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What To Do If You Are Sick

I Have Symptoms, What Should I Do?

If you are sick with or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help with your treatment and recovery and to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Quarantine/Stay Home (except to seek medical care)

  • Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • Separate yourself from other people. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
  • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Getting Tested

  • Find a nearby test site. Depending on the testing site, you may be able to receive a COVID-19 antigen test (also known as a rapid test) and get results as early as 15 minutes. Some testing locations also offer the PCR test. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. Results can come back in as little as 24 hours, but generally is in the 2-3 day range. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.
  • Make an appointment to get tested if possible. In order to have accurate data about positive COVID-19 cases, which can help when evaluating transmission rates, "hot spots", and new strains, it is recommended to get tested if you can safely do so. 

Talking to your Doctor

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor. The processes for medical visits for routine care have changed drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many appointments are being done by phone or telemedicine, or check in procedures for in-person appointments may have changed. 
  • If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

Prevent the spread

  • Wear a facemask. If you are experiencing symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, you should wear a cloth face covering, over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home)
    • You don’t need to wear the cloth face covering if you are alone. If you can’t put on a cloth face covering (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove the covering without help.
  • Coughing & Sneezing
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
    • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean Your Hands Often
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
    • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
    • Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Handwashing Tips
  • Avoid Sharing Personal Household Items
    • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
    • Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
  • Clean All “High-Touch” Surfaces Everyday
    • High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
      • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom; wear disposable gloves. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but you should clean your bedroom and bathroom, if possible.
    • Use household cleaners and disinfectants. Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
      • Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
      • Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
      • Most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. A full list of disinfectants can be found here.
      • Complete Disinfection Guidance
    • If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other person should wear a mask and disposable gloves prior to cleaning. They should wait as long as possible after the person who is sick has used the bathroom before coming in to clean and use the bathroom.

Treatment (non-emergency)

  • The FDA has given emergency use authorization to "Monoclonal Antibody Therapies" as a treatment option for COVID-19 positive patients, especially high-risk patients, with mild to moderate symptoms, but treatment needs to begin quickly after testing positive. Please ask your doctor more about this treatment if you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19. This two-hour treatment may help boost your immune response and avoid time in the hospital.

When it’s Safe to be Around Others After Being Sick with COVID-19

Deciding when it is safe to be around others is different for different situations. Find out when you can safely end home isolation.

Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

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