About COVID-19 contact tracing and notifications

Did you know that USC has a dedicated team in place to quickly notify faculty, staff, and students when they may have been in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual on campus? Campus notifications following contact-tracing interviews of every known positive case is just one of the ongoing efforts to keep the community safe, and our USC COVID SWAT Team is leading this charge.

The COVID SWAT Team, which has been meeting nearly every day since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, discusses each case to determine whether USC students, faculty, or staff have been in the vicinity of a positive individual and at the level of risk. The USC COVID SWAT Team is made up of members from the offices of:

  • Student Health
  • Environmental Health & Safety
  • Risk Management
  • Student Affairs
  • Human Resources, Equity, and Compliance

The university has established a very robust program for handling cases of exposure to COVID-19 and confirmed cases of the infection.

Contact-Tracing Positive Results

When individuals test through USC Student Health‘s Pop Testing program, results are automatically routed for review by the medical team. Faculty and staff who test positive with external results from their health care provider should contact the COVID-19 hotline, 213-740-6291 or covid19@usc.edu.

USC Student Health‘s Pop Testing program (which can be scheduled through the secure health records portal, MySHR) is a partnership with Keck Medicine of USC Clinical Laboratories, and typically returns results within 24 hours. Results are reviewed by the medical team at USC Student Health, who contact positive individuals and provide instructions, answer questions, and then conduct a contact-tracing interview to identify any close contacts. Details from that conversation with the health care providers are kept private and are protected under HIPAA.

Notifications to Campus

Contacting the close contacts (within 6 feet, for a cumulative 15 minutes or longer within 24 hours) during the infectious period (48 hours of the onset of symptoms or the test date if the individual has no symptoms) happens within 24 hours.

All employees and students, when they are identified through contact tracing as having had contact with a COVID-19 positive individual on campus – will be contacted by USC Student Health. A contact-tracing notification advises of a high-risk exposure (confirmed close contact with a positive individual)—this message may be through a secure message in the MySHR portal, phone call from Student Health, or email. Current guidance recommends vaccinated individuals to test (but they do not need to quarantine). For people who are not fully vaccinated, they are required to quarantine.

A low-risk notification indicates you may have been present with the positive individual (in a class, work setting, or activity) but there is no confirmed interaction with the positive individual. Individuals who have received a low-risk notification may choose to test but are not required to do so.

If the positive person has been on campus during their infectious period, people in affected classes, offices, and activity groups are provided location and dates relevant to potential transmission. This is called a general notification and is shared with broader communities that may have been on the same building premises. A daily digest of COVID-19 notifications is available to the university community to view (USC log-in required).

The COVID SWAT Team stays current on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Los Angeles County and is in compliance with AB 685, the California law that enhances the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSHA) and requires employers like USC to provide notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 to its employees within one business day of learning of it.

We are committed to the safety and well-being of our Trojan Community, and the COVID SWAT Team is just one of the ways we show that commitment. For more information on what is being done to keep you safe, visit the We are USC and coronavirus.usc.edu websites.