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How Long Should Contacts of a Confirmed COVID-19 Case Self-quarantine?

A text message pops up on your screen: 

“Hi there, I tested positive for Covid yesterday. Wanted to let you know since we spent time together the day before.”

Now what? Do you need to quarantine? For how long? Do you need to rush over to the nearest COVID-19 testing center? Take a deep breath and keep reading for the answers to these questions. 

Should I Self Quarantine After Being Exposed to COVID19?

It depends on if you fit the definition of a close contact. CDC close contact guidelines say that in order to be considered a close contact, you were: 

  1. Less than 6 feet away from someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and
  2. Within that distance for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period

In general, if you do fit the criteria of being a close contact, it is a good idea to self-quarantine. Guidance has changed through the COVID-19 pandemic as people get vaccinated, new information is learned, and variants come and go. You may find conflicting information about whether or not you should. Self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 can help slow the spread of the virus and you may choose to follow a strict protocol out of an abundance of caution. 

Measures like staying at home, avoiding contact with immunocompromised individuals, limiting visitors, and using standard hygiene measures like cleaning high touch surfaces and washing your hands frequently are all common sense practices you can choose to take. If you have to be in public, you can wear a mask and physically distance yourself from others. 

How Long Should Contacts of a Confirmed COVID19 Case Self Quarantine?

As of February 2022, the CDC has two different recommendations for close contacts. Be sure to check the CDC website for up-to-date guidance and any recent changes. 

According to the CDC, you do not need to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 if:

  1. You are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. 
  2. You had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days. 

You should still take basic precautions like wearing a well-fitting mask in public and watching for symptoms for 10 days from the date of your last contact with the confirmed case. It’s important to get tested at least five  days after your contact, and immediately isolate yourself if you test positive. Please note that if you had COVID-19 recently, you don’t need to get tested after 5 days since your test may come back positive from your previous infection.

The CDC recommends that you quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 if you are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on your vaccinations. 

How Long Should You Quarantine After Being Exposed to COVID19 if You Are Not up to Date With Your Vaccination?

So, how long do I need to self isolate? If you are a contact of a person who tested positive for covid19 and you fit the criteria of someone who should quarantine, the current recommendation is to quarantine for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after your last contact with the positive case. The date of your exposure is day 0. If you do not develop symptoms during that time period, get tested on day 5. If you test negative, then you can end your self-quarantine. It’s important to wear a mask and monitor for symptoms to develop for a full 10 days after your last exposure to the person with COVID-19. If symptoms develop, get tested immediately and isolate until you receive your test result. 

If you test positive during your self-quarantine WITH symptoms: 

Isolate for at least 5 days from the day your symptoms started (the day they began is day 0). Follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines

If you test positive during your self-quarantine WITHOUT symptoms:

Isolate for at least 5 days from the date of the positive test. Follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines.

Check the CDC website for up-to-date guidance.

Will I Have To Do Contact Tracing for COVID19 if I’ve Been Exposed to a Positive Case?

In short, no, you do not have to comply with contact tracing if you receive a phone call or text message asking you to participate. Covid contact tracing guidelines may vary from state to state, but these conversations are voluntary. However, if you choose to comply, contact tracing helps protect you, your family, and your community by connecting people to resources and advice and helping them figure out if they need to quarantine or isolate. These conversations are protected by HIPAA and are kept private. If you’re curious about what contact tracing entails, check out this short video by the CDC

Accurate and Quick COVID-19 Testing With BioCollections

At this point in our “new normal,” COVID-19 testing is just a fact of life. At BioCollections, we know that you need test results that are quick and accurate to keep everyone safe. We provide PCR tests that indicate the strain of COVID-19 as well as include a comprehensive flu panel. You’ll be fully informed about your health with the comprehensive testing done by BioCollections. Visit our website to learn more about our testing solutions, or contact us with questions.

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