Isolation & Quarantine
Helping prevent spread of infection when you have or might have COVID-19
If you have COVID-19: You must take precautions to protect others and may also be able to get treatment to help you feel better sooner. See the instructions below to find out what you need to do.
Isolation Instructions: If You Have COVID-19
If you have been exposed to COVID-19: You should be alert for symptoms and 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
Medicine to treat COVID-19 is available for most adults in California, often at low or no cost. This medicine includes pills you take at home for five days. Treatment can:
- Stop the illness from getting serious
- Help you test negative sooner
- Help reduce the risk of long COVID symptoms
It's important to start treatment early, within the first five days of symptoms.
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 Treatment
If you have COVID-19, you must isolate yourself away from others even if you have been vaccinated or have been infected before.
- Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Continue isolating until you have not had a fever for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication AND other symptoms are mild and improving. Do not go to school, work, church, stores, or social get-togethers. Do not travel on public transportation. Do not leave isolation except to get medical care, and do not have any visitors.
- Wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask around others, both indoors and outdoors, for a total of 10 days. This includes after you leave isolation.
- 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.
- Avoid contact with people at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 for 10 days*. This includes after you leave isolation.
- Seek treatment. Treatment for COVID-19 is widely available, often at low or no cost. It 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 you test positive. 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.
- Care for symptoms. Whether or not you take prescription medicine to treat COVID-19, you can address symptoms at home by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. You can take over-the-counter medications (like Tylenol or Ibuprofen) as directed on the bottle to provide relief from fever and pain. See guidance from the CDC for steps to take when you are sick with COVID-19.
- Monitor your health and seek emergency care if needed. 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.
How long do I need to isolate?
Isolation can end when 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 mild and improving.
If you have a fever, continue to isolate until 24 hours after your fever resolves. If you have symptoms other than fever, continue to isolate until symptoms are mild and improving.
After you leave isolation, you must continue to follow two protective measures for a total of 10 days:
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 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 with your questions.
In what settings does this guidance apply?
This guidance is intended for members of the general public. This guidance does not apply to healthcare personnel. It may not apply in health care, long-term care, corrections, homeless shelters, and other indoor high-risk settings. (These settings have their own specific guidance for isolation and quarantine. See local guidance for high-risk settings and CDC guidance for Congregate Living Settings.)
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. In larger spaces (such as a warehouse or open plan office of more than 400,000 cubic feet per floor), you should take precautions if you were within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Everyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should:
- Watch for symptoms.
- If you develop any symptoms, you should test and mask right away.
- If you do not have symptoms, and are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and would benefit from treatment, you should test within 5 days.
- If you do not have symptoms and have contact with people who are at higher risk for severe infection, you should mask indoors when around such people for 10 days. Consider testing within 5 days after your last exposure date and before contact with people who are at higher risk for severe illness.
- If you test positive, isolate and follow the instructions above.
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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