Steps to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Overview

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. To limit the spread of COVID-19, follow these steps if you have symptoms, if you test positive, or if you had close contact with someone who is sick.

 

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If You Have Symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or other symptoms), isolate yourself. You should get tested immediately, even if you are fully vaccinated, had a previous COVID-19 diagnosis, or already had a negative test. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.

If You Test Positive

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without care from a doctor. Older adults and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. Seek care early.

If you test positive, even if you are fully vaccinated, follow these steps:

  • Stay home until:
    • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms started or you tested positive AND
    • You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the help of medicine) AND
    • Your symptoms have improved.
  • Stay away from others.
    • Stay 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) away from others.
    • Do not share personal items.
    • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Stay in touch with your doctor.
    • Work with your doctor to see if you are eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies as treatment for your COVID-19 infection.
    • Call first if you need to see your doctor or urgent care.
    • Call 9-1-1 if you need help right away. For example, if you have trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion, or bluish lips or face.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot at least daily. See the CDC’s guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when around other people.
  • Make sure the room has good air flow, if you have to share space. Open the window to increase air circulation. Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
  • Answer the Call: COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing. If you test positive for COVID-19, Arlington County Public Health will call you to ask about your symptoms, people you were with, and your activities.
  • Notify people you have had close contact with. This means within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Tell them to stay home and away from others for 14 days. You may wish to share the guidance for “If You Had Close Contact with Someone Who Is Sick.”
    • If you have symptoms, you were able to spread COVID-19 starting two days before your symptoms began.
    • If you do not have symptoms, you were able to spread COVID-19 starting two days before you tested positive.
    • See the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19: How to Notify Your Contacts, for help identifying and talking to your close contacts.
  • Get vaccinated or complete all necessary doses. Wait until you have recovered and meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation.

If You Had Close Contact with Someone Who Is Sick

Fully Vaccinated

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • Work with your doctor to see if you are eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies as post-exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment).
  • Get tested 5-7 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following your exposure or until your test result is negative.
  • Follow guidance if your test result is positive.

If your exposure to the sick person is on-going:

  • Work with your doctor to see if you are eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies as post-exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment).
  • Get tested 5-7 days after your first exposure, even if you don't have symptomsA person with COVID-19 is considered infectious starting 2 days before they develop symptoms, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they do not have symptoms.
  • Get tested again 5-7 days after the end of isolation for the person with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask when in contact with the person with COVID-19 throughout the person’s isolation period.
  • Wear a mask indoors in public until 14 days after the infected person’s isolation period ends or until you receive your final test result. 
  • Follow guidance if you develop symptoms or test positive.

Tested Positive within Past 3 Months

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new/worsening symptoms.

Not Fully Vaccinated

If you are not fully vaccinated, we recommend that you quarantine (stay home) for 14 days after the date of last close contact with the person infected with COVID-19 (CDCVirginia Department of Health).

  • Stay home and monitor your health for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Stay away from others even though you may not feel sick.
    • Stay 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) away from others.
    • Do not share personal items.
    • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Work with your doctor to see if you are eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies as post-exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment). 
    • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day, and watch for fever or cough.
    • If you get sick, follow the guidance for “If You Have Symptoms.”
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot at least daily. See the CDC’s guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, especially when around other people.
  • Make sure the room has good air flow, if you have to share space. Open the window to increase air circulation. Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
  • Get tested immediately. Even if your first test was negative, get tested again 5-7 days after you were in close contact to the sick person.
    • If you test positive, follow the guidance for “If You Test Positive.”
    • Get vaccinated. If you test positive, wait until you have recovered and meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation.

If your exposure to the sick person is on-going: 

  • Get tested immediately.
  • Begin quarantine immediately and continue to quarantine throughout the isolation period of the person with COVID-19.
  • Continue to quarantine for an additional 14 days starting the day after the end of isolation for the person with COVID-19.
  • Get tested again 5-7 days after the end of isolation of the infected household member.
  • Wear a mask when in contact with the person with COVID-19 throughout the person’s isolation period.
  • Wear a mask when in contact with other people in the home until quarantine ends.  
  • Work with your doctor to see if you are eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies as post-exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment).
  • Follow guidance if you develop symptoms or test positive.

Answer the Call: COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact TracingIf you are exposed to COVID-19 or test positive, Arlington County Public Health will call you to ask about your symptoms, people you were with, and your activities.

Set Up Your Buddy System

If you become ill or need to isolate or self-quarantine, you may need help from other people. And other people may ask you for help.

Having a buddy system will make it easier to get things like food and medicine if you are unable to leave your home. We recommend that every household has two “buddy system” households to call upon for help if needed.

Plan ahead and reach out now – safely – to put your “buddy system” in place.

Buddies can be:

  • Friends and neighbors
  • People you know through work and social networks
  • Members of faith groups
  • Members of neighborhood associations (many have Facebook or NextDoor groups or other ways to be in contact)