How Long Should You Quarantine After Being Exposed to COVID-19

February 1, 2021
How Long Should You Quarantine After Being Exposed to COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly contagious illness that primarily spreads via respiratory droplets that become airborne when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, and are then inhaled by an uninfected person. To help prevent the widespread transmission of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you quarantine—or separate yourself from other people—for 14 days after you are exposed. “Exposed” means you had close contact with a person who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19. “Close contact” means you were within a physical distance of 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer.

Because you can develop COVID-19 symptoms up to 14 days after an exposure, the CDC recommends the 14-day quarantine as a general guideline. Quarantining for this amount of time is the best way to confirm, without testing, that you are not infected with COVID-19 and cannot spread the virus to others.

How to Quarantine

During your 14-day quarantine, you should stay home unless you must leave for an essential medical appointment or an emergency. Do not go to work, school, the grocery store, the post office, or anywhere else, and do not invite guests into your home. Separate yourself as much as possible from other household members and pets. If you cannot use a separate bedroom and bathroom, wear a cloth face mask. Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, bedding, towels, and other personal items with anyone else.

According to the CDC, you may be able to end your quarantine early under certain circumstances. For instance, if you do not have symptoms, you can end your quarantine on day 10. If you do not have symptoms and receive a negative COVID-19 test, you can end your quarantine on day 7.

How to Treat COVID-19

Whether you are quarantining because you are confirmed to have COVID-19 or you think you might have COVID-19, there are self-care measures you can take to improve your comfort. Keep a close watch on your symptoms (if any) and periodically check your body temperature. If your fever or other symptoms worsen, contact a medical provider right away and be sure to explain that you have (or might have) COVID-19. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water to stay well-hydrated. If necessary, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever or fever reducer as directed to help you feel better as you recover from your illness.

An Exception to the 14-Day Quarantine Guideline

With all of that said, you do not need to quarantine if you underwent COVID-19 testing within the last 90 days and were confirmed to be infected, you have fully recovered from your illness and do not currently have symptoms, and you were exposed to COVID-19 again. Even so, you should still take general precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19, which include:

  • Maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and often
  • Wearing a cloth face mask in public places

We Offer Convenient COVID-19 Testing & Other Urgent Care Services

COVID-19 testing is available every day at all PhysicianOne Urgent Care locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. If you would like to be evaluated and tested for COVIID-19, we ask that you make an advance reservation before visiting our urgent care center. We continue to see patients for other non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries on a walk-in basis.

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