Interim Infection Control Guidance for Public Health Personnel Evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Asymptomatic Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases at Their Home or Non-Home Residential Settings

CDC guidance for COVID-19 may be adapted by state and local health departments to respond to rapidly changing local circumstances.

This document was updated to reflect the updates in the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.

The changes include:

  • Updated PPE recommendations
    • Based on local and regional situational analysis of PPE supplies, facemasks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand. During this time, available respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols, which would pose the highest exposure risk to HCP.
    • When the supply chain is restored, organizations with a respiratory protection program should return to use of respirators for patients with known or suspected COVID-19. Organizations that do not currently have a respiratory protection program, but interact with patients infected with pathogens for which a respirator is recommended, should implement a respiratory protection program.
  • Updated language on collection of diagnostic respiratory specimens related to aerosol- vs. non-aerosol generating activities.
  • Updated recommendations to include placing a facemask on symptomatic patients as source control.

Related Pages

CDC provides guidance on what specimens to collect when testing for COVID-19. The latest guidance is available online at Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

As part of the risk assessment and public health management of persons with potential COVID-19, public health personnel will typically conduct interviews and assess these individuals for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19. In certain circumstances they will also obtain respiratory specimens. This guidance is intended to address recommended infection prevention and control practices when these activities are performed at a home or non-home residential settings, which warrant additional considerations beyond those described for healthcare settings.

For recommendations on the evaluation of PUIs in healthcare settings refer to the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.

Interviewing and assessing persons with symptoms (PUIs for COVID-19):

  • Make every effort to interview the PUI by telephone, text monitoring system, or video conference.
    • Temperature monitoring could be reported by phone or shown to a provider via video conferencing
  • If public health personnel must interview a PUI in their home, the public health personnel should wear recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), including a gown, gloves, eye protection such as goggles or a disposable face shield that covers the front and sides of the face, and respiratory protection such as a NIOSH-approved N-95 or higher-level respirator or facemask (if a respirator is not available), as recommended the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.
    • Hand hygiene should be performed before putting on PPE using alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol.
    • PPE should ideally be put on outside of the home prior to entry into the home.
      • If unable to put on all PPE outside of the home, it is still preferred that face protection such as a respirator or facemask and eye protection be put on before entering the home.
    • Ask the PUI or a household member if an external trash can is present at the home, or if one can be left outside for the disposal of PPE.
    • Alert persons within the home that the public health personnel will be entering the home and ask them to move to a different room, if possible, or keep a 6-foot distance in the same room.
    • Once the entry area is clear, enter the home and put on a gown and gloves.
    • Ask symptomatic PUIs to wear a facemask during the visit if able to tolerate and one is available.
    • PPE should ideally be removed outside of the home and discarded by placing in a plastic bag and into an external trash can before departing location. PPE should not be taken from the PUI’s home in public health personnel’s vehicle. Public health officials should carry a supply of plastic bags for disposal of PPE.
      • If unable to remove all PPE outside of the home, it is still preferred that face protection such as respirator or facemask and eye protection be removed after exiting the home.
      • If gown and gloves must be removed in the home, ask persons within the home to move to a different room, if possible, or keep a 6-foot distance in the same room.
      • Once the entry area is clear, remove gown and gloves and exit the home.
      • If hands get contaminated during glove or gown removal, once outside the home, perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol. Then remove face protection and discard PPE by placing in external trash can before departing location.
      • Perform hand hygiene again.

Interviewing and assessing persons without symptoms (asymptomatic close contacts who have been exposed to a suspect or lab-confirmed case of COVID-19):

  • Make every effort to interview the asymptomatic close contact by telephone, text monitoring system, or video conference.
    • Temperature monitoring could be reported by phone or shown to a provider via video conferencing.
  • If public health personnel must interview the asymptomatic close contact in person, the public health personnel should stay at least 6 feet away from the asymptomatic close contact and ask them if they have had fevers or respiratory symptoms.
  • The public health personnel should put on a face mask when entering the home.
  • Ask asymptomatic close contacts wear a facemask during the visit if one is available.
  • If the interview and assessment is occurring in the home environment, the public health personnel should not enter the home until these questions have been asked and the asymptomatic close contact has been determined to be afebrile by temperature measurement.
    • If the asymptomatic close contact reports fever or symptoms, they should be considered a PUI and referred for further medical evaluation as appropriate. Public health personnel should document temperature measurement and description of symptoms.
  • If the asymptomatic close contact does not report fever or symptoms, they should be instructed to take their own temperature and report the result.
  • If the asymptomatic close contact reports having no symptoms and fever is not detected, it remains appropriate to stay at least 6 feet away during further interactions even if entering the home environment.
  • If they are not able to take their own temperature, the public health personnel should:
    • Perform hand hygiene using alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol
    • Put on a facemask, eye protection and gloves
    • Proceed with checking the asymptomatic close contact’s temperature
    • PPE should ideally be removed outside of the home and discarded by placing in a plastic bag and into an external trash can before departing location. PPE should not be taken from the PUI’s home in public health personnel’s vehicle. Public health officials should carry a supply of plastic bags for disposal of PPE.
      • If unable to remove all PPE outside of the home, it is still preferred that face protection such as respirator or facemask and eye protection be removed after exiting the home.
      • If gloves must be removed in the home, ask persons within the home to move to a different room, if possible, or keep a 6-foot distance in the same room.
      • Once the entry area is clear, remove gloves and exit the home.
      • If hands get contaminated during glove removal, once outside the home, perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol. Then remove face protection and discard PPE by placing in external trash can before departing location.
      • Perform hand hygiene again

Diagnostic respiratory specimen (nasopharyngeal swab) collection for all PUIs for COVID-19 at home:

  • Alert persons within the home that public health personnel will be collecting a diagnostic respiratory specimen.
  • Ask person being tested if an external trash can is present at the home, or if one can be left outside for the disposal of PPE.
  • Identify a location for swab collection:
    • Testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 should be conducted outdoors if climate allows.
      • If performing this outdoors, identify a location that provides privacy to the individual being tested.
    • If conducted in the home, specimen collection should be performed in the area of the house where the individual being tested self-isolates.
  • Only the public health personnel and individual being tested should be in the room/area when testing is performed.
  • Follow guidance in CDC’s Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • Collecting diagnostic respiratory specimens (nasopharyngeal swab) is likely to induce cough or sneezing. Specimen collection should be the last activity performed just before leaving the home or outdoor collection area. Allow for self-or healthcare worker-collected nasal turbinate swab if nasal pharyngeal swab is not possible.
  • Public health personnel collecting specimens should wear recommended PPE, including a gown, gloves, eye protection, and respiratory protection such as a NIOSH-approved N-95 or higher-level respirator or facemask (if a respirator is not available), as recommended in the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.
    • Hand hygiene should be performed before putting on PPE using alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol.
    • PPE should ideally be put on outside of the home prior to entry into the home.
  • If unable to put on all PPE outside of the home, it is still preferred that face protection (respirator or facemask and eye protection) be donned before entering the home.
    • Once the entry area is clear, enter the home and put on a gown and gloves.
    • PPE should ideally be removed outside of the home and discarded by placing in external trash can before departing location.
    • PPE should not be taken from the home of the person being tested in public health personnel’s vehicle.
      • If unable to remove all PPE outside of the home, it is still preferred that face protection (respirator or facemask and eye protection) be removed after exiting the home.
      • If gown and gloves must be removed in the home, ask persons within the home to move to a different room, if possible, or keep a 6-foot distance in the same room.
      • Once the entry area is clear, remove gown and gloves and exit the home.
      • Once outside the home, perform hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, remove face protection and discard PPE by placing in external trash can before departing location.
      • Perform hand hygiene again.
  • The testing of asymptomatic persons may occur in special situations. The above infection control recommendations apply for collection of specimens from asymptomatic persons as well.