If you become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, you can begin spreading it to others two days before your symptoms start until about one day after you recover. You can spread COVID-19 to others, even if you never develop symptoms. After being diagnosed with COVID-19, even if you don't have symptoms, you will need to stay home, except to get medical care, and separate yourself from other people in your home. This is called “isolation.” During isolation, public health staff may contact you with specific instructions for how to isolate and self-monitor for symptoms at home.
- Stay home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
- Self-monitor for new or worsening symptoms.
- Call ahead and seek medical care if your illness worsens or if you develop emergency warning signs. Call 911 immediately if you need emergency medical care and tell them that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Take steps to prevent others from getting sick.
- Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home. If possible, use a separate bathroom.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Postpone nonurgent medical appointments.
- Wear a face mask if you have to be around other people.
- Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid sharing personal household items (for example, dishes, towels, bedding, cups).
- Clean high-touch surfaces everyday. For more information about cleaning and disinfecting your home, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
- Notify your close contacts. People in your household, and others you had close contact with should get tested, stay home, and self-monitor for symptoms. See the Next Steps: notifying close contacts of a positive exposure fact sheet to learn who you should notify and what you should tell them.
How long to isolate
The length of your home isolation period depends on different factors. Contact your health care provider, local or tribal health department, or visit the CDC website for more information about ending isolation.
If you think or know you have COVID-19 and you have symptoms remain in isolation for:
- At least 24 hours after you are free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms have improved and;
- At least 10 days after the date you first had symptoms.
If you do not have symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19:
Remain in isolation for at least 10 days after your test date.
Resources on isolation after being diagnosed with COVID-19
Access a library of materials and resources that focus on isolating to stop the spread of COVID-19.
My COVID-19 symptoms have lasted weeks or even months.
While most people with COVID-19 do not report ongoing symptoms and return to their normal state of health within a week or two, some people have symptoms that can last for many weeks or even months. Symptoms lasting longer than four weeks are considered post-COVID conditions.
If you think you have Long COVID, or another post-COVID condition, talk to your healthcare provider about options for managing or treating your symptoms and resources for support. Visit our Long COVID webpage for more information.
I am fully vaccinated and I have since been diagnosed with COVID-19.
If you have symptoms and are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should isolate from others and be clinically evaluated. A very small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. These are called breakthrough infections. Most people who experience a breakthrough infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 report mild or no symptoms. Because no vaccine is 100% effective, some breakthrough infections are expected.
Note: The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19-like symptoms and no known close contact to someone with COVID-19 should not be tested for COVID-19 and should be exempt from routine screening testing programs, when possible.
When you are well and are no longer in isolation, consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19. One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, free, and now widely available.