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COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine

CDC guidance has been updated as of August, 2022. 

Following isolation and post-exposure guidance, including wearing a well-fitting, high quality mask when recommended, is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting others.

Isolate if you test positive for or have symptoms of COVID-19

  • Isolate away from others in your household, including pets.
  • Test if you have not already. If you test positive, follow all isolation guidance.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Improve ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask if you must be around other people.
  • Reach out to people you were close to in the 2 days before you had symptoms or tested positive.
  • Treat symptoms like any other respiratory virus such as the flu.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about COVID-19 treatments, especially if you are high-risk or have other health conditions.
  • Seek help for emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing, persistent chest pain, and other serious medical issues. 
  • Learn more about what to do if you have COVID-19.

To end isolation:

If you had no symptoms, end isolation after day 5.  Day 0 is the day you were tested; Day 1 is the first full day after your test was done.

If you had symptoms,

  • You may end isolation after day 5 if:
    • You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication)
    • Your symptoms are improving (except for loss of taste and smell, which may last for weeks or months)

If you still have fever or your other symptoms have not improved, continue to isolate until they improve.

    • If you had moderate illness (if you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing), or severe illness (you were hospitalized) due to COVID-19-, or you have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10.
    • If you had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, consult your doctor before ending isolation. Ending isolation without a viral test may not be an option for you.
    • If you are unsure if your symptoms are moderate or severe or if you have a weakened immune system, talk to a healthcare provider for further guidance.
  • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public for 5 more days. If you are unable to wear a mask when around others, isolate for a full 10 days. This is critical for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting others.
  • Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings, until day 11.
  • If you have access to at-home tests, you should consider using them. With two negative tests 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.

Note: If your antigen test results are positive, you may still be infectious. Continue wearing a mask and wait at least 48 hours before taking another test. Continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you have two negative results in a row. This may mean you need to continue wearing a mask and testing beyond day 10.

After you have ended isolation, if your COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart your isolation at day 0. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about your symptoms or when to end isolation.

Take steps if you were exposed to COVID-19

Wear a mask as soon as you find out you were exposed.

Start counting from Day 1

  • Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure

Take precautions

  • Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public. 
  • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, including travel and public transportation settings.
Watch for symptoms

If you develop symptoms

If your test result is positive, follow the isolation recommendations.

Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure, even if you do not develop symptoms.

For additional details, visit the CDC’s What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19

Maryland Department of Health resources:

Community Medical Resources

Seguimiento Médico Recursos de Proveedores Comunitarios

What to Do if You are Sick – CDC guidance

How to Care for Someone Sick at Home with COVID-19 – CDC guidance

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home – CDC guidance

Stress and Coping – CDC guidance

COVID-19 Index page