What To Do if You Are Sick or Test Positive for COVID-19?
If You Have a Positive Test, steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or develop symptoms of COVID-19 after you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. (Exceptions to this include health care workers and people with weakened immune systems.)
I have tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do now?
Separate from other people and animals and stay home for five days, except to get urgent medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you can leave your home. Continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.
Separate your living space
While at home, as much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people or wear a mask around them during this isolation. Information on the right type of masks can be found here. You do not need to wear a mask when you are alone. Also, if available, you should use a separate bathroom. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Additional guidance for persons who are helping to take care of you at home is available here.
Tell persons you may have exposed
An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone. A simple text or phone call to let these individuals know you have tested positive is recommended; advise them to monitor their own wellness, wear a mask for 10 days and get tested a full 5 days after their exposure to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap or water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water are preferred if hands are visibly dirty.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water are preferred if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean high touch surfaces daily, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product. See Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for more information.
Contact help if needed
Seek medical attention as soon as possible if your illness is worsening or if you are at high risk for severe illness or complications; monoclonal antibody therapy or an oral medication may be a treatment option for you. You can find locations offering these therapies and medications on the COVID-19 Outpatient Therapy Locator or call 1-800-889-3931. Before seeking care, call your health care provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a face mask before you enter the health care provider’s facility.
Customize your isolation
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created an online, mobile-friendly calculator that provides an easy-to-use way to help people follow its isolation and precautions for people with COVID-19 guidance and get customized information to address their unique situation.
Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. You can take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better. If you have any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or may have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.
Additional guidance for persons who are helping to take care of you at home is available here.
At the end of your isolation, if you require a letter to return to work, you can find a sample letter here.
What do I need to communicate to those I may have exposed?
Think through who you have exposed
Think through your activities two days before you tested or started to have symptoms and make a list of all of the people you have had close contact with.
You can send a simple message, such as: “I recently tested positive for COVID-19, its important you monitor your symptoms and get tested too. Avoid crowded places and wear your mask.”
Help with info
I don’t have symptoms, what does this mean for my isolation?
If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you can leave your home while wearing a mask. If you have a fever five days after testing positive or developing symptoms, continue to isolate until your fever resolves. To calculate your five-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms.
Continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others for five additional days, including in your home.
If You Think You May Have COVID-19
How do I know when to get tested for COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor to see if you need to be tested. Learn more about COVID-19 illness and other symptoms here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
You were a close contact
If you were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should get tested at least five days after your last exposure to protect yourself and others from spreading the virus.
Find a testing center
You can use home testing kits or find available testing locations here and information on what to do if you have been exposed here.
Local Health Department Contact Information
As of June 1, 2022, most local health departments are no longer reaching out to confirmed cases directly. If you have questions about your positive case diagnosis and would like to speak to an individual at your local health department, refer to the regional contact information on the map here.
Positive COVID-19 Case Resources and Support
Resource assistance could be available to help you isolate/quarantine properly. Common resource needs include help coordinating food or household item deliveries or help with rental assistance applications. during your isolation at home.
Contact information for the Pandemic Health Navigator support can be found here: https://www.helpguidethrive.org/
For more information about resources available to you locally, phone your local health department directly.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Safe and effective administration of COVID-19 vaccines are a critical component of the U.S. strategy to reduce COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Anyone six months of age and older is eligible and recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Local health departments, pharmacy partners, health care providers – in short, every jurisdiction that receives vaccine, including the pediatric dose – are available to provide COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines and to read frequently asked questions (FAQs), check out the COVID-19 Vaccine page.
To find a vaccine location near you, go to vaccines.gov. You will input your ZIP code and get a list of vaccine sites near you.