COVID-19: What to Do if You Were Exposed

On August 11, 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the COVID-19 guidance for community, school, and early childhood education settings. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) supports these updates and is currently working to update its website and materials to reflect these changes.

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets and aerosols. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you could get sick. Learn more about what to do if you've been exposed to COVID-19.

Understanding your risk

Certain factors can lower or increase your risk of getting COVID-19 after being exposed. These include:

  • How long you were around the person with COVID-19.
  • Whether or not the person with COVID-19 had symptoms at the time.
  • If the person with COVID-19 was coughing, singing, shouting, or breathing heavily.
  • Whether or not you or the person with COVID-19 were wearing masks.
  • How well-ventilated the space was.
  • How close the person with COVID-19 was to you.

Use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to help you assess and understand your risk after exposure.

Steps to take after being exposed


You Stop the Spread: Digital thermometer

Watch for symptoms

  • Monitor your health for 10 days after your last exposure.
  • Check your temperature twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. If you don't have a thermometer, watch for symptoms of fever like chills or sweats.
  • Watch for cough, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms of COVID-19. Write down any symptoms you have and when they begin.
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate from other members of your household, contact a doctor or health care provider, and get tested. Tell the doctor or health care provider your symptoms to determine if you need medical care. A doctor or health care provider can help determine COVID-19 treatment is right for you. Do not go to a medical office or clinic without contacting them first.


You Stop the Spread, Getting a nose swab

Get tested for COVID-19

Get tested at least five days after being exposed to COVID-19. Get tested right away if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you test positive, follow instructions for isolation.

If you've had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, follow specific recommendations for testing



You Stop the Spread, Adult wearing a mask

Wear a mask

Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19. Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.



You Stop the Spread, Person checking cellphone

Answer the text or call from your health department

Your local health department or the Department of Health Services Contact Tracing Team might reach out to you with more recommendations if you were exposed and identified through contact tracing.


What if someone is unable to wear a mask?

Masks are not recommended for children under ages 2 years and younger, or for people with some disabilities. In these circumstances, other prevention actions (such as improving ventilation) should be used to avoid transmission for 10 days after exposure.

Get tested

If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or have symptoms, it is a good idea to get tested. Not sure how to get tested? We can help.

See options for COVID-19 testing.

Medical professional performing a nasal swab test on an adult

Last Revised: August 17, 2022

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