What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

April 2, 2020

People with COVID-19 usually have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath. Some people have other symptoms, including muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to be tested for COVID-19. Because testing is not widely available, VDH is prioritizing testing for people with symptoms who are hospitalized, healthcare workers, first responders, and people living in or working in congregate living settings, such as nursing homes and others. Not every person who has symptoms needs to be tested. In most instances, a positive test would not change what a doctor tells you to do to get better. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, but you have not been tested, assume that you have COVID-19. Stay home and self-isolate. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are being tested, you should stay home and self-isolate.

If you are at a higher risk of getting very sick with COVID-19, (e.g., people aged 65 years or older, people living in a nursing home or long-term care facility, people with chronic lung disease or heart conditions, people who are immunocompromised, people with diabetes, etc.) call your doctor if you develop symptoms of fever or cough.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19; stay home, rest, and separate yourself from other people in the home as much as possible.  

  • Most people will develop mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that will get better without medical help. By staying home, you reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 to others, including healthcare workers who are needed to care for the more seriously ill. If you require medical attention, call ahead.
  • 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.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of water or clear liquids. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine, such as sodas, tea, and coffee.
  • Self-isolate for at least 3 full days after you no longer have a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) AND other symptoms are greatly improved AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first started.

Notify your close contacts (e.g., household member, intimate partner, or caretaker) so that these people know to self-quarantine and stay alert for symptoms.

  • People that you live with should self-quarantine for 14 days AFTER any sick person in the household’s self-isolation period ends.
  • Other close contacts should self-quarantine for 14 days AFTER your last contact.
  • Visit Exposure to COVID-19 to learn more.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.  

  • As much as possible, stay in a specific room away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Restrict contact with pets and other animals while sick.
  • Stay in touch with others by calls (audio or video), instant messaging, or email while you are sick. You may want to ask for help and support from friends, family, or neighbors.

Wear a facemask or cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or bandana when around other people or pets.

  • If you are sick, you should wear a facemask or cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or bandana when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a doctor’s office.
  • If the person who is sick is unable to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing) then other household members should wear a facemask or cover their nose and mouth with a scarf or bandana if they enter a room with the person who is sick.

Treat symptoms with non-prescription medicines and call ahead before visiting a doctor.

  • Use over-the-counter medications based on your symptoms. Follow all usage and warning information on the label.
  • There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if your illness is getting worse (e.g., difficulty breathing or persistent fever after using fever reducing medication). Call the doctor’s office and tell them you have or may have COVID-19.
  • Get immediate medical attention if you have emergency signs (e.g., pain or pressure in the chest that doesn’t go away, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face).
  • If you need emergency medical care, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19.
Symptom Over-the-Counter Treatments*
Fever or headache or body aches Use a mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil or Motrin)
Sore throat Use a mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), throat sprays like chloraseptic spray, or cough drops
Productive cough (wet cough with mucus) Use an expectorant that contains guaifenesin (e.g., Robitussin or Mucinex)
Dry cough (without mucus) Use a cough suppressant that contains dextromethorphan (e.g., Delsym)
Both productive and dry cough Use a combination guaifenesin/dextromethorphan product (e.g., Mucinex DM or Robitussin DM) 
Stuffy/runny nose Use a nasal decongestant that contains phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine (e.g, Sudafed), saline nasal spray, or oral antihistamines (e.g., Claritin or Zyrtec)

*Always follow the advice from your healthcare provider and the instructions from the manufacturer about the medicine you take.

Cover your coughs and sneezes and clean your hands often. Avoid sharing personal items.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a lined trashcan. Wash hands right after.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol may be used. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all frequently touched surfaces daily.

  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that get touched often, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
  • Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. CDC has more information on household cleaning and disinfection.

Manage your stress and anxiety.

  • Being ill can be stressful or cause anxiety. Remember that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.
  • Being ill with COVID-19 might be especially stressful because it is a new disease and there is a lot of news coverage. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  • People with preexisting mental conditions should continue their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)

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