C-19 infections and tracing

After-hours EOC

If you experience COVID symptoms after regular university hours or on weekends, contact the Emergency Operations Center at eoc@nmhu.edu, and you will be connected to the appropriate resources.

COVID-19 Infected

How do I know if I have COVID?
As COVID can infect both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, anyone experiencing any symptoms of COVID (fever, fatigue, muscle pain, cough, loss of smell/taste, difficulty breathing, sore throat) should test to protect both yourself and those around you.

What do I do if I have tested and I am positive?
 COVID is a highly infectious disease that requires you to inform the EOC (eoc@nmhu.edu) and isolate yourself from others. If you are on the Las Vegas campus, the EOC can assist you with moving to a safe location (if needed) for the 10-day isolation period. We will also initiate contact tracing to inform people you might have been in contact with of their potential exposure. Isolation means no contact with any other person in the same area as you unless it is a medical emergency. You should immediately contact a medical provider if your symptoms include breathing issues or are getting worse.

What do I do if I test positive and I have a class that is only face-to-face?
 You cannot attend a face-to-face class if you are COVID positive until you have completed your isolation period and been cleared by medical. Please contact your instructor. COVID absences are treated as any other absences, and it is up to the instructor to determine what possibilities may exist for you to complete any missed coursework, as per the syllabi.

What if someone that I have been in contact with tells me they have COVID?
Depending on the exposure time, the type of contact, and other factors, you should assume that until you are tested, you might be infected. Wear a mask at all times and seek out a testing site. Current CDC guidance does not require fully vaccinated individuals to quarantine; instead, you should be tested 3-5 days after potential exposure. COVID spreads most easily by interactions with others within a 6-foot radius, so if you must interact with others by seeking medical attention, obtaining food, and living arrangement, try to maintain that radius and always wear a mask. If you test positive, you must isolate (normally at home or in a designated isolation room).

What is ‘close contact’?
Close contact is defined both through proximity and duration of exposure. : Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person (laboratory-confirmed) for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. An infected person can spread COVID starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms – this could also happen with asymptomatic people.

What is an asymptomatic person?
People that have tested positive for COVID can display a wide variety of symptoms (sore throat, shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste/smell, etc.) – or no symptoms at all.  A person can be COVID positive and not experience any symptoms.

How does a COVID diagnosis effect my sick or vacation time if I am required to isolate or quarantine?
Human Resources will treat a positive COVID test as medical justification for employees to use their sick leave or, in extreme cases, FMLA.  For those who can continue working, you may do so remotely/telework while in quarantine. Make sure to notify HR if you are teleworking as there are forms to be completed.  should the employee notify the supervisor?

Does an employee’s positive COVID test results count as a doctor’s note for those who need to quarantine or isolate?
Yes, if an employee tests positive for COVID they are not allowed to campus until they have recovered and can produce a negative test; they should quarantine or isolate while in recovery.

What if I only take distance (online) classes?
For Highlands’ purposes, if you are not physically on the Las Vegas campus or any HU center (even 1 minute is considered ‘being on’ campus) then you are not required to follow these mandates. However, you will still need to go to the vaccine and testing verification site on Highlands’ Self Service Banner page: https://banss.nmhu.edu/ssomanager/c/SSB?pkg=wwgkilib.P_COVIDVacPage and indicate your status. Additionally, please remember that everyone in New Mexico are still required to follow NMDOH mandates.

I was called by a ‘contact tracer.’ What is that?
Highlands has designated contact tracers who will work with you to identify people who have been exposed to COVID. They will ask a series of questions regarding people or places you visited. They will then inform these people of the possibility of infection. Contract tracers need to work quickly to prevent the spread on this disease. Please give them all the relevant information you may be asked for. Of course, you do not have to answer any questions, but their job is to try and identify people who might have been infected.

Quarantine – If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated.

Isolation – Means you have tested positive for COVID-19. You should immediately isolate yourself from other people. That means you will need to stay in a safe place for a minimum of 10 days or as a result of a negative COVID-19 test. You will need to contact EOC@nmhu.edu who will help track your progress and may be able to provide you all the resources you will need if you are on campus.

Quarantine for Household Close Contacts

To more fully protect the NMHU campus community, NMHU is now requiring all faculty, staff, and students, whether unvaccinated or vaccinated, who have been exposed to COVID through a close household contact (a family member or other roommate who lives with them), to quarantine until they have received a negative test. This exceeds current CDC guidance, which recommends only a test after 3-5 days after exposure for fully vaccinated individuals.

Employees and students should be tested 3-5 days after exposure, or as guided by their medical provider, and must report all test results to eoc@nmhu.edu. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, or students, are required to quarantine for at least 14 days since their last exposure.

Employees will be able to work remotely, use sick or other leave, as approved by their supervisor.

Students should contact their instructors to see how any missed work can be made up, with final decisions regarding classwork being at the discretion of the professor.

Steps for COVID-Positive Employees for Isolation and Return to Work:

All employees who test positive for COVID must isolate for 10 days from the date of the onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, the date of their positive test.
Employees who test positive for COVID will need to get a physician statement to return to work following the isolation period.
Employees must submit the medical statement to Human Resources at HR@nmhu.edu, and HR will issue you a return-to-work e-mail to share with your supervisor.
If employees can work remotely while in isolation (as approved by their supervisor), employees do not need to take sick or vacation leave while in isolation.
If employees cannot work remotely during isolation, you have the following options:

FMLA (Leave balances can be used in conjunction with FMLA)
Sick leave
Annual leave
Administrative leave (if approved by supervisor)
Leave without pay

See CDC guidelines for more information about isolation:

I think or know I had COVID-19, and I had symptoms

You can be around others after:

10 days since symptoms first appeared and
24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

Note that these recommendations do not apply to people with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).

I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms

If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since you had a positive viral test for COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance above for “I think or know I had COVID-19, and I had symptoms.”

Source: CDC guidelines on Quarantine and Isolation.

COVID Screening

Highlands is offering COVID testing for the campus and community in Melody Park on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Thursdays from 2-4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. To schedule a screening, go to www.curative.com