Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings (Interim Guidance)

CDC guidance for COVID-19 may be adapted by state and local health departments to respond to rapidly changing local circumstances.

Summary Page

Who this is for:

Healthcare providers and public health officials managing persons with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) under isolation who are not in healthcare settings. This includes, but is not limited to, at home, in a hotel or dormitory room, or in group isolation facility.

For Hospitalized Patients, see (Interim Guidance for Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions Among Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19).

Summary of Recent Changes

Updates as of April 4, 2020

  • Revised title to inclusive of all persons who are not in health care settings (LTCF, hospitals, etc)
  • Additional information for asymptomatic persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 on limiting contact and wearing a face covering after isolation to prevent spread

Limited information is available to characterize the spectrum of clinical illness, transmission efficiency, and the duration of viral shedding for persons with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This guidance is based on available information about COVID-19 and subject to change as additional information becomes available.

For Persons with COVID-19 Under Isolation:

The decision to discontinue isolation should be made in the context of local circumstances. Options now include both 1) a time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery (non-test-based) strategy, and 2) test-based strategy.

Time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery strategy (non-test-based strategy)*

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Test-based strategy (simplified from initial protocol) Previous recommendations for a test-based strategy remain applicable; however, a test-based strategy is contingent on the availability of ample testing supplies and laboratory capacity as well as convenient access to testing. For jurisdictions that choose to use a test-based strategy, the recommended protocol has been simplified so that only one swab is needed at every sampling.

Persons who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic. For 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay 6 feet away from others) and limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other people are present. In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.


*This recommendation will prevent most but may not prevent all instances of secondary spread.  The risk of transmission after recovery, is likely substantially less than that during illness.

**All test results should be final before isolation is ended. Testing guidance is based upon limited information and is subject to change as more information becomes available.


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