What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19?


Protect Your Health

What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19?

How you can be exposed to COVID-19

How COVID-19 spreads

COVID-19 is spread by breathing in air that has small droplets and particles that contain the virus. It can also be spread by these droplets and particles landing in someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth. In some circumstances, the infected person may contaminate surfaces they touch, but this is uncommon.

Exposure risks

Certain factors can increase or decrease your risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These include:

  • Length of time: How longer were you around the infected person?
  • Coughing or heavy breathing: Was the infected person coughing, singing, shouting, or breathing heavily?
  • Symptoms: Did the infected person have symptoms at the time?
  • Masks: Were you or the infected person or both wearing a respirator (for example, N95) or high-quality mask?
  • Ventilation and filtration: How well-ventilated was the space?
  • Distance: How close was the infected person to you?

What to do if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19*

  • Wearing a mask for 10 days after exposure may help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.
    • Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19.
    • Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.
  • If you choose to, get tested on Day 6. 
  • Continue wearing a mask when around others inside your home or indoors in public until day 10
  • Check for symptoms of COVID-19 [Español]

If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 isolate immediately. Learn about what to do on  VDH’s If you are sick webpage.

*This guidance does not apply to healthcare or high-risk congregate settings.  Please refer to the following sites for more information:

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For more information:

Page Last Reviewed: November 22, 2022

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