COVID-19: Navigating exposure and symptoms

If you believe you have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms concerning for COVID-19, Welia Health recommends you follow these guidelines.

Exposure and close contact

What is exposure?

Any close contact with someone who has tested positive with or without symptoms.

What is close contact?

Close contact with others includes:

  • being within 6 feet or less for 15 minutes or more throughout the course of a day (24 hours)
  • caring for someone with COVID-19
  • touching
  • hugging and/or kissing
  • sharing eating or drinking utensils
  • being sneezed or coughed on

Quarantine if:

You have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 either:

  • 2 days prior to them developing symptoms and anytime during their isolation period
  • OR 2 days prior to their positive test if they do not have symptoms and anytime during their isolation period

Symptoms

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and start about 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include, but are not limited to:

  • 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

Seek emergency medical care of call 9-1-1 if you being experiencing any of the following:

  • trouble breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • new confusion
  • inability to wake or stay awake
  • pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nailbeds, depending upon skin tone

Quarantine

If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to quarantine. During quarantine, you will:

  • stay home to prevent infecting others
  • monitor your self for symptoms of COVID-19
  • get tested if you develop any symptoms

If you have been vaccinated for COVID-19:
If the exposure was greater than 2 weeks following the second dose in a 2-dose series or greater than 2 weeks after receiving one dose of a single dose vaccine, AND

  • you have remained asymptomatic (without symptoms) since the current COVID-19 exposure AND
  • you do not work in a healthcare setting, then you do NOT have to quarantine. Please continue to wear a mask and social distance.

If you work in a healthcare setting, follow your employer’s guidance.

Quarantine for 14 days if:

  • someone in your home has COVID-19
  • you live in a building with other people where it’s hard to say away from others

Quarantine for 10 days if:

  • you do not have any symptoms
  • AND you have not tested positive for COVID-19
  • AND no one in your home has tested positive for COVID-19
  • AND you do not live in a building with other people where it’s hard to stay away from others

Quarantine for 7 days if:

  • you choose to test no less than 5 days after the close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • AND you have a negative test result
  • AND you do not have any symptoms
  • AND no one in your home has COVID-19 and you do not live in a building with other people where it’s hard to stay away from others

DO NOT end your quarantine period before 7 days for any reason

If you work in healthcare, your employer will have specific return to work guidance to follow.

During any quarantine period, continue to monitor symptoms through day 14, get tested if you develop symptoms, practice social distancing staying 6 feet from others, avoid large crowds, wear a mask and wash your hands often.

Isolation

What is self-isolation?
Staying home and separating yourself from others, if you have symptoms or have a positive COVID-19 test result to prevent infecting others.

When should I isolate?

  • if you have symptoms for COVID-19, isolate yourself at home and get tested for COVID-19.
  • if you test positive for COVID-19, isolate yourself at home.

How long should isolation last?

  • no less than 10 days from the start of your symptoms or if no symptoms, 10 days from the date of your test.
  • AND your overall symptoms have improved
  • AND you are fever free to at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.

If you do not meet this criterion, you need to stay in isolation until it can be met. When coming out of isolation, both the CDC and MDH continue to strongly recommend masking and social distancing for those who have not been vaccinated.

For those that have been fully vaccinated, the guidelines state that masks are not required indoors or outdoors unless the specific location you are at requires it. Masks and social distancing are still required in medical and child care settings, schools, and during the use of public transportation whether you are vaccinated or not.

Are there times when isolation should last longer?

In the following cases, a longer isolation period is recommended if you:

  • have severe illness with blood oxygen levels that are continually lower than 90% (or for patients with chronic low oxygen, a 3% decrease from baseline).
  • have required hospitalization for COVID-19
  • are severely immunocompromised.

Isolate for at least 20 days from either 1) the date you began experiencing symptoms, or 2), if you are not experiencing symptoms, the date of your positive COVID-19 test.

What if you have symptoms and your COVID-19 test is negative?

While a negative test result is reassuring, there is a 20-40% that your COVID-19 test is a false negative and you may have COVID-19

  • Isolate yourself at home for no less than 10 days regardless of your COVID-19 test result
  • You can come out of isolation when you meet the criteria listed in how long isolation should last section.

Caring for yourself at home

How should you care for yourself during COVID-19 illness?

Most individuals can recover from COVID-19 at home. It is helpful to record in a logbook and monitor:

  • days of illness
  • temperature
  • blood oxygen level with a pulse oximeter
  • other symptoms

Focus on getting rest, drinking fluids (enough to urinate 4-6 times a day), and use acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed on package for pain and fever control.

If you experience shortness of breath that is not severe, follow these body positioning instructions:

  • Do not lay flat on your back, laying in other positions and changing positions often helps open your lungs.
  • Change position every 30 minutes to 2 hours. Rotate between lying on your left side, stomach, right side, sitting up, and in a reclining position propped up with 2-3 pillows.

If your blood oxygen level drops to 90 percent or less, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you develop increased trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to stay awake, or pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds, depending upon skin tone, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Other questions or concerns can be answered by your primary care provider.