Sick or Exposed to COVID-19

Isolation & Quarantine Updates: On Monday, December 27, 2021, the CDC updated recommended isolation and quarantine guidance. This page has been updated to reflect current recommendations. We are currently working on updating all other materials on our website.

There are many possible symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath. See guidance below on what to do if you tested positive for COVID-19, were exposed, or if someone in your home has COVID-19.

Isolation vs. quarantine:

You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may have been infected.

    • Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated.
    • Stay home, monitor for symptoms, and get tested 5 days after exposure. Learn how to monitor for symptoms here.
    • Wear a mask if you have to be around others.

You isolate when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.

  • Restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
  • Separate from others as much as possible. Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible.
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas.
  • Wear a mask if you have to be around others.

Read more about quarantine and isolation here.

What is a close contact?

An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting two days before they have symptoms or two days before testing if they do not have symptoms. For this reason, "close contacts" include anyone in contact with a person with COVID-19 during the two days prior to symptoms or testing, until they meet the criteria to end isolation.

Close contact includes:

  • Living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, OR
  • Being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 15 minutes (with or without a mask), OR
  • Someone with COVID-19 coughing on you, kissing you, sharing utensils with you or you had direct contact with their body secretions.
  • 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.

Read more about close contacts here.

 

Isolation Guidance:

Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is showing symptoms of COVID-19 needs to isolate regardless of their vaccination status. This includes:

Stay home and isolate yourself away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 is the day symptoms began or the day the test was taken for those who are not experiencing any symptoms). You must wear a mask when around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days.

What to do for isolation:

  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately. 
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible. 
  • Wear a well-fitted mask when you need to be around others. 
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible. 
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible. 
  • Avoid contact with other members if the household and pets.
  • Do not share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Follow the guidance provided in this letter from the Winnebago County Health Department. Contact the health department for additional languages.

 

Ending isolation for people who tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms:

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms develop. You must isolate yourself for 5 full days. 

  • You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) AND your symptoms have largely resolved. 
  • If after 5 days of isolation, you continue to have a fever or your symptoms have not largely resolved, you should wait to end your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours and your symptoms have largely resolved. Continue to wear a well-fitted mask. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions. 
  • You must continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days after the end of your 5-day isolation. If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you must continue to isolate yourself for a full 10 days.

 

Ending isolation for people who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not experience any symptoms:

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and never develop symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days. To calculate your 5-day isolation period, day 0 is the day you were tested. Day 1 is the first full day after your specimen was collected for your positive test. You must isolate yourself for 5 full days.

  • You can end isolation after 5 full days if symptoms have not developed. 
  • If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Follow the guidance bove for ending isolation for people who tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms.  
  • You must continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days after the end of your 5-day isolation. If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, you must continue to isolate yourself for a full 10 days.

 

Ending isolation for people who were severely ill with COVID-19 or have weakened immune systems (immunocompromised):

  • The CDC recommends that people who are severely ill with COVID-19 and people with compromised immune systems isolate from 10 to 20 days. They may also require a viral test to determine when they can be around others. Consult with your healthcare provider about when you can resume being around other people.
  • People who are immunocompromised should talk to their healthcare provider about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and the need to continue to follow all current prevention measures. Close contacts of immunocompromised people - including household members - are encouraged to follow all current prevention measures to help protect these people.  

Quarantine Guidance:

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets and aerosols. If you find out that you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you are at risk of infection.

 

You've been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 & you meet this criteria:

  • Have been boosted OR
  • Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR
  • Completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months OR
  • Tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Then:

  • Wear a well-fitted mask around others for 10 days since your last contact.
  • Test 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms. If you test positive or develop symptoms, isolate from others and follow the isolation guidance above.

-If you tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days you do not need to get tested after close contact. 

 

OR You've have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 & you meet this criteria :

  • Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR
  • Completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted OR
  • Tested positive for COVID-19 over 90 days ago OR
  • Are unvaccinated 

Then:

  • Stay home and quarantine for 5 days since your last contact. Day 0 is the last date of close contact. Day 1 is the first full day after the last date of close contact. You must stay home and quarantine for a full 5 days. 
  • After a full 5 days of quarantine, continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • If you can’t quarantine, you must wear a mask around others for 10 days. We strongly recommend quarantine as the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID.
  • Test 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms.

- If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to wear a well-fitted mask when around others at home and in public until 10 days after your last close contact. 

- If you test positive, you should isolate for at least 5 days from the day you were tested (if you do not have symptoms). If you develop symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days from the date your symptoms began. Follow the guidance above for isolation. 

- If you are unable to get test 5 days after last close contact with someone with COVID-19, you can leave your home after day 5 if you have been without symptoms throughout the 5-day period. Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days after your date of last close contact when around others at home and in public. 

 

After Quarantine:

  • Regardless of vaccination status, watch for symptoms until 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19. 
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested.

I’m a health care worker

Health care workers are subject to different recommendations due to widespread exposure to COVID-19 and their critical role.

Health care workers may follow CDC guidelines for critical workers if their employers want them to return to work.

Additional Resources:

  • If you need documentation for work/school/travel regarding isolation and quarantine dates visit this page.
  • Reminder: Someone who is sick with COVID-19 can spread it to others two days before they show any symptoms. Not everyone with COVID-19 will get sick. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but never had symptoms, may still be able to spread it to others.  
    • Once you test positive, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) does not recommend additional testing for at least 3 months from when your first symptoms developed. If you have new symptoms before 3 months or are immunocompromised, talk to your doctor about additional testing.
    • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (Source: CDC)

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