This informational document is intended to provide guidance to individuals who have been exposed or have a mild or suspected case of COVID-19. This is not intended for individuals who need to be hospitalized and cannot receive care at home. This document also contains information for household contacts (i.e., family members, roommates, intimate partners, and caregivers) of these individuals.
Isolation and quarantine are both ways to limit interaction with others and prevent the spread of disease.
The below information is for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have symptoms of COVID-19.
Follow the steps below to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay home except to get medical care
- Take care of yourself by getting rest and staying hydrated
- Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, may help you feel better
- Avoid public areas, including work and school
- Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis
- Stay in touch with your healthcare provider
- Separate yourself from other people
- Stay in a separate room and away from other people and pets in your home
- If possible, use a separate bathroom
- Cover your nose and mouth
- If you are sick, wear a face covering when you are around other people or pets
- Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw away used tissues in a lined trash can
- Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, or before eating or preparing food
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and other people with unwashed hands
- Do not share
- Do not share dishes, cups/glasses, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or electronics with other people
- After using personal items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your separate “sick room” and bathroom
- If possible, wear disposable gloves while cleaning
- Someone else should clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas
- If a caregiver or someone else needs to clean and disinfect, it should be done on an as-needed basis
- Caregivers should wear a face covering and disposable gloves
- Clean and disinfect areas that might have blood, stool, or bodily fluids on them
- Monitor your symptoms
- Seek medical attention immediately if your symptoms get worse, especially if you experience any of the following:
- Severe trouble breathing (such as being unable to talk without gasping for air)
- Continuous pain or pressure in your chest
- Feeling confused or having difficulty waking up
- Blue-colored lips or face
- Any other emergency signs or symptoms
- If you seek medical attention, be sure to call ahead before visiting the facility. This will help the facility keep other people from possibly getting infected or exposed.
- Tell any healthcare provider that you may have COVID-19
- Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis
- Put on a face covering before you enter any healthcare facility
Individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation until the risk of spreading the disease to others is low. The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. You may be able to discontinue home isolation based on the following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Did you have symptoms?
You may discontinue home isolation after ALL of the following have occurred:
*Loss of taste or smell may last for weeks or months and should not delay ending isolation
Please note that people who had severe illness from COVID-19 or people with a weakened immune system due to a health condition or medication may need to isolate longer than 10 days or may require testing to determine when they can be around others. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine when you can discontinue home isolation.
These recommendations should not be used as guidance about when to return to work after home isolation. The decision about when to return to work should be determined by you and your employer based on a number of factors. Please contact your employer for further information.
The below information is for individuals without symptoms of COVID-19 but may have been exposed.
If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine for 14 days after your last close contact. Although 14 days is recommended, the CDC suggests that some individuals may be able to quarantine for a shorter period of time. Individuals without symptoms can end quarantine at day 10 without testing, or at day 7 if they receive a negative test result on day 5 or later. The length of time to quarantine may be decided by your state or local department of health. You should adhere to recommendations set forth by the department of health, as they may differ from the CDC’s guidelines.
It is important to follow quarantine guidelines in case you have the virus and can spread it to others. During this time period, you should stay home, limit your interaction with others, and monitor your symptoms closely to see if you get sick. The CDC has provided a 14-day temperature and symptom log that can be used to monitor your symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider right away and isolate immediately if you develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath). If an individual quarantines for a shorter period of time, they must still monitor symptoms for up to 14 days.
Your quarantine period begins from the last close contact you had with someone who has COVID-19, even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy.
If you live in a household where you cannot avoid close contact with the person who has COVID-19, you should quarantine immediately. You will need to continue to quarantine for 14 days after the person meets criteria to end home isolation, as recommended by the CDC, unless otherwise specified. In some situations, this time period may be shorter than 14 days.
You do not need to quarantine if you have had COVID-19 within the last three months, have recovered, and do not have symptoms.
Additionally, if you have been vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 if you:
- Are fully vaccinated and it has been at least two weeks since your last dose AND
- Have not experienced symptoms since exposure
However, you should get tested within 3-5 days of exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until you receive a negative test result. Masks are especially important if you or someone in your household is at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, or if someone in your household is unvaccinated. If you do not meet the criteria above, you should continue to follow quarantine guidance.
For additional questions about when to start or stop quarantine, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.
Information for household contacts
The below information is for individuals who live with a person who has been exposed or tested positive for COVID-19. This includes:
Any individual that may have close contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should follow the precautions recommended by the CDC:
- Continue to practice everyday preventive actions.
- Keep the sick or exposed person in a separate room from others in the household.
- If you are caring for a sick household member, follow recommended precautions and monitor your own health.
- Keep surfaces disinfected.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- If you become sick, stay in contact with others by phone or email.
- Stay informed about the local outbreak situation.
- Notify your work if your schedule needs to change.
- Take care of the emotional health of your household members, including yourself.
Discuss any additional questions with your healthcare provider or a local / state health department official.