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

ماذا تفعل إذا كان من المحتمل تعرضك لمرض فيروس كورونا (كوفيد-19)؟ | 코로나 바이러스(COVID-19)에 노출되었을 가능성이 있는 경우에는 어떻게 해야 하는가? | 如果您可能已经接触到冠状病毒 (COVID-19) 感染者,该怎么办? | ¿Qué hacer en caso de haberse encontrado potencialmente expuesto a la enfermedad por coronavirus (COVID-19)? | Kisa w dwe fè si toutfwa ou ta ekspoze ak maladi kowonaviris (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is spreading in communities across Virginia.VDH strongly advises all Virginians to stay home as much as possible, especially if you are at higher risk of serious illness. Keep at least 6 feet apart between yourself and others. Wear a cloth face covering when keeping 6 feet apart is difficult, such as in stores or other public places. Wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and disinfect high-touch surfaces. These all are very important ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 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. Everyone should limit their exposure by staying home as much as possible.

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 15 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., critical infrastructure 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 for symptoms before you go to work. Learn more about VDH’s recommendations for potential exposures for critical infrastructure workers.

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 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.  If you do have symptoms and want to get tested for COVID-19, please reach out to your healthcare provider. Your provider may collect samples to test you or help you to find sampling sites in your area. Learn more about what to do if you feel sick.

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Page last reviewed: May 27, 2020