COVID-19 is a new disease. We learn more every day about the virus that causes COVID-19 and the best ways to stop the pandemic. We know this can make it hard to know what to do. If you can’t find what you are looking for, call our Coronavirus Hotline at 1-800-456-7707 or use the webchat feature on our website.
Should I get tested for COVID-19?
Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested.
If you came into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 while they were infectious, you should quarantine and get tested. Wait 7 days after the last time you were around the person to get tested. This lets enough of the virus build up in your body to be detected by the tests. Getting tested too soon can result in an inaccurate test result. Testing locations can be found at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-covid-19-testing-locations.
After you get tested for COVID-19, go home right away. Don’t stop at the store, your workplace, or other people’s homes. Stay at home until you get your test result.
You can learn more about how much COVID-19 testing costs, the types of COVID-19 tests, and how to get your test results at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/testing-locations.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, but aren’t sick yet. Isolation is for people who have tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19.
You should isolate if you test positive for COVID-19
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, you should isolate. This means you stay at home except to get medical care. You should isolate until you have been:
- Fever-free for 24 hours (this means you did not use medicine to lower your fever), and
- Your respiratory symptoms have improved for 24 hours, and
- It has been at least 10 days since you first got sick.
- If you did not have symptoms, isolate for 10 days from the day you were tested.
If you test positive for COVID-19, try to stay in a different room in your home from other people. You should also try to use a different bathroom than other people. If you can’t stay in a different room or use a different bathroom, stay as far away from other people in your home as possible. Wear a mask if you need to be around other people. Don’t share personal items like cups, plates, or towels. Clean surfaces that are touched often (like phones, doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink handles, countertops, and anything metal).
You are infectious and can spread the virus to others starting up to 2 days before you first had symptoms until your isolation period is over. If you never had symptoms, you are infectious starting 2 days before the day you were tested for COVID-19. Anyone who came into close contact with you during this time should quarantine.
If you test positive for COVID-19, anyone who lives in your home should quarantine for 10 days from the last time they were in close contact with you during isolation.
A public health worker will also try to contact you if you test positive to conduct a case investigation. Sometimes people call this contact tracing. A public health worker may call you or send you a text or email.
You should quarantine if you are exposed to COVID-19
You should quarantine if you were exposed to COVID-19. This means you were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 while that person was infectious.
Close contact means:
- You were closer than 6 feet from someone who has the virus for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or longer in a 24 hour period.
- You cared for someone at home who is sick with COVID-19.
- You had direct physical contact with the person who has COVID-19 (hugged or kissed them).
- You shared eating or drinking utensils with the person who has COVID-19.
- The person who has COVID-19 sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
Quarantine keeps you away from others so you don’t infect someone else without knowing it. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure. This is why you should monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last date of exposure, because it CAN take 14 days for you to get sick. This means you can spread the virus for 14 days after you were exposed. That’s why a 14-day quarantine is still the best and most effective way to protect other people from being exposed to the virus. However, having to quarantine for 14 days every time you are exposed to the virus is a concern to many families. The pandemic has had an economic impact on families and employers.
As we learn more about COVID-19, public health can now provide alternatives for those who may not be able to quarantine for 14 days. While these alternatives are not the very best way to protect people from the virus, they balance reducing the burden on individuals and families against a small possibility of spreading the virus. You can learn more about why this change is being made at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html.
You may end quarantine:
- On day 10 without testing. If you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, you can end quarantine 10 days after the last time you had close contact with the person who tested positive.
- On day 7 with a negative test result. You can get tested on day 7. You can end quarantine if your test is negative and you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. You must wait at least 7 days after your exposure to be tested. The test can be a PCR or rapid antigen test. You must continue to quarantine until you get your test results back.
- These recommendations DO NOT apply to people who are living with someone who has COVID-19 or congregate care settings (like a long term care facility, correctional facility, or group home). If you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must quarantine for 10 days, even if you test negative. If you live or work in a congregate living setting and were exposed to COVID-19, you must quarantine for 10 days. Long-term care facilities will continue to follow a 14-day quarantine for employees and residents because the chance for spread and severe illness is very high.
If you end quarantine early using one of these alternatives:
- Watch for symptoms until it has been 14 days after your exposure. If you end quarantine sooner than 14 days, it is important you keep checking for symptoms. There is a small chance you can still get COVID-19.
- If you get symptoms, isolate right away. Call a healthcare provider and get tested for COVID-19, even if you tested negative for COVID-19 earlier in your quarantine period.
- Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from others, wash your hands often, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
During quarantine, you should stay home and away from other people as much as possible. You should not go to work, school, extracurricular activities, religious services, family gatherings, or other activities. If you must leave your home for essential items like groceries or to seek medical care, it is very important you take extra safety precautions so you don’t spread the virus to other people.
Wait 7 days after you were exposed to get tested for COVID-19. This lets enough of the virus build up in your body to be detected by the tests. If you get sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 while on quarantine, you should isolate and call a healthcare provider right away. You should be tested for COVID-19.
If you choose not to get tested or you are living with someone who has COVID-19, you can end quarantine 10 days after the last time you were around the person who has COVID-19
If you live with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you need to quarantine for at least 10 days.
You are at a much higher risk of getting infected with the virus. Do not end quarantine before 10 days, even if you test negative. It can be very hard to stay isolated from people who have COVID-19 and live in your home. This means you may need to quarantine longer than 10 days if you can’t stay away from the person who was sick. Every time you come into close contact with the person who tested positive while they are infectious, your 10-day quarantine starts over.
A public health worker may also try to contact you if you were exposed to COVID-19. This is called contact tracing. A public health worker may call you or send you a text or email.
Understanding the date of exposure
The date of exposure is when the person who tested positive for COVID-19 was first considered infectious and could spread the virus to others. This date begins 2 days before the person has symptoms. If the person did not have symptoms, he or she is infectious starting 2 days before the person was tested for COVID-19. Anyone who came into close contact with the person who tested positive from the date of exposure until the person has ended isolation and is no longer considered infectious, is exposed and should quarantine for 10 days from the day they were exposed.
How do I know when I can end quarantine?
You should quarantine 10 full days from your date of exposure. Or you can be tested on day 7 of quarantine and if you test negative and do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you can end quarantine.
Remember, if you live with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you must finish the 10-day quarantine, even if your test result is negative. Your 10-day quarantine starts AFTER the person who is positive is done with isolation. This means you may be in quarantine longer than 10 days.
How soon after I am exposed to COVID-19 will I develop symptoms?
Data shows that most people do not get symptoms of COVID-19 after 10 days if they haven’t gotten sick by then. This doesn’t mean they won’t get sick or can’t spread the virus after day 10, it just means most people don’t.
People with COVID-19 generally develop symptoms 5-6 days after they were exposed to the virus. About 75% of people will develop symptoms within 7 days after the exposure. About 95% of people will develop symptoms within 12 days after the exposure.*
Safety precautions for people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- Check for symptoms of COVID-19 every day, including taking your temperature if possible. If you do not have a thermometer, check your skin to see if it feels warm or looks red. A helpful booklet called, “What to do if you are on quarantine or isolation,” can help you know how to check your symptoms and what to do.
- Stay home and away from other people as much as possible. Do not go to school, work, extracurricular activities, religious services, family gatherings, or other activities until your quarantine is over.
- Wear a cloth face covering or mask if you need to leave your home for essential errands like getting groceries or to get medical care. Only leave your home if you have to.
- Limit the number of visitors to your home. This is especially important if you or someone you live with is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Clean surfaces that are touched often (phones, doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink handles, countertops, and anything metal).
- Wash hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
- Open the windows as much as you can to improve the ventilation and increase air exchanges in rooms.
- Do not share food or utensils with other people.
- Do not share personal items like a toothbrush with other people.
Do I have to quarantine again if I’ve already had COVID-19?
If you are exposed to COVID-19 again (a new exposure) within 90 days of testing positive for COVID-19 and do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you don’t need to quarantine. You also don’t need to be tested again for COVID-19.
You should follow these guidelines for 14 days from the date of your last exposure:
- Take your temperature before work.
- Check for symptoms of COVID-19 every day.
- Wear a face covering when you are around people you don’t live with.
- If you get sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate for at least 10 days after symptom onset and call a doctor or healthcare provider to determine if you should get tested for COVID-19 again.
If you are exposed to COVID-19 again (a new exposure) and it has been more than 90 days since you tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine. You should get tested for COVID-19 again. If you get sick or have symptoms while on quarantine, isolate and call a doctor or healthcare provider.
What should I do if I test negative for COVID-19?
A negative test does not mean you won’t ever get COVID-19. If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably did not have the virus at the time of your test. It is possible that you were very early in your infection or got tested too soon after your exposure for the test to detect the virus in your body. It can take up to 14 days to develop COVID-19 after you are exposed to the virus. You could also be exposed to the virus again and then test positive. This is why it is important to follow safety precautions like wearing a mask and physical distancing.
Some COVID-19 tests are more accurate than others. Rapid antigen tests work best when someone has symptoms of COVID-19. If you were tested with a rapid antigen test, you may need to get a PCR test to confirm the results.
Masks protect you and others from COVID-19.
The science is clear, wearing face masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks also protect and help strengthen our economy.
- You should wear a mask anytime you are near someone you don’t live with.
- It is important for everyone to wear a mask, even if you are able to physical distance. Face masks provide an extra layer to help stop respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.
- You should wear a cloth face covering if you are in close contact with someone who is at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Do not use cloth face coverings on children younger than age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
Hygiene practices you should follow
Good hygiene practices are some of the best ways to fight any illness. This includes COVID-19. During the pandemic you should:
- Wear a mask anytime you are near people you don’t live with.
- Stay home when you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Stay home if you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results.
- Stay home if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are still in isolation.
- Stay home if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are in quarantine.
- Physical distance as much as you can. This means to stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) away from other people.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water. If you do not have soap and water, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Do not use your hands.
- Do not shake hands or touch other people. Use other ways to greet people without touching.
- Try not to touch surfaces many people touch.
Wash your hands:
- After you cough or sneeze.
- After you use the restroom.
- Before you eat or make food.
- After you touch animals or pets.
- Before and after you care for another person who needs help, such as a child.
- Before and after your work shifts.
- Before and after you take breaks at work.
- After you put on, touch, or take off a cloth face covering.
- Children younger than 6 years old should not use hand sanitizer without adult supervision.
- Always store hand sanitizer out of reach of children and pets.
- Keep hand sanitizers away from fire or flame.
When do you need to practice physical distancing (also called social distancing)?
- COVID-19 is most easily spread by close contact between people.
- You should try to practice physical distancing as much as you can. This means you should stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) away from other people when you are in public or at work if possible.
Holiday safety tips
The pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. We want everyone to have a great holiday season. The safest holiday gathering is with those who live in your home. If you are planning winter holiday activities or a gathering, we have some tips and recommendations to keep you and your family safe and to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Keep individuals at higher risk safe.
If you live or work with someone who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 you need to take extra safety precautions. Make and send care packages to loved ones. Stay connected with daily calls, video chats, and emails. Help high-risk individuals by going to the grocery store for them or helping them get groceries delivered to their home. Do not bring children or anyone who is sick close to people that have underlying medical conditions, regardless of age.