What To Do if You Were Potentially Exposed To Someone with COVID-19

Overview

If you think you have been exposed to someone with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, follow the steps on the following pages to monitor your health and avoid spreading the disease to others if you get sick.

How do I know if I was exposed?

You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
  • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g. being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)

If you have not been in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19, you are considered to be at low risk for infection. You can continue to go to work and school but should monitor your health for 14 days and stay away from others if you get sick.

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 but am not sick?

Follow the instructions on how to quarantine after exposure to prevent further transmission. You should monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath for 14 days starting after the last day you were in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school and should avoid public places. 

Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic test is negative (negative test must occur on Day 5 or later) and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Daily monitoring, however, should continue for the full 14 days after the last close contact with a sick person. 

Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days after a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. Most fully vaccinated people with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from work following an exposure unless they have symptoms.

If you have any of the following conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection — age 60 years or over, are pregnant, or have medical conditions — contact your physician's office and tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.

If you do not have a high-risk condition but want medical advice, you can call your health care provider and tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Your health care provider can help you decide if you need to be evaluated in person. There are currently no medications to treat COVID-19. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel you might have been exposed to COVID-19.

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

Anyone with symptoms should get tested as soon as possible, stay away from others, and follow the instructions on how to isolate. If you get sick with fever, cough, or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are very mild), you should stay at home and away from other people for at least 10 days after your symptoms started. In addition, you should wait until you have had no fever for at least 24 hours (one full day of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine) and other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough has improved). 

If you tested positive and have not had symptoms, you should isolate for 10 days starting the date of your positive test. If you had no symptoms when you tested positive but developed symptoms AFTER your test, you should continue to isolate for 10 days after your symptoms started and are improving as described above.

Although the risk that fully vaccinated people could become infected with COVID-19 is low, any fully vaccinated person who experiences symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and tested if indicated. If you are symptomatic but fully vaccinated, inform your health care provider of your vaccination status. If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 10 days from the beginning of your symptoms (or from your test date if you have no symptoms).