What to do if you were potentially exposed to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

April 2, 2020

COVID-19 is spreading in communities across Virginia. VDH urges all Virginians to stay home and practice social distancing. If you have to go out for critical things like grocery shopping or medical care, stay at least 6 feet away from others. Do your part to stop the spread by taking everyday precautions, including: washing your hands often, covering your coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Check out VDH’s Prevention Tips to learn more.

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Spread occurs between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is growing evidence that people can spread COVID-19 even if they never develop symptoms or before their symptoms start. Even though this is possible, CDC believes that people are most contagious when they have symptoms. Everyone should limit their exposure by staying home.

You are at a higher risk of getting sick if you are:

  • Living in the same household as a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Providing care in a household for a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Within 6 feet (or 2 meters) of a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19 for at least 10 minutes, or
  • In direct contact with secretions from a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

If you had close contact with a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19 without lab testing, self-quarantine (stay home) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after your last contact. If you live in the same household as someone who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19, self-quarantine for 14 days after any sick person in the household’s self-isolation period ends. View the VDH When to End Home Isolation and Quarantine Infographic for more.

To monitor your health, take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day (once in the morning, once at night) and watch for fever. Also, watch for cough or trouble breathing. You can download VDH’s Daily Symptom Monitoring Log to help keep track of your symptoms.

Self-quarantine means you need to stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares, if possible. Your local health department can assist you with making sure that your basic needs (for example, food and medication) are being met. People with certain jobs (e.g., healthcare workers) may be allowed to go to work. Before you go to work, please work with your supervisor or occupational health staff to arrange ways for you to check your symptoms before you go to work.

If you start to feel sick, isolate yourself at home. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other common symptoms include fatigue, decreased appetite, and muscle or body aches. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have all symptoms and fever might not be present. Not every person who has been exposed to COVID-19 or feels sick needs to be tested. In most instances, a positive test would not change what a doctor tells you to do to get better. Learn more about what to do if you feel sick.

For more information:

  • Visit Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) COVID-19 website
  • Read VDH’s FAQs for Exposure to COVID-19
  • Call VDH COVID-19 hotline at 877-ASK-VDH3