Have You Been Exposed to Someone With COVID? Here's What to Do (2022)

With highly transmissible COVID variants rising in the U.S. and in Illinois, experts say the chances of knowing someone with COVID or contracting it yourself are on the rise.

"If you think you have a cold, if you think you have allergies, there is a good chance right now with how much COVID is around that it could be COVID," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

With several Chicago-area counties under a "high" community level for COVID and more residents testing positive for the virus or being exposed to someone who has, many are wondering what they need to do next.

First, you'll need to know the difference between whether you must quarantine or isolate. Those who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID and are unvaccinated should quarantine. Those who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate, according to the CDC.

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For those who are vaccinated, however, the guidelines are slightly different.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a calculator for those looking to determine their quarantine or isolation timelines. Otherwise, read on for the full guidelines. (Note: the CDC's guidelines were last updated on March 30.)

Quarantine

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If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are notup-to-dateon COVID-19 vaccines or are unvaccinated.

Close contact is defined by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health as "someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period."

For these individuals, the CDC and IDPH recommend you:

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  • Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Wear awell-fitting maskwhen around others at home, if possible.
  • For 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19, watch for fever (100.4◦F or greater), cough, shortness of breath, or otherCOVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you develop symptoms,get testedimmediately and isolate until you receive your test results. If you test positive, followisolationrecommendations.
  • If you do not develop symptoms,get testedat least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to wear awell-fitting maskwhen around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 5 days from the date of your positive test (if you do not have symptoms). If you do developCOVID-19 symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days from the date your symptoms began (the date the symptoms started is day 0). Follow recommendations in theisolationsection below.
    • If you are unable to get a test 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19, you can leave your home after day 5 if you have been withoutCOVID-19 symptomsthroughout the 5-day period. Wear awell-fitting maskfor 10 days after your date of last close contact when around others at home and in public.
    • Avoid people who are haveweakened immune systemsorare more likely to get very sickfrom COVID-19, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are athigher riskfor getting very sick from COVID-19, as well as others outside your home throughout the full 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • If you are unable to quarantine, you should wear awell-fitting maskfor 10 days when around others at home and in public.
  • If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you should continue to quarantine for 10 days. Avoid people who haveweakened immune systemsorare more likely to get very sickfrom COVID-19, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until after at least 10 days.
  • Do not travel during your 5-day quarantine period. Get tested at least 5 days after your last close contact and make sure your test result is negative and you remain without symptoms before traveling. If you don’t get tested, delay travel until 10 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19. If you must travel before the 10 days are completed, wear awell-fitting maskwhen you are around others for the entire duration of travel during the 10 days. If you are unable to wear a mask, you should not travel during the 10 days.
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until after 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Those who are close contacts of someone with COVID but are up-to-date on their vaccinations or have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days do not need to quarantine, but the CDC does recommend they wear awell-fitting maskaround others for 10 days after their most recent exposure and get tested after at least five days.

Isolation

According to the CDC, people who are positive for COVID should stay home until it's safe for them to be around others, including even other members of their home.

Health officials recommend a "sick room" or area for those who are infected and a separate bathroom, if possible.

But isolation may not just be for those who test positive. The CDC also recommends those who havesymptomsof COVID-19 and are awaiting test results or have not yet been tested isolate, "even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19."

"If you think you have a cold, if you think you have allergies, there is a good chance right now with how much COVID is around that it could be COVID," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said late last month.

So how do you end isolation?

  • You can end isolation after five full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​).
  • If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Continue to wear awell-fitting maskthrough day 10. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions.
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms.

Calculating COVID Isolation Period

So how do you calculate your isolation period?

According to the CDC, "day 0 is your first day of symptoms." That means that Day 1 is the first full dayafteryour symptoms developed.

For those who test positive for COVID but have no symptoms, day 0 is the day of the positive test. Those who develop symptoms after testing positive must start their calculations over, however, with day 0 then becoming the first day of symptoms.

Under the CDC guidance, those in isolation should:

  • Monitor yoursymptoms. If you have anemergency warning sign(including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps toimprove ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear awell-fitting maskwhen you need to be around other people.

Do you need to test out of isolation?

While testing out of isolation is not required, the CDC says those who choose to should use an antigen test and not a PCR test. These can be taken toward the end of the isolation period.

"Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved," the CDC states. "If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear awell-fitting maskaround others at home and in public until day 10."

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What should you do after quarantine or isolation?

After quarantining for the appropriate amount of time, those who were exposed should continue to watch for symptoms until at least 10 days after their exposure. If symptoms develop, they should isolate immediately and get tested.

After ending isolation, the CDC recommends individuals continue wearing a mask through day 10, or continue isolating for a full 10 days if masking isn't an option. They also urged these individual to avoid anyone with a weakened immune system or those at higher risk of infection for the full 10 days.

How long after COVID exposure could symptoms start?

According to the CDC, COVID symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus.

But guidelines state those who were exposed should watch for symptoms until at least 10 days after the last close contact with someone who had COVID.

Anyone with symptoms should get tested.

As BA.2 cases continue their dominance across the Midwest and U.S., here's a look at the latest symptoms to watch for.

When is the best time to take a COVID test?

Regardless of symptoms or vaccinations, those who are exposed to someone with coronavirus should get tested at least five days after their exposure.

Those who develop symptoms should get tested as symptoms develop, but if a test is negative and symptoms persist another test might be needed a few days later, particularly for those who use at-home test kits.

"So if someone is having symptoms and they get a negative test, one, it depends on the severity right? If you're having severe symptoms we don't want you to just do a home test either," Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal, the associate chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine for Cook County Health, told NBC 5 during the omicron surge late last year. "We want you to call your doctor's office and make sure that they have an opinion here because there are of course other things like the flu that are out there that can mimic symptoms or have similar symptoms. But if you're having symptoms and they're kind of mild and lingering and you use the [at-home] test and it's negative, we want you to take the precautions and then retest in three to five days. And that's why most of these kits actually come with two tests."

What is the incubation period for COVID and how long are you contagious?

"A person with COVID-19 is considered infectious starting two days before they develop symptoms, or two days before the date of their positive test if they do not have symptoms," according to the CDC.

Regardless of symptoms, those who test positive are advised to take specific precautions for at least 10 days.

"Lets say somebody is diagnosed with COVID and they are in a setting during a time that they might be infectious, we know that with COVID, for the first five days you need to be isolated because you can definitely be spreading COVID at that point," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live last month. "And then you need to be out in day six-10 in that mask."

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Which symptoms should you watch for?

According to the CDC, the following are symptoms of a COVID infection:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

It remains unclear if certain symptoms are associated with BA.2.12.1 infections. However, when it comes to BA.2, some symptoms seem to largely mirror a small number of symptoms commonly reported in omicron infections, including cough, fatigue, congestion and runny nose.

For some people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple weeks. For others, it may cause no symptoms at all. The virus can lead to more severe illness, including pneumonia and death, for some.

When it comes to those who've been vaccinated and boosted, the cold-like symptoms experienced following an omicron infectionare mostly the same regardless of the subvariant.

What if you test positive on an at-home COVID test?

Those who test positive using an at-home test are asked to follow the latest CDC guidelines and communicate the results to their healthcare provider.

Arwady has said that that process is not likely happening for every test, however.

"All of those negatives realistically are not being reported," Arwady said. "We're not counting, you know, it's a fiction that we've ever counted every COVID test."

The at-home results are part of the reason Illinois' health department changed the COVID metrics it tests.

With the state no longer reporting COVID case and test positivity, health officials said the reason is in part due to incomplete data due to at-home tests.

The department said the change, in part led by the fact that national testing data does not often reflect results from at-home tests, means that labs will no longer be required to report negative rapid antigen test results, though they will still need to show negative PCR and nucleic acid amplification test results.

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FAQs

Can I be traced via the NHS COVID-19 app? ›

The system gives a high level of privacy protection, as the app does not collect or transfer any information that tells us who or where you are. This also means it cannot tell the NHS, people and organisations who have contributed to the development of the app, or any other app user, who or where you are.

Does the NHS COVID-19 app delete my data if I delete the app? ›

If you choose to delete the app, you will not receive any notifications (alerts) from the app about coronavirus (COVID-19) and the data stored by the app on your phone will be deleted. If you decide to install the app again, you will need to provide the requested information again.

What is a venue check-in on the NHS app? ›

Venue check-ins add a count of the venue check-ins during the 6-hour analytical period. Where the check-in fails or is abandoned this is counted as well. This data is used to ensure the QR venue check in is working as expected as well as give a sense of how app users are using the function and the potential impacts.

How long after receiving the COVID-19 booster are you protected? ›

Generally, people with healthy immune systems are protected from infection for three to four months after receiving a COVID booster, but protection from severe illness lasts eight months to a year.

How does the NHS COVID-19 app protect users' anonymity while tracking the cases? ›

The app uses complex cryptography to protect you and other app users' anonymity while enabling diagnosis keys to be matched with a relevant broadcast key when relevant. Where there are matches, you will get an alert that you've been in contact with someone who tested positive.

What happens during a venue check-in on the NHS COVID-19 app? ›

Venue check-ins add a count of the venue check-ins during the 6-hour analytical period. Where the check-in fails or is abandoned this is counted as well. This data is used to ensure the QR venue check in is working as expected as well as give a sense of how app users are using the function and the potential impacts.

How long are QR codes in NHS Test and Trace app available for? ›

QR codes that are scanned by the user when visiting venues are automatically deleted after 21 days. The choice of 21 days takes into account the 14-day incubation period, and the infectious period of the virus.

How long does the virus that causes COVID-19 last on surfaces? ›

Recent research evaluated the survival of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces and reported that the virus can remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Can you take ibuprofen if you have the coronavirus disease? ›

Patients can take paracetamol or ibuprofen when self-medicating for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and headache, and should follow NHS advice if they have any questions or if symptoms get worse.

How is the COVID-19 disease transmitted? ›

COVID-19 transmits when people breathe in air contaminated by droplets and small airborne particles containing the virus. The risk of breathing these in is highest when people are in close proximity, but they can be inhaled over longer distances, particularly indoors. Transmission can also occur if splashed or sprayed with contaminated fluids in the eyes, nose or mouth, and, rarely, via contaminated surfaces.

How does COVID-19 usually spread? ›

When someone with a respiratory viral infection such as COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small particles that contain the virus which causes the infection. These particles can be breathed in or can come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Can asymptomatic people transmit COVID-19? ›

Yes, infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they don't have symptoms. This is why it is important that all people who are infected are identified by testing, isolated, and, depending on the severity of their disease, receive medical care.

How should you maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at home with possible infection? ›

Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Observe strict social distancing.

What is the best household disinfectant for surfaces during COVID-19? ›

Regular household cleaning and disinfection products will effectively eliminate the virus from household surfaces. For cleaning and disinfecting households with suspected or confirmed COVID19, surface virucidal disinfectants, such as 0.05% sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and products based on ethanol (at least 70%), should be used.

How serious is COVID-19 usually for most children? ›

For most children and young people, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

What is in the new updated COVID-19 booster shot? ›

The authorized bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, or updated boosters, include an mRNA component of the original strain to provide an immune response that is broadly protective against COVID-19 and an mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 ...

Do smokers suffer from worse COVID-19 symptoms? ›

Early research indicates that, compared to non-smokers, having a history of smoking may substantially increase the chance of adverse health outcomes for COVID-19 patients, including being admitted to intensive care, requiring mechanical ventilation and suffering severe health consequences.

Are COVID-19 tests 100% reliable? ›

No test is 100% reliable, even those who meet regulatory standards for performance and safety. The results are also only relevant to that sample at that point in time.

Is Pfizer COVID-19 booster safe? ›

Yes, booster shots are proven to be safe. Pfizer released a study of 10,000 participants in which half of them received a booster dose and half a placebo. In terms of safety, they found no new adverse events, meaning it was consistent with what has been seen in previous studies.

Does the NHS COVID-19 app delete my data if I delete the app? ›

If you choose to delete the app, you will not receive any notifications (alerts) from the app about coronavirus (COVID-19) and the data stored by the app on your phone will be deleted. If you decide to install the app again, you will need to provide the requested information again.

Does the NHS COVID-19 app protect my privacy? ›

The system gives a high level of privacy protection, as the app does not collect or transfer any information that tells us who or where you are. This also means it cannot tell the NHS, people and organisations who have contributed to the development of the app, or any other app user, who or where you are.

What is a venue check-in on the NHS app? ›

Venue check-ins add a count of the venue check-ins during the 6-hour analytical period. Where the check-in fails or is abandoned this is counted as well. This data is used to ensure the QR venue check in is working as expected as well as give a sense of how app users are using the function and the potential impacts.

Can I be traced via the NHS COVID-19 app? ›

The system gives a high level of privacy protection, as the app does not collect or transfer any information that tells us who or where you are. This also means it cannot tell the NHS, people and organisations who have contributed to the development of the app, or any other app user, who or where you are.

What is manual contact tracing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic? ›

Manual contact tracing involves asking an infected person to remember who they have been in contact with; the person can only identify the people they know.

What happens during a venue check-in on the NHS COVID-19 app? ›

Venue check-ins add a count of the venue check-ins during the 6-hour analytical period. Where the check-in fails or is abandoned this is counted as well. This data is used to ensure the QR venue check in is working as expected as well as give a sense of how app users are using the function and the potential impacts.

What is the Pakistan helpline during the COVID-19 pandemic? ›

The Pakistani authorities have announced a helpline (on phone number 1166) for people who have COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you're worried about the virus, or suspect you may have contracted it, call the helpline and follow the guidance given by the authorities.

What are 'nudgeboxes' and what are they used for? ›

5,000 DNA 'Nudgebox' machines, supplied by DnaNudge, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals in the UK to analyse DNA in nose swabs, providing a positive or negative result for COVID-19 in 90 minutes, at the point of care. The machines will process up to 15 tests on the spot each day without the need for a laboratory.

Does the NHS COVID-19 app gather analytical data? ›

Each 6-hour period, the app collects a summary count of key information. This is called the analytical data set and helps us monitor the use, performance and information about the app and its use. The data is prepared and will be sent to central systems where it used for assurance of the app, technical checks and the public health functions. It does not include the data held on your app about specific venues or your close contacts.

Videos

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