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When Can I Be Around A Friend Who Had COVID-19?

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You can spend time around a friend who had COVID19 when that friend’s home isolation period ends.  More information from the CDC on this can be found here.  The overview:

If your friend had symptoms that were not severe (did not require hospitalization) and is not immunocompromised, you can probably safely be around them after

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving**Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

If your friend tested positive for COVID19 but had no symptoms and is not immunocompromised, you can be around them after 10 days have passed since they had the positive viral test.

If your friend was hospitalized for severe COVID19 or if they are immunocompromised, infectious virus may take longer to clear.  In this case, they may need to self-isolate at home up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared, or they may require testing to determine when they can be around others. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information. Your doctor may work with an infectious disease expert or your local health department to determine whether testing will be necessary before you can be around them.

Note that most people who have had COVID19 do not require testing to decide when they can be around others.  Because the duration of shedding of viral particles can last for weeks, long after those particles remain infectious, the current recommendations for home isolation focus on length of time since diagnosis, and whether the person had severe infection or is immunocompromised for the best sense of how long they may shed infectious particles.  If you want to be safest, you can add a few days to the end of the above recommendations before spending time with someone who’s recently had COVID19.

Jennifer Abrams, MD, August 17, 2020