Exposed to COVID-19

If you had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may be at risk of infection. Follow these next steps since your last close contact with someone with COVID-19. It is especially important to self-quarantine and self-monitor to protect yourself, family and community. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 is encouraged to get tested.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

  • Who isolates? Anyone who tests positive or has COVID-19 symptoms should separate themselves from being around others, as much as possible. This means only going out to seek medical attention. If possible, they should stay in their own room and use a separate bathroom from everyone they live with. 
  • Who quarantines? The purpose of quarantine is to stop the spread of disease in case the person who was exposed to COVID-19 becomes infected. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 should stay home and not have contact with others, as much as possible. They should not go to work or school, see people socially, or run errands, and should monitor for symptoms. Click here to determine the length of quarantine required.

  • Read more about quarantine and isolation here


What is a close contact?
You're a "close contact" if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with the person with COVID-19, even if they didn't have symptoms:

  • People you were in contact with since 2 days before your symptoms started or 2 days before you were tested if you have no symptoms AND 
  • Had direct physical contact with the person (Ex: a hug or kiss) OR 
  • Were within 6 feet of the person for a total of more than 15 minutes in a single day OR 
  • Had contact with the person's respiratory secretions (Ex: cough, sneeze, shared drinking glass, food, towels, or other personal items) OR 
  • Live with the person or stayed overnight for at least one night in a household with the person.

*If you and/or the person with COVID-19 was wearing a face mask or covering during any of the above situations, you are still considered a close contact.


How do I self-quarantine?

  • Stay home. Avoid others. If you live with someone who has COVID-19 and you are at higher risk for serious illness, you should find an alternative living arrangement separate from the sick family member, if possible.
  • Do not go to work.
  • Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you must leave your home for essential needs, such as going to the doctor or picking up medication, always wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • Wear a mask if you have to be around others. This helps protect others by preventing respiratory droplets from getting into the air. 


How long do I need to quarantine? (Updated 12/7/20)

In response to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Winnebago County Health Department have updated quarantine guidance for close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19, effective Dec. 7. This guidance only applies to CLOSE CONTACTS (people who have not been confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, but who have had a known exposure to a COVID-19 positive person). It does not apply to people confirmed to be COVID-19 positive themselves.  

A 14-day quarantine remains the safest option and is still recommended. If a 14-day quarantine is not possible, people who DO NOT develop symptoms may now elect to end their quarantine before 14 days with continued symptom monitoring and:

  • After a full 10 days of quarantine if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. In this scenario, you would be released from quarantine on day 11 after your last known exposure to a positive case. No testing is required.
  • After a full 7 days of quarantine, with a negative test result that was collected within 48 hours of the end of quarantine. In this scenario, you would be tested on day 6 or later after your last known exposure to a positive case, and you would be released from quarantine on day 8 as long as your test result comes back negative.
  • Symptom monitoring for a full 14 days from exposure is still required with either of these options. Click here for a chart you can use to log your daily symptoms.
  • If you develop symptoms at any time during the 14-day period after exposure, immediately isolate yourself from other members of your house, contact your doctor and get tested.
  • See this sample quarantine calendar
  • Follow these next steps after exposure to COVID-19 
  • Additional quarantine guidance
  • Our staff takes you through the quaratine options in this short, informational video.


How do I self-monitor during quarantine?


Additional Resources: