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 tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, you should stay home an isolate for five days.

  • Stay home unless you need medical care. Don’t go to work or school and avoid public places like stores.
  • Isolate 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

  • Discontinuing home isolation
    • With mild or moderate disease. If after five full days – with day 0 being the first day of your symptoms -  you are fever-free for 24 hours (without using fever-reducing medications) and your symptoms are improving you can end isolation.
    • With severe disease. You should isolate yourself for at least ten days and consult your healthcare provider before ending isolation.
  • Take additional precautions until day 10. You should wear a well-fitting mask any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as a restaurant. Avoid travel and being around others who are at high risk for COVID-19.
  • If your symptoms return  after you have ended isolation, or if they worsen, restart your isolation at day 0. And talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and when to end isolation.

Page last updated: October 28, 2022

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