What to Do If You Are Sick
If you test positive and are an older adult or someone who is at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, treatment may be available. Contact a healthcare provider right away after a positive test to determine if you are eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. You can also visit a Test to Treat locationexternal icon and, if eligible, receive a prescription from a provider. Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas and do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis if possible.
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested. While waiting for test results pdf icon[233 KB, 2 Pages], stay away from others, including staying apart from those living in your household.
- Get tested as soon as possible after your symptoms start. Treatments may be available for people with COVID-19 who are at risk for becoming very sick. Don’t delay: Treatment must be started early to be effective—some treatments must begin within 5 days of your first symptoms. Contact your healthcare provider right away if your test result is positive to determine if you are eligible.
- Self-tests are one of several options for testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 and may be more convenient than laboratory-based tests and point-of-care tests. Ask your healthcare provider or your local health department if you need help interpreting your test results.
- You can visit your state, tribal, localexternal icon, and territorial health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing sites.
As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a well-fitting mask.
Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, or other symptoms.
- Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
- Call ahead. Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
- If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
- You should wear a mask if you must be around other people or animals, including pets (even at home).
- Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.
- You don’t need to wear the mask if you are alone. If you can’t put on a mask (because of trouble breathing, for example), cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This will help protect the people around you.
- Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2 years, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is not able to remove the mask without help.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw away used tissues in a lined trash can.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
- Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Handwashing Tips
- Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
- Wash these items thoroughly after using them with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (for example, doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops) in your “sick room” and bathroom. In shared spaces, you should clean and disinfect surfaces and items after each use by the person who is ill.
- If you are sick and cannot clean, a caregiver or other person should only clean and disinfect the area around you (such as your bedroom and bathroom) on an as needed basis. Your caregiver/other person should wait as long as possible (at least several hours) and wear a mask before entering, cleaning, and disinfecting shared spaces that you use.
- Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- Use household cleaners and disinfectants. Clean visible dirty surfaces with household cleaners containing soap or detergent. Then, use a household disinfectant.
- Use a product from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19)external icon
- Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet with a disinfectant for a certain period of time (look at “contact time” on the product label).
- You may also need to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, depending on the directions on the product label.
- Immediately after disinfecting, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- For completed guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home, visit Complete Disinfection Guidance.
- Improve ventilation (air flow) at home to help prevent from spreading COVID-19 to other people in your household.
- Clear out COVID-19 virus particles in the air by opening windows, using air filters, and turning on fans in your home.
- Use this interactive tool to learn how to improve air flow in your home.
For any additional questions about your care, contact your healthcare provider or state or local health department.