What isolation is needed for people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
The CDC defines “close contacts” as people who have been within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a “prolonged period of time” (greater than 10 or 15 minutes) while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case or people who have had direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on). Importantly, this is IRRESPECTIVE of whether either person was wearing a face covering.
If you have been consistently using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation and do not have symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days and closely monitor yourself for any symptoms (check temperature twice a day, watch for cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms).
If you were exposed, testing may or may not be helpful depending on the timing of the exposure. If you opt to get tested after exposure, you should quarantine until the test results are returned. Most importantly, remember that a negative test only means you were probably not infected at the time of the actual swab. A negative test does NOT guarantee you will not become ill or that you will not spread the virus. In other words, a negative test cannot tell you you are “safe”- safety is based on your choices and behaviors, not testing. Please read more on this topic in our FAQ- “Am I safe to visit high-risk relatives if I just had a negative COVID-19 nasal swab?” (July 8, 2020)