Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 31, 2022
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
You are considered potentially exposed to COVID-19 if you have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.
Close contact is defined as within 6 feet of the person for a total of at least 15 minutes.
If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, here are the steps that you should take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection.
After Being Exposed to COVID-19:
Start precautions immediately
- Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed
- Start counting from Day 1
- Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19
- Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure
- Continue precautions for 10 full days; you can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed
- Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public*
- Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, including travel and public transportation settings.
- Take extra precautions if you will be around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.
Watch for symptoms
- fever (100.4°F or greater)
- shortness of breath
- other COVID-19 symptoms
If you develop symptoms
- isolate immediately
- get tested
- stay home until you know the result
- If your test result is positive, follow isolation recommendations
Get tested on Day 6
Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure
Test even if you don’t develop symptoms.
If you test positive:
- Isolate immediately
If you test negative:
- Continue taking precautions through day 10
- Wear a high-quality mask when around others at home and indoors in public
- You can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed.
If you are symptomatic, get tested. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle soreness
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you test positive for COVID-19. You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results.
When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows:
- If you had no symptoms
- Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
- Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
- If you develop symptoms within 10 days of when you were tested, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day symptoms begin
- If you had symptoms
- Day 0 of isolation is the day symptoms began, regardless of when you tested positive
- Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started
Any provider can prescribe Paxlovid or Molnupiravir, the medications available for COVID treatment. Both medications need to be started within 5 days of symptom onset, and both are widely available at local pharmacies across the state. People who have tested positive for COVID can call 1-800-456-7707 for help locating treatment.
If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home. You are likely most infectious during these first 5 days.
- Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public.
- Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.
- Do not travel.
- Stay home and separate from others as much as possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
End isolation based on how serious your COVID-19 symptoms were.
- If you had no symptoms
- You may end isolation after day 5.
- If you had symptoms
- You may end isolation after day 5 if:
- You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication)
- Your symptoms are improving
- If you still have fever or your other symptoms have not improved, continue to isolate until they improve.
- If you had moderate illness (if you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing), or severe illness (you were hospitalized) due to COVID-19, or you have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10.
- If you had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, consult your doctor before ending isolation. Ending isolation without a viral test may not be an option for you.
- If you are unsure if your symptoms are moderate or severe or if you have a weakened immune system, talk to a healthcare provider for further guidance.
Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11. Remember to wear a high-quality mask when indoors around others (at home and in public) and do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask until you are able to discontinue masking (see below), including public transportation and travel settings.
Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and are not a reason to stay in isolation if all other symptoms have improved.
After you have ended isolation, if your COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart your isolation at day 0. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation.
After you have ended isolation, when you are feeling better (no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptoms improving):
- Wear your mask through day 10.
- If you have access to antigen tests, you should consider using them. With two negative tests in a row 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.
Note: If your antigen test results are positive, you may still be infectious. You should continue wearing a mask and wait at least 48 hours before taking another test. Continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you have two negative results in a row. This may mean you need to continue wearing a mask and testing beyond day 10.
Yes, people who have COVID but no symptoms can still spread the virus to others.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
The virus is known to survive on surfaces for hours or days. It has been detected up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2 or 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.
See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Note that products are listed by their EPA Registration Number, not their brand name. EPA Registration Numbers must be printed on the product (usually in the fine print) and are two or three numbers separated by a hyphen, like 12345-12 or 12345-12-2567. Be sure to follow all label directions and precautions when using the product.