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COVID-19: What To Do If You Are Sick or Exposed

Adult cuddling with a sick child on the sofa

What to expect if you are sick or were exposed to COVID-19

See the basic information on what to expect if you are sick or were exposed to COVID-19, including the symptoms, and steps to take if you have COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who has it.

People with COVID-19 can experience a wide range of symptoms. Most symptoms will be mild, but some can be severe and lead to hospitalization or death.

You may have COVID-19 if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Cough (new onset or worsening of chronic cough)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever or chills
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell

More information can be found at: CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) COVID-19 Symptoms webpage

If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and isolate. Isolating away from others helps prevent spreading the virus to others. During isolation:

  • Stay home
  • Wear a well-fitting mask if you have to be around other people
  • Watch for new or worsening symptoms
  • Notify people you may have exposed

More information about what you should do if you have COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.

If you are exposed to COVID-19, take steps reduce your risk of getting sick or spreading the disease to others. After being exposed:

  • Monitor your health for 10 days after your last exposure.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 at least five days after being exposed to COVID-19 or if you develop any symptoms.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public until 10 days after your last contact.

More information about what you should do if you were exposed to COVID-19 can be found at: What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19 | CDC

All travelers, domestic or international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements.

Remember, the best way to protect yourself from getting severely sick with COVID-19 is to stay up to date on all COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses.

If you have symptoms that last more than four weeks, you may be experiencing a post-COVID condition. Post COVID conditions are physical and mental health problems that can be ongoing after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) is a rare, but serious post-COVID condition that primarily affects school aged children. It can cause parts of the body to become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or stomach, after being sick with COVID-19.

More information about MIS-C can be found at: Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) | Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Last revised October 3, 2023