The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a series of questions around factors that can determine a lower or higher risk of COVID-19 transmission. These questions are designed so you can assess your risk of exposure and possible transmission in various settings, as well as the likelihood that you were infected if you had recently been around a person with COVID-19.
As always, you should consult with your healthcare team to make sure you are taking the recommended precautions in any scenario and contact your doctor right away if you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19.
Factors that lower or increase risk of transmission:
Length of time: How long were you with the infected person? Longer exposure time increases the risk of transmission.
Cough or heavy breathing: Was the infected person coughing, breathing heavily, shouting, etc.? These types of activities increase the risk of transmission.
Symptoms: Did the infected person have symptoms at the time you were around them? Being around someone symptomatic increases the risk of transmission.
Masks: Where you, the infected person, or both of you wearing an N95 or high-quality mask? If one person was wearing a mask, the risk is decreased, and if both people were wearing masks, the risk is substantially decreased.
Ventilation and filtration: How well-ventilated was the space? More outdoor air can decrease the risk of transmission and being outside lowers exposure risk as opposed to being indoors. If indoors, good ventilation and filtration decrease the risk.
Distance: How close was the infected person to you? Being closer to someone infected with COVID-19 increases the risk of transmission to you and crowded settings increase the chance of being close to someone with COVID-19.