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

ماذا تفعل إذا تأكدت أو اشتبهت في الإصابة بمرض فيروس كورونا (كوفيد-19)؟ | 코로나 바이러스(COVID-19)로 진단을 받았거나 의심 소견이 있을 경우에는 어떻게 해야 하는가? | 如果您已经确认或怀疑感染了冠状病毒疾病(COVID-19),该怎么办?| ¿Qué hacer en caso de infección sospechada o confirmada de coronavirus (COVID-19)? | Kisa pou w fè si w konfime oswa sispèk ak maladi kowonaviris (COVID-19)?

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 chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have all symptoms and fever might not be present. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

 If you do have symptoms and want to get tested for COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider. Your provider may collect samples to test you or help you to find sampling sites in your area. For additional information on testing sites in your area, visit the Virginia COVID-19 Testing Sites

Further, 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 of any age with with severe medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes or weakened immune systems) call your doctor if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19: stay home and separate yourself from other people in the home as much as possible. This is known as home isolation.

  • Most people will develop mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that will get better without medical help. If you require medical attention, call ahead to your healthcare provider. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. 
  • Avoid using public transportation, such as buses, trains, ride-sharing, or taxis. Avoid all public areas.
  • Self-isolate until you meet the criteria to end home isolation.
    • If you had COVID-19 symptoms and were directed to care for yourself at home, you can leave your “sick room” and home after you have had no fever for at least 3 days (that is 72 hours of no fever without fever-reducing medicine), AND other respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved), AND at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.  

  • Stay away from others. As much as possible, separate yourself from others in your home. Stay in a specific “sick room”. 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.

Inform your close contacts that you are sick so that these people know to self-quarantine and stay alert for symptoms.

  • Call your contacts and tell them you are sick. By sharing your information with others, you can slow the spread of illness.
  • Talk to everyone who you have been within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes while you were sick, including the 48 hours BEFORE you developed symptoms.
  • People that you live with should self-quarantine and monitor their health for 14 days AFTER any sick person in the household’s self-isolation period ends. Other close contacts should self-quarantine and monitor their health for 14 days AFTER your last contact.

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.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of water or clear liquids. Avoid alcohol or drinks with caffeine, such as sodas, tea, and coffee.
  • 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 any medical emergency. Call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you have or may have COVID-19. Emergency warning signs of COVID-19 can include; trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.
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.

Wear a facemask or cloth face covering when around other people or pets.

  • If you are sick, you should wear a facemask or cloth face covering 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 cloth face covering if they enter a room with the person who is sick.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. You do not need to wear the cloth face covering if you are alone. Learn more about cloth face coverings.

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 trash can. 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 pre-existing 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 or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, 

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)

While children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults, VDH, CDC and other public health staff are investigating Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children (MIS-C) linked to COVID-19.  MIS-C may cause problems with a child’s heart and other systems in the body.  Signs and symptoms of MIS-C include fever, belly or gut pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, rash, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, or swollen hands and feet.

If your child has any of these signs or other symptoms of COVID-19, contact your pediatrician.  If your child is showing any emergency warning signs including trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that won’t go away, new confusion, can’t wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face, severe belly pain, or other concerning signs, seek emergency care right away.

For more information:

Page last reviewed: May 21, 2020