Isolation & Quarantine

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Helping prevent spread of infection when you have or might have COVID-19 

If you have COVID-19: If you have COVID-19, you must isolate yourself away from others even if you have been vaccinated, have been infected before, or do not have symptoms. This includes people who have tested positive for COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are likely to have COVID-19 (based on symptoms and lack of access to testing). This includes positive results from at-home tests or tests from a lab. See the instructions below for detailed steps on what to do. See the updated County of San Luis Obispo Health Officer Order of November 28, 2022: Order to Isolate

Isolation Instructions: If You Have COVID-19

 

If you have been exposed to COVID-19: Most people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 do not need to stay home if they don’t have any symptoms, but still need to take precautions to protect others. See the instructions below to find out what you need to do.   

Instructions: If You've Been Exposed to COVID-19

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COVID-19 Treatments

Effective treatment for COVID-19 is widely available and it's a good idea to talk with your doctor about treatment options. Treatment is most effective when started within the first few days of illness, before symptoms become severe. 

Free telehealth service

If you've tested positive for COVID-19 and can't reach your regular health care provider within 24 hours, you can talk to a telehealth provider for free: visit https://sesamecare.com/covidca or call 833-686-5051. If appropriate, this provider can prescribe COVID-19 treatment to pick up at a pharmacy. This program (including appointment and medication) is free of charge and does not require health insurance. Interpretation in Spanish and Mixteco is available upon request. Learn more at https://sesamecare.com/covidca or from videos in Spanish and Mixteco.  

Learn about COVID-19 Treatments

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Isolation Instructions

If you have COVID-19, you must isolate yourself away from others even if you have been vaccinated, have been infected before, or do not have symptoms.

  • Stay at home. Do not go to school, work, church, stores, or social get-togethers. Do not leave isolation except to get necessary medical care, and do not have any visitors. Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms. (See CDC instructions regarding travel.)
  • Wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask around others, both indoors and outdoors, for a total of 10 days. 
  • Ask about treatmentTreatment for COVID-19 is widely available at no cost and is most effective when started in the first few days of illness, so it is important to notify your doctor as soon as possible after a positive test. If you are unable to reach your regular doctor within 24 hours, you may talk with a telehealth provider for free: visit https://sesamecare.com/covidca or call 833-686-5051. If appropriate, this provider can prescribe COVID-19 treatment to pick up at a pharmacy. This program (including appointment and medication) is free of charge and does not require health insurance.
  • If you live with others, separate yourself as much as possible. Stay in a separate “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom, if possible. Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets. Don’t share household items like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Monitor your health. For many people, COVID-19 illness does not require emergency medical attention, but if you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing, chest pressure or severe confusion), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Optional: request a release-from-isolation attestation. Does your employer or school require documentation or a letter showing that you have completed your isolation period? Use this form to request documentation of your release from isolation.  

 

How long do I need to isolate?

Everyone who has COVID-19 (tested positive, has been diagnosed, or is likely to have COVID-19 based on symptoms and lack of access to testing) must isolate for 5-10 days and wear a well-fitted mask when around others for all 10 days. 

To calculate your isolation period, Day 0 is your first day of symptoms or the day of your positive test (if you are asymptomatic). Day 1 is the first full day after symptoms develop, or the first full day after your positive test if you do not experience symptoms.

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your isolation period starts over. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed.

Isolation Calculator (If you have COVID-19| En Español)

Isolation can end after 5 full days if you've had:

  • No fever for the last 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine (like Tylenol or Ibuprofen); AND
  • No symptoms are present, or symptoms are improving; AND
  • COVID-19 test taken on Day 5 (or later) of isolation is negative. An antigen test is preferred for the Day 5 follow-up test.

If you are unable to test or choose not to test on Day 5 or later, isolation can end after 10 full days if you've had:

  • No fever for the last 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine; AND
  • No symptoms are present, or symptoms are improving.

If you have a fever, continue to isolate until your fever resolves. If you have symptoms other than fever, continue to isolate until symptoms are resolving or until after Day 10.

A small number of people who recover from COVID-19 may experience “COVID-19 rebound” in which symptoms return and you test positive again, after testing negative. If you experience this rebound, you should re-start your isolation period and contact your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns. If you do not have a regular health care provider, you may contact the Public Health Department at 805-781-5500 and ask to speak with the nurse.  

 

In what settings does this guidance apply?

This guidance is intended for members of the general public. This guidance may not apply in certain settings including health care environments and long-term care facilities. These settings have their own specific guidance for isolation and quarantine.

Additionally, an employer or institution may have more restrictive policies in place than those described here. It is best to check with your organization for their rules.

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If You've Been Exposed

If you have been in the same room or vehicle as someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period, you should take precautions to protect others. Everyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should: 

  • Watch for symptoms. If you develop any symptoms, test and stay home. A PCR test is preferred. If you use a home antigen test and the result is negative, you should test again after 48 hours. 

  • Get tested. This could be a PCR test or a home test. If you do not have symptoms: 

    • PCR test: Test on Day 5 after last exposure to the person with COVID-19. (See no-cost testing sites in SLO County.)

    • Home antigen test: Test on Days 3, 5, and 7 after last exposure to the person with COVID-19.

  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for a total of 10 days following your last exposure. This means avoiding situations where you would need to remove your mask around others, such as eating at a restaurant. It is especially critical in indoor settings and when near those at higher risk for severe COVID-19.

  • If you test positive, isolate.

In addition to the steps above, you may choose to stay home or in a separate room away from others for at least 5 whole days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19 if you: 

  • Experienced a high-risk exposure. Examples include exposure from someone in your household or from an intimate partner, or from unmasked activities with increased exertion, voice projection, or face-to-face contact such as indoor group singing or contact sports.
  • Are more likely to become infected because you are immunocompromised or not vaccinated.

In addition, you may choose to temporarily avoid contact with people at higher risk of severe illness, to protect them from possible exposure. 

Specialized guidance applies to work and school settings: 

See the links below and check to see if your work or school has additional requirements: 

Additionally, a specific employer or institution may have more restrictive policies in place than those described here so it is best to check with your specific organization for their isolation and quarantine rules.

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Test After Travel 

Everyone should get tested 1-3 days before travel and 3-5 days after travel, regardless of vaccination status.

See CDC recommendations regarding quarantine after travel.  

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Information in Mixteco

Mensaje en Mixteco de Santa Cruz Yucucani, Guerrero, México​

 

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