COVID-19 Positive Test Result: Next Steps

What to Do if You are Sick or Possibly Exposed

Updated 3/18/2022

There are many possible symptoms  of COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Here is guidance on what to do:


I Tested Positive for COVID-19

Isolate at home for at least 5 days and wear a mask when around others for an additional 5 days.

  • Stay home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible.
    • Stay home and avoid others until you have been at least 24 hours without a fever (without fever-reducing medicine), your symptoms are resolving, and it has been 5 days since the first day you had symptoms. Continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others for 5 additional days.
    • If you have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and avoid others until 5 days have passed since the day of your COVID-19 test. Continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call before visiting your doctor. If you have an appointment, be sure you tell them you have or may have COVID-19.
  • Avoid using public transportation, taxis, or ride-share.
  • Tell your employer, school, or child care center about your diagnosis.
    • If the positive test was an at-home test, you can report your or your child’s result  and a contact tracer will follow-up with you to discuss isolation and contact notification. You should also try to receive a follow-up PCR test collected at a clinic or community test site within 48 hours to confirm the test result.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Notify dispatch that you have or may have COVID-19.
  • You don’t need to get tested again if you’ve recently had a positive test, your test is likely to be positive for many weeks after you recover. You don’t need a negative test to stop isolating.

Notify your close contacts.

Take steps to limit the spread of COVID in your household.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wear a mask if you have to be around other people in your household.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes and glasses, or bedding.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones, and keyboards.

Review our Isolation Guidelines PDF  for more information.


I was exposed to someone with COVID-19

First, know that you generally need to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to get infected.

Close contact includes:

  • Living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, OR
  • Being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 15 minutes (with or without a mask), OR
  • Someone with COVID-19 coughing on you, kissing you, sharing utensils with you or you had direct contact with their body secretions.
If you:Then:
Have been boosted OR Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR Completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months.Wear a mask around others for 10 days since your last contact. Test on day 5, if possible. Find testing options on our website.
​​​​If you:Then:
Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR Completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted OR Are unvaccinated.Stay home and quarantine for 5 days since your last contact. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. If you can’t quarantine, you must wear a mask around others for 10 days. We strongly recommend quarantine as the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID. Test on day 5, if possible. Find testing options on our website.

Review our Quarantine Guidelines PDF  for more information.


Someone in my home is sick from COVID-19

  • Review our fact sheet PDF  to see our recommendations and calculate quarantine for the members of your household.
  • The sick person should be in their own room and should have their own bathroom, if possible. They should have the door closed, and food and other needs should be left outside their door for them to pick up.
  • The CDC has additional guidance for how to clean and disinfect your home  if someone is sick, including how to clean surfaces, linens, dishes, and trash.
  • The CDC also has information about how to minimize risk if you live in a house with close quarters  (e.g., small apartment with more than one person or a house with multiple generations).

I’m a health care worker

Health care workers are subject to different recommendations due to widespread exposure to COVID-19 and their critical role.

Health care workers may follow CDC guidelines  for critical workers if their employers want them to return to work.