their healthcare provider, acknowledging contact tracing resource limitations.

Isolation and Quarantine

The Department of Health provides excellent information for COVID-19 infected individuals asked to self-isolate, and their close contacts asked to self-quarantine due to be unvaccinated or vaccinated with symptoms.  When in isolation or quarantine, stay away from others and avoid public places.  Many people may continue working or studying remotely, and experience very light to moderate symptoms.  Contact your healthcare provider and get help if your symptoms get worse, such as having trouble breathing.

Contact tracers provide information on additional available resources, if you have questions concerning resources available to you while in isolation or quarantine, or allowable activities, contact EH&S at 509-335-3041. Contact Disability Services for leave options at 509-335-4521.

Students in isolation and quarantine should work with Student Affairs to identify the available resources and support.

Close Contacts Who Don’t Receive Health Department Notification

If you meet the definition of a close contact to an individual that tested positive for COVID-19, and were not contacted by the Health Department, ask the individual that tested positive to call their case investigator (contact tracer).  In Whitman County, the case investigator will work with you to determine whether you are a close contact and/or need to self quarantine.