If You Are Sick or Test Positive: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health
CDC has updated their COVID-19 guidance to help you better understand how to protect yourself and others, and what to do if you test positive or are exposed. More information is available at CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others. MDH is actively working on updating our website and materials.

If You Are Sick or Test Positive: COVID-19

On this page:
Definitions
If you feel sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms
If you test positive or have symptoms
How long to stay home
Going to the doctor
Caring for someone who is sick
Setting-specific recommendations
Vaccination after having COVID-19

It is important to separate yourself from others (isolate) if you feel sick or test positive, so you do not spread the COVID-19 virus to others. You should follow the recommendations for isolation even if you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and even if you have had COVID-19 in the past since you can get it more than once. It is possible to spread the virus to others even if you are vaccinated or do not have symptoms.

For more details on how long to stay home (isolation), refer to CDC: Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19. People who live or work in certain high-risk settings may have different isolation guidance they need to follow. Refer to setting-specific recommendations.

Definitions

Isolation: Staying home and away from others when you test positive, feel sick, or have symptoms of COVID-19. This will help to keep you from spreading COVID-19 to other people.

High-quality and well-fitting mask: A well-fitting mask is one that fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin and does not have gaps around the edges. For information on high-quality masks, refer to types of masks.

Immunocompromised: A person with a weakened immune system. The immune system is how the body fights disease.

Severe illness: A person with COVID-19 may need to stay in the hospital for a while.

Moderate illness: A person may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

If you feel sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms

Everyone, whether or not you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccination (refer to CDC: Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines), should:

  • Get tested right away. Refer to the testing tips section below for more information.
  • Stay home and away from others as soon as you notice symptoms and while you wait for your test result. Follow the how long to stay home section below.
  • Wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask if you must be around others (for example: going to get tested), even in your home.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water. Wash for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have soap and water, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. For more tips, visit Hand Hygiene.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue to cover your cough. Throw used tissues in the trash. Wash your hands.
  • Caregivers in settings other than health care may refer to CDC: Caring for Someone Sick at Home for more information on how to provide patient support.

Testing tips

Testing remains an important tool for preventing spread of COVID-19. There are many testing options including clinics, community testing sites, and tests you can do yourself which give rapid results (self-tests).

If you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you should still get tested if you have symptoms, but use an antigen test instead of a PCR or other molecular test because molecular tests can continue to detect the COVID-19 virus even after you feel better.

For anyone using an antigen test, such as a self-test, if you have symptoms and you have a negative antigen test, you should do another test to confirm the result.

  • If you are using an antigen self-test that comes with two or more tests in the package, you should use the second test within the time period stated in the manufacturer's instructions.
  • If you got an antigen test at a clinic or other testing location, get another antigen test in 24 to 48 hours.
  • If you have not had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you could get a PCR or other molecular test to confirm your result.

This is not a full list of all testing recommendations. Visit COVID-19 Testing for more testing details.

If you continue to have negative test results for COVID-19 but still have symptoms, stay home until your symptoms are improving and you have not had a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-lowering medication. If you have concerns, talk to your health care provider for additional guidance.

If you test positive or have symptoms

  • Stay home and away from others (isolate) for at least five full days. Refer to the how long to stay home section below for more details and information on how to count the days.
    • You can spread COVID-19 to others starting a couple days before you have any symptoms, and even if you never have any symptoms.
  • Wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask when you need to be around other people, even at home.
  • Avoid contact with other people in your household and stay in a separate room, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Try to make the flow of air in your home better, if possible. Refer to Indoor Air Considerations.
  • Tell people who had close contact with you, including people who are fully vaccinated, that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and share the information on Close Contact or Exposure to COVID-19.

COVIDaware

If you live in Minnesota, test positive, and use the COVIDaware app, you also have the option to enter a verification code in the app to anonymously let other users know you tested positive. This notification allows other people who have the app on their phone to receive an alert letting them know they were exposed so they can take precautions if needed. The app works best if you had it on your phone before you got sick. You can use the app whether you tested positive through a laboratory test or a self-test. For more information about COVIDaware, including how to get a code, visit COVIDaware MN.

If you are at high risk for getting very ill and you test positive, contact your health care provider right away to see if you should receive treatment (medication). Treatment should be started within five to seven days from the start of symptoms, even if symptoms are mild.

People at higher risk include those who are older; have chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, or kidney disease; or who have a weakened immune system. Go to COVID-19 Medications for more information about risk factors and treatment options.

Text notifications for people with COVID-19

Lab tests for COVID-19 are reported to the health department the same way other infectious diseases are reported.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may receive a text message from MDH at the number you provided when you got tested by the lab. The text will come from phone number 877-790-8031.

The text message is available in multiple languages and provides a phone number and link to our website where you can access information on the most current public health recommendations and resources.

Keeping people informed is important for helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota.

We may also send you informational text messages, phone calls, and emails about vaccines and testing. Visit COVID-19 Messages from the State of Minnesota for more information.

Scam warning: Please note that the MDH will never ask for any financial information, your social security number, or insurance information during or after a case investigation. If you receive a communication from someone claiming they are MDH staff that asks for any of this information, do not provide this information to them, as it is likely a scam.

How long to stay home

To find out how long you need to stay home (isolate), read the category below that describes you:

Timeline for those needing to isolate: wear a mask for 10 full days, stay home for 5 days, return to most activities if you feel better on day six, and continue to wear a mask through day 10.

Wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask for 10 full days when around others (until the start of day 11), even at home. If you have symptoms, the day your symptoms started is day zero. If you do not have symptoms, the day you got tested is day zero.

If you have symptoms:

Stay home and away from others until all three of the following are true:

  1. It is at least five full days since you first felt sick. Day zero is the day your symptoms started. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started.
  2. You have had no fever (your temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
  3. You feel better. Your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better.

On day six, if all of these things are true, your period to stay home is over and you can resume most activities. Continue to follow recommendations listed below through day 10. If you do not feel better by day six, continue to stay home until all the above are true.

If you do not have symptoms:

  • Stay home and away from others for at least five full days after your test date. Day zero is the day you got tested. Day one is the first full day after the day of your test.
    • If you develop symptoms during this time, you must start over. Day zero is the day your symptoms start. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started. Refer to the section above on what to do if you have symptoms.
  • You can resume most activities on day six. Continue to follow recommendations listed below through day 10.

After your period to stay home ends, continue to do the following through day 10:

  • Continue to wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask, even at home.
  • Do not be around others who are at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 at least until day 11, including older adults, people living in long-term care facilities, and people with health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or weakened immune systems.
  • Do not go to places where you will need to take off your mask to take part in an activity (e.g., gyms, restaurants) and avoid eating near others, including at home.
  • Avoid travel. If you must travel after your period to stay home ends, wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask.
  • CDC guidance provides an option to consider use of COVID-19 antigen tests (self-tests) to find out if you can remove your mask before day 11. If your stay at home period has ended (it is at least day 6) and you are feeling better (no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-lowering medications and symptoms improving), you can take two antigen tests 48 hours apart, and if both are negative, you may stop wearing a mask.
    • This means the earliest you would be able to stop wearing a mask is day 8. Take the first test on day 6, the second test on day 8.
    • If both test results are negative, you may stop wearing a mask but continue to be cautious around others who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Antigen tests are designed to detect infection, not necessarily determine if someone is still able to spread the virus (contagious).
    • If either test result is positive, you should 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.
    • For more information on antigen tests you can do at home, including resources for getting free tests, visit COVID-19 Self-testing.

This includes people under age 2, people with certain disabilities, and others who cannot consistently wear a mask around others.

Timeline for those needing to isolate: stay home for 10 days and return to normal activites on day 11.

Stay home for at least 10 full days. The 10 days start the day after you got symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, the 10 days start the day after you got tested. Count the actual day you got symptoms or got tested as day zero.

If you are feeling better on day six of staying home, (no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-lowering medications and your symptoms are improving), you can continue to stay home for the full 10-day period or you can consider the use of testing to determine when you can end your stay at home period (isolation).

For the testing option, on day 6 or later, take two antigen tests 48 hours apart. If both are negative, you can end your isolation period. If either antigen test result is positive, you should continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you have two negative results in a row. Continue to isolate until the testing criteria have been met. If you end isolation before the full 10-day period based on two negative tests, you should continue to be cautious around others who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Antigen tests are designed to detect infection, not necessarily determine if someone is still able to spread the virus (contagious).

If you have moderate illness (if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing), or severe illness (you are hospitalized) due to COVID-19, or you have a weakened immune system, you should stay home (isolate) through at least day 10.

If you have severe illness or 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 doctor to see what is best for you.

Day zero is the day your symptoms start. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started.

Wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask around others, even at home.

If symptoms come back or get worse

After your period to stay home ends, if your COVID-19 symptoms come back or get worse, restart your isolation at day zero. Talk to a health care provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation.

Going to the doctor

  • Call ahead before going to see a health care provider.
  • Get medical care right away if your illness is getting worse (for example, if you have trouble breathing). Symptoms get worse for some people during the second week of illness. Call first if you can and tell them your symptoms.
  • Low oxygen levels can be an early warning sign that people need medical care. For more information, refer to Oxygen Levels, Pulse Oximeters, and COVID-19.
  • Resources to Find Low-Cost Health Care or get Health Insurance
    Available in multiple languages.

Caring for someone who is sick

  • If someone in your household gets sick, do your best to keep them away from others in the house. Have one person take care of the person who is sick. Stay 6 feet away from the person who is sick as much as you can, even if you are vaccinated. The caregiver(s) and the person who is sick should wear high-quality and well-fitting masks when in the same room.
  • Caregivers and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should wear a high-quality and well-fitting mask through day 10 after their last exposure to the person who has COVID-19. For more information, refer to Close Contact or Exposure to COVID-19.

Setting-specific recommendations

These recommendations do not apply to certain high-risk settings. For guidance on isolation and managing exposures in health care settings or other high-risk group living settings:

  • People who live or work in a health care or long-term care facility and are exposed to the COVID-19 virus should follow Health Care Worker Isolation and Quarantine Recommendations.
  • People who live or work in group living and care facilities, such as a homeless shelter or correctional facility, and are exposed to the virus should follow Congregate Settings and Care Facilities: COVID-19.
  • Businesses, facilities, or other private settings are encouraged to follow MDH and CDC guidance at a minimum but may choose to require longer isolation or quarantine periods.

Vaccination after having COVID-19

  • If you are not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated. You can get vaccinated after you have completed your isolation period and are feeling better.
  • People who have recently had COVID-19 may consider waiting 3 months to get vaccinated because they may have some protection after being infected with COVID-19, but that protection decreases quickly over time. Certain factors, such as personal risk of severe disease, local COVID-19 community level, and the most common COVID-19 variant currently causing illness, could be reasons to get a vaccine sooner rather than later. It also takes time to build up immunity after receiving your primary series vaccine doses, so people may not want to delay those doses as long.
  • Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect yourself from getting very sick with COVID-19.
  • For more information, visit About COVID-19 Vaccine.

Updated Tuesday, 04-Oct-2022 10:25:22 CDT