Protect Yourself

Updated 8/25/2022

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 385-273-7878 (Monday – Friday, 7am-7pm, Saturday, 7am-3pm, Closed Sunday) or use the webchat feature on our website.

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with your immunizations and health checkups.

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Get tested and stay home (away from others if possible) if you have symptoms of COVID-19. It’s best to assume you have COVID-19 and follow isolation guidelines. You can use an at-home test or find a testing location.

Some people should get tested and call a doctor about treatments right away if they develop symptoms of COVID-19:

  • People who would benefit from COVID-19 treatments and need a positive test to qualify.
  • Older individuals and people with high-risk conditions.
  • Vulnerable populations and those who work with them, including healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, and congregate settings like prisons and homeless shelters.

We encourage you to take advantage of the increased availability of home (antigen) tests. Use a home test if you’ve been sick but are getting better and want to know for sure if you are negative. You can test positive by PCR for weeks even when you are no longer infectious.

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If you were exposed to COVID-19, wait 5 full days after your exposure to get tested. This lets enough of the virus build up in your body to be detected by the tests. The vaccines do not interfere with the accuracy of COVID-19 tests. You may need to get tested more than one time, depending on what type of test you had, when you were tested, and if you had symptoms at the time of your test. 

We know people can be re-infected with COVID-19. We also know some people can test positive after they have COVID-19 even though they are no longer infectious to other people. The CDC and Utah Department of Health recommends you not get tested again for COVID-19 if it’s been less than 90 days (about 3 months) since you first tested positive, as long as you don’t have any new symptoms. However, if you have any new symptoms or it’s been more than 90 days (about 3 months) since you tested positive, you should use an antigen test and test again. 

We also know people who are vaccinated can get COVID-19 , so to be very safe we suggest you get a COVID-19 test 5 days after you were exposed, even if you are vaccinated.


What kind of test should I get?

Some COVID-19 tests are more accurate than others. Antigen tests (also called rapid tests as well as at-home tests) work best when someone has symptoms of COVID-19. Rapid antigen tests detect only high levels of virus and are less sensitive than PCR tests. Antigen tests are the best tests to use if you want to know for sure when you can end your isolation at home after testing positive. A PCR test looks for the genetic material of the virus. It is a very accurate test and almost always detects if a person is infected with the virus. Learn more here.

Learn more about at-home tests

Do I need a confirmatory PCR test?

Rapid antigen tests detect only high levels of virus and are less sensitive than PCR tests. They work best when you are sick. Get a PCR test if your antigen test (rapid/at-home) result is negative and you have symptoms. You may have a false negative test result. If you can’t get a PCR test or you choose to use a rapid antigen or at-home test again, wait 48 hours before testing again.

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.



Exposure Notifications

You may get a notification on your phone if you were exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The state of Utah has partnered with Apple and Google to enable exposure notifications on your smart devices. You must give permission to Apple or Google to get these notifications. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can choose to let Apple or Google send a notification to anyone who was in close contact with you. These people will receive a notification on their phone if they have enabled this service. Learn more here

You may also get a text message from Utah Public Health contact tracers asking you to take a survey if you test positive for COVID-19. This is different from the Exposure Notifications from Apple or Google. The survey helps the health department learn where you may have gotten COVID and who else may be at risk for it. You can also share the contact information of anyone who may have been exposed to you. These people will then get a text message from the health department letting them know when they were exposed and what they should do. Learn more here


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 can look like other illnesses such as allergies, flu, or colds. You can develop symptoms anytime between 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Most people will have mild to moderate symptoms. However, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild. We know there is a chance people can get re-infected and that people who are vaccinated can get COVID-19. It’s important to get tested quickly after your symptoms begin if you are at higher risk of severe illness so you can get treatments for COVID-19

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Some people may be asymptomatic. This means they have no signs or symptoms of the virus but can still spread it to others. Testing may be recommended at work for people without symptoms in certain situations, such as if there is a high rate of spread in a workplace.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Isolation is for people who have tested positive or have symptoms of COVID-19.


Stay home (isolate) if you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19

Isolation 

A 10-day isolation is still the very safest length of time to stay home after you test positive. However, new data from the CDC shows that a shorter isolation and quarantine may now be used. Learn why here

Stay home if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, even if you are vaccinated or had COVID before. The vaccines do not interfere with the accuracy of COVID-19 tests.

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If you have symptoms, stay home until:

  • You have been fever-free for 24 hours without using medicine to lower your fever,
  • Your symptoms have improved for 24 hours,
  • It has been at least 5 days from the day your symptoms first started. You are most likely infectious in the first 5 days which is why it is so important to stay home and isolate. The day your symptoms first started is called day 0. Stay home until it has been 5 full days after you test positive (days 1-5). 

You may need to stay at home longer than 5 days if your symptoms have not gotten better. Some symptoms, like losing your sense of taste or smell, can last for weeks or months even though you are no longer infectious and don’t need to stay home anymore. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about how long you should stay at home after testing positive. Learn more here.

Wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for 5 more days after you end your isolation at home.

If you never had symptoms, stay home until:

  • It has been at least 5 days since the day you were tested. The day you test positive is called day 0. Stay home until it has been 5 full days after you test positive (days 1-5). You must stay home for at least 5 days.

If you get sick or develop symptoms, your 5-day isolation at home starts over. Learn more here

Wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for 5 more days after you end your isolation at home.

Wearing a mask around others is important after you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t feel sick. Wear a mask around others, including people you live with, and in public for 5 more days after you end your isolation at home. If you can’t stay at home for at least 5 days, wear a well-fitting mask around others for the 10 days after you test positive. A high-quality mask like a KN95 or double masking (this means wearing two masks at the same time) may provide more protection for other people who will be exposed to you.

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You don’t need to get tested again to end your isolation. If you want to get tested before returning to normal activities (like work or school), we recommend you use a rapid antigen test (or use an at-home test) instead of a PCR test. Some people can test positive with a PCR test even after they are no longer able to spread the virus to other people. 

If you still test positive at this time, it’s best to stay at home for another 5 days (a total of 10 days after you tested positive the first time). If you choose to test again, wait 48 hours and use an antigen test. You may need to stay home longer than 5 days depending on your test results and symptoms. 

If your test result is negative, you can end isolation but you still need to wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for 5 more days. Remember, you need to stay home at least 5 days if you test positive for COVID-19 and until you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your other symptoms have improved. The loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

If you had moderate (you had shortness of breath or a hard time breathing) or severe (you were hospitalized) illness or have a weakened immune system you need to isolate for at least 10 days instead of 5. Talk to your healthcare provider before you end your isolation at home or if you have questions about your symptoms. Some people may need to isolate longer than 10 days depending on their medical history and symptoms. 

A public health worker will try to contact you if you test positive to conduct a case investigation. They will ask you about where you may have gotten COVID and who else may have been exposed. Sometimes people call this contact tracing. A public health worker may call you or send you a text or email. 

Some people may also be asked by public health to isolate longer than 5 days because the place where they live or work puts them and others at high risk of COVID. People who live or work in a congregate setting like a correctional facility (prison), long-term care facility, or homeless shelter should follow these guidelines from the CDC. Healthcare workers should follow these guidelines from the CDC. People who are immunocompromised or who have severe illness with COVID (this means they were hospitalized, in the ICU, or on a ventilator) may also need to isolate longer. Talk to your healthcare provider about what guidelines to follow if you are immunocompromised or had severe illness. 


What should I do after testing positive? 

Call a doctor to see if you qualify for medicines to treat COVID-19, such as antiviral pills.

Stay at home except to get medical care. You should not travel or go to work, school, extracurricular activities, religious services, family gatherings, or other activities for at least 5 days and until you start to feel better.

  • Try to stay in a different room in your home from other people. It’s important to stay away from people who are at high risk of severe illness while you are infectious. Try to use a different bathroom than other people you live with. If you can’t stay in a different room or use a different bathroom, 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). 
  • Open the windows as much as possible to help with air flow and ventilation. 
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Call a doctor or seek medical care right away if your symptoms get worse or you feel like you need medical care. It is safe to go to the hospital or doctor’s office. Wear a mask and let the healthcare workers know you have tested positive for COVID-19. If you have any of these emergency warning signs, get medical help right away: 

  • Pain or pressure in your chest that does not go away 
  • Feeling confused or cannot wake up easily 
  • If your lips or face look bluish 
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath 

Who needs to quarantine after being around me? 

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 take precautions.

It can be very hard to stay home and miss work or school after being exposed to someone who has COVID-19. It can also be very hard to isolate from people who have COVID-19 and live in your home. That’s why the CDC updated their quarantine recommendations and no longer recommends the people who are exposed to you stay home after their exposure. However, anyone who was exposed or lives with you still needs to take precautions:

  • Wear a mask for 10 days when around other people or in public.
  • Get tested 5 days after they were exposed to you.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 to develop. If they get sick, they need to stay home, follow isolation guidelines, and get tested even if they tested negative before. 

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You may qualify for treatment if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness. Talk to your doctor to find out if you may qualify.

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Quarantine if you are exposed to COVID-19



Quarantine

Take precautions if you are exposed to COVID-19. This means you were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 while that person was infectious. You may also consider staying home for a period of time. This is called quarantine. Quarantine keeps you away from others so you don’t infect someone else without knowing it.

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.

If you are exposed to COVID-19


You need to wear a mask around others and in public if you are exposed to COVID-19. You may consider staying home for a period of time. 

A public health worker may try to contact you if you were exposed to COVID-19. This is called contact tracing. They may call you or send you a text or email. You may also get a notification from Google or Apple. 


If your child is exposed to COVID-19

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If your child is exposed to COVID-19


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Do I need to stay home after being exposed to COVID-19?

No. It can be very hard to stay home and miss work or school after being exposed to someone who has COVID-19. It can also be very hard to stay isolated from people who have COVID-19 and live in your home. That’s why the CDC updated their quarantine recommendations and no longer recommends people stay home after they are exposed to COVID-19. However, you still need to take precautions to protect other people: 

  • Wear a mask for 10 days after your exposure when around other people or in public. Avoid going to places where it is hard to wear a mask during these 10 days, such as a gym or restaurant.
  • Get tested 5 full days after you were exposed to COVID-19.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If you get sick, stay home, follow isolation guidelines, and get tested.
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Image courtesy of Salt Lake County Health Department

You can continue to go to work and participate in activities outside of your house. However, you should wear a well-fitting mask around others and in public for 10 days after your exposure (called the date of exposure). Wearing a mask around others is important, even if you don’t quarantine at home. This helps keep others safe. A high-quality mask like a KN95 or double masking (this means wearing two masks at the same time) may provide more protection for other people who will be exposed to you.

We recommend you get tested 5 days after your last close contact with the person who has COVID-19 to make sure you are not possibly spreading the virus to others. If you test positive or develop symptoms, isolate at home right away. If it’s been less than 90 days (about 3 months) since you first tested positive for COVID-19 and you don’t have any new symptoms, you don’t need to get tested again during this 90-day timeframe. However, if you have new or worsening symptoms or it’s been more than 90 days since you tested positive, you should get tested again. 

Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested right away if you get sick.

Some people may need to quarantine or isolate at home for longer than 5 days because the place where they live or work puts them and others at high risk of COVID. People who live or work in a congregate setting like a correctional facility (prison), long-term care facility, or homeless shelter should follow these guidelines from the CDC. Healthcare workers should follow these guidelines from the CDC.

Confused about the new quarantine and isolation guidelines? Learn how long you need to stay home after testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19.

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Take precautions after being exposed to COVID-19

  • Wear a mask around others and in public until it has been 10 days since you were exposed to COVID-19. Avoid going to places where it is hard to wear a mask during these 10 days, such as a gym or restaurant. 
  • Check for symptoms of COVID-19 every day for 10 days after your exposure, including taking your temperature if possible. Get tested right away if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested at least 5 full days after you last had close contact with the person who has COVID-19. If you test negative, you still need to wear a mask around others for a total 10 days after your exposure. If you test positive, stay at home and follow isolation guidelines.  
  • Stay away from people who are immunocompromised or at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. You should not visit a long-term care facility, nursing home, or other high risk setting until it has been at least 10 days since you were exposed to COVID-19.
  • Don’t travel if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Wear a mask around others if you travel.

How do I know when I can end quarantine?

You should quarantine 5 full days from your date of exposure. The date of exposure is the last day you were exposed to the person who was infectious with COVID-19. We call this day 0 of your quarantine. This means you begin quarantine on day 0 (called the date of exposure or the last time you were in close contact with the person who has COVID-19) and end 5 full days later (days 1-5).  

Remember, if you live with someone who has COVID-19 and need to quarantine at home,  your 5-day quarantine starts AFTER the person who is positive is done with isolation. This means you may be in quarantine longer than 5 days if you can’t stay isolated from each other.


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Immunizations help keep you, your family, and your community healthy and safe. 

COVID-19 vaccines are available for people ages 6 months and older. All COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized by the FDA and CDC are safe and effective. They help keep you from getting severely ill, needing to be hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19. You should get a COVID-19 booster dose if you are eligible for one. Booster doses give you even greater protection from the Omicron variant. Breakthrough infections can happen, but people who are vaccinated are less likely than unvaccinated people to get COVID-19, or to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

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You can get vaccinated as soon as you are no longer in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 and you don’t have any symptoms. You can also get other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

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How do COVID-19 vaccinations affect quarantine and isolation guidelines?

You are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Two-dose vaccines: 2 weeks after 2nd shot (Pfizer BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna).
  • One-dose vaccines: 2 weeks after shot (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen).

This means you don’t have to quarantine if it has been 2 weeks since your final shot, even if you are exposed to someone who tests positive. Fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine and can continue to go to work, school, and participate in events. 


What to do if you are exposed to COVID-19:


If you have never had a COVID-19 vaccine:


Quarantine at home and get tested for COVID-19.

If you are partially vaccinated. This means it it has been less than 2 weeks since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine:


Quarantine at home and get tested for COVID-19.

If you are fully vaccinated. This means it has been at least 2 weeks since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine:


Get tested for COVID-19. You don’t have to quarantine at home but you should wear a mask around other people for 10 days after your exposure. Isolate at home and get tested again if you get symptoms of COVID-19 within the 2 weeks after your exposure.

If it’s been less than 180 days since you tested positive for COVID-19:


You don’t have to quarantine at home but you should wear a mask around other people for 10 days after your exposure. Isolate at home if you get symptoms of COVID-19 within the 2 weeks after your exposure. The CDC and Utah Department of Health recommends you not get tested again if it’s been less than 90 days (about 3 months) since you first tested positive for COVID-19. However, if it’s been between 90-180 days (3-6 months) since you tested positive, you should get tested again.

If it’s been more than 180 days since you tested positive for COVID-19:


Quarantine at home and get tested for COVID-19.

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

Viruses, like the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, are inside the aerosols and droplets we breathe and exhale. It’s those respiratory droplets that masks help to block and why face masks are so effective in helping to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

The CDC has recommendations on when to wear masks in public based on your county’s COVID-19 levels. When a county is in “high” everyone is recommended to wear masks in public places. You can search your county’s levels at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

The CDC Community Levels do not apply to healthcare settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes. Instead, healthcare settings should use the CDC Transmission Levels and guidelines.

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Hygiene practices

Good hygiene practices are some of the best ways to fight any illness. This includes COVID-19.

  • 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.
  • Use products in EPA List N to clean and disinfect surfaces every day that are touched often.

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.

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