Steps to Take if You Test Positive for COVID-19

If you are experiencing symptoms that could be COVID-19, it is important to get tested right away. If you test positive, follow these steps.

If you test positive for COVID-19, there are things you need to do to take care of yourself and help stop the spread of disease to others. Most individuals recover from COVID-19 at home, but it is important to know when you should seek further treatment.

Taking Care of Yourself at Home

  • Contact your healthcare provider. Tell them you tested positive for COVID-19 and are home recovering. Based on your underlying health and symptoms you may warrant and benefit from additional treatment that works best when started early.
  • Take it easy. Rest up and stay hydrated. Over-the-counter medications can help manage symptoms.
  • Monitor your symptoms. Report worsening symptoms to your healthcare provider. If your symptoms progress to severe illness, call 911 and notify the responder that you have COVID-19 and are experiencing emergency warning signs:
    • Difficulty 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

Stopping the Spread of COVID-19 to Others

If you have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, you should stay home and away from others to help prevent others from becoming sick.

  • Stay home unless you need medical care. Don’t go to work or school and avoid public places like stores.
  • Stay away from others. In other words, if you live with other people try to keep your distance by staying in one room and using a separate bathroom if you are able. Don’t share hand towels, cups or utensils.
  • Wear a mask. If you need to be around other people within your home or when seeking medical care, wear a high-quality mask.
  • Wash your hands. After you cough or sneeze, and before you touch shared objects like door handles, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call your close contacts. Letting others who could have been exposed to COVID-19 know that you are sick allows them the opportunity to watch for symptoms and get tested.

Returning to Usual Activities

  • You can return to your usual activities when, for at least 24 hours:
    • Your symptoms are getting better AND
    • You are fever-free (without meds)
  • Take additional precautionsfor the next 5 days because you may still be able to spread COVID-19 even when you are feeling better. These can include:
    • Everyday prevention strategies (washing or sanitizing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched surfaces).
    • Taking steps to clean the air indoors by opening doors and windows and/or using exhaust fans, using a portable air cleaner and using CDC’s Home Ventilation Tool to learn more. 
    • Wearing the most protective mask you can wear comfortably for extended periods of time that fits well.
    • Maintain distance from others by avoiding crowded areas.
    • Testing.
  • If your symptoms return you develop a fever, or they worsen after you have resumed usual activities, stay home and away from others again.

If You Tested Positive, but Did Not Have Symptoms

For the next 5 days take the additional precautions outlined above. You may be contagious, which means you can spread the virus to others including individuals at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease. 

Page last updated: March 13, 2024

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