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Home isolation and COVID-19

Home isolation keeps people who are infected COVID-19 away from other people who are not infected with the virus. If you are in home isolation, you should stay there until it is safe to be around others.

How to Isolate from Other People

Learn when to isolate at home and when it is safe to be around other people.

You should isolate yourself at home if:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19, and you can recover at home
  • You have no symptoms, but tested positive for COVID-19

While in home isolation, you should separate yourself and stay away from the other people to help prevent spreading COVID-19.

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Do not leave your home except to get medical care.
  • Keep track of your symptoms (such as fever >100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), cough, shortness of breath) and stay in touch with your doctor. You may receive instructions on how to check and report your symptoms.
  • If you have severe symptoms, call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Use a face mask when you see your health care provider and anytime other people are in the same room with you.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Throw out the tissue after use.
  • Wash your hands many times a day with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Do not share personal items such as cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Wash anything you have used in soap and water.
  • Clean all "high-touch" areas in the home, such as doorknobs, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, toilets, phones, tablets, and counters and other surfaces. Use a household cleaning spray and follow instructions for use.

When to End Home Isolation

Talk with your health care provider about when it is safe to end home isolation. When it is safe depends upon your specific situation. These are the recommendations from the CDC for when it is safe to be around other people.

You think or know you had COVID-19, and you had symptoms.

If you are tested for COVID-19 after your diagnosis or after having symptoms of the illness, it is safe to be around others if ALL of the following are true:

  1. It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared
  2. You have gone at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine
  3. Your symptoms have improved (including cough, shortness of breath)

If you DID NOT get tested after your diagnosis or after having symptoms of the illness, it is safe to be around others if ALL of the following are true:

  1. It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms first appeared
  2. You have gone at least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine
  3. Your symptoms have improved (including cough, shortness of breath)

You tested positive for COVID-19, but did not have symptoms.

You can end home isolation if ALL of the following are true:

  1. You have continued to have no symptoms of COVID-19
  2. It has been 10 days since you tested positive

Although not generally recommended, in some cases, your health care provider may want you to get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you get tested, it is safe to be around others when you have no fever, your symptoms have improved, AND you have two negative test results separated by at least 24 hours.

People with weak immune systems due to a health condition or medicine may need to stay home longer than 10 days. Talk with your health care provider to find out when it's safe to be around others.

When to Call the Doctor

You should call your health care provider:

  • If you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • If you have COVID-19 and your symptoms are getting worse

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Confusion or inability to wake up
  • Blue lips or face
  • Any other symptoms that are severe or concern you

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Isolate if you are sick. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html. Updated July 17, 2020. Accessed July 25, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. When you can be around others after you had or likely had COVID-19. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/end-home-isolation.html. Updated July 16, 2020. Accessed July 25, 2020.

 

Review Date: 7/25/2020

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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