When should I go to a hospital emergency department or call 911 for an ambulance?
Go to a hospital emergency department or call 911 if you have severe COVID-19 symptoms: trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in your chest; new confusion; cannot wake up or stay awake; pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone; fever above 103 degrees.
Please know emergency departments are caring for very sick and injured people. Emergency departments are not able to be COVID-19 testing sites. If you can’t find a test right away, a better idea is to stay home until you are able to get tested, either at a testing site or with a home test.
When is someone with COVID-19 contagious/able to give someone else the virus?
People are contagious two to three days before they start to feel sick or test positive, and then for at least five days after they feel sick or have a positive test.
Can I use a home test?
Yes, home tests are a good option right now, because testing is in high demand.
- If your home test is positive (if it says you have COVID-19), believe it and quarantine, even if you feel fine. There is no need to test again unless you have another reason, for example, your employer requires it. (Review the quarantine guidelines below.)
- If your home test is negative, it does not mean you do not have COVID-19. You can still have the virus.
- If you took a test because you were around someone who has COVID-19, you should continue to watch for symptoms and wear a mask when around others for at least 5 more days.
- If you took a test to be sure you do not have COVID-19 (maybe you are visiting an elderly or sick person, you are going to a gathering, or felt sick), do not ignore all other precautions. You should still wear a mask when recommended, social distance, and wash your hands often.
If I test positive with a home test, do I need to go get an “official” test?
You do not need to test again.
If I test negative, can I go out with no mask/be less careful?
People take tests for many reasons, for example, before gatherings, before visiting a sick or elderly loved one, because they feel sick, or before international travel. These are all good reasons to take a test. However, if the test is negative, do not assume you cannot have or get COVID-19.
Keep in mind you may have tested negative but are in the very early stages of COVID-19, before the test can tell you if you have the virus. Even if you test negative, you should still wear a mask when recommended or required, social distance, wash your hands often, and avoid crowds. You still need to use common sense and continue to be careful so you do not get COVID-19 or unknowingly spread it to others.
I was with someone who now has COVID-19 but I feel fine – do I need to quarantine/isolate?
You DO NOT need to quarantine if:
- You are fully vaccinated and had a booster as recommended
- You are ages 16-17 and had both doses of vaccine, but not a booster
- You tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and recovered.
You DO need to:
- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days.
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days from the date you were with the person who has COVID-19.
- Get a COVID-19 test 3 – 5 days after you last had contact with the person who has COVID-19, even if you feel fine. You can use a home test if you have one.
- If you start having COVID-19 symptoms, or if you test positive, then you should quarantine/isolate from others.
You DO need to quarantine if:
- You are not vaccinated.
- You are vaccinated but have not received a booster.
I need to quarantine – now what?
For the first 5 days:
- Stay home.
- Wear a mask around others in your home.
- 3 – 5 days after you were exposed, get a COVID test. You can use a home test if you have one.
- After 5 days, if you have no COVID-19 symptoms and tested negative, you can end quarantine.
For days 5 – 10:
- Continue to watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Wear a mask for 5 more days when you are around other people at home or any time you leave home and are with people.
- Stay away from people who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 (for example, elderly people, people who are not vaccinated, and people who are immunocompromised or have serious health conditions).
If I take a home test and it’s positive – what do I do?
For 10 days from the date of your positive test, or from when you first had symptoms, you should:
- Stay home and isolate for 10 days. Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and take Tylenol or other pain relievers and decongestants for your symptoms.
- Call your doctor for guidance if you are not feeling well.
- Tell people who were around you in the last 2-3 days that you tested positive for COVID-19.
- Wear a mask if you have contact with people in your home.
- If you feel well, you can do activities such as work from home.
- If you have severe symptoms, go to an emergency department: trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in your chest; new confusion; cannot wake up or stay awake; pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone; fever above 103 degrees.
If you have additional questions about testing or quarantine, visit the CDC website or talk to your doctor.