If You Are Sick or Test Positive: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

If You Are Sick or Test Positive: COVID-19

On this page:
Definitions
Setting-specific recommendations
If you feel sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms
If you test positive or have symptoms
How long to stay home
Going to the doctor
Caring for someone who is sick
Getting COVID-19 again

It is important to separate yourself from others (isolate) if you feel sick or test positive, so you do not spread the virus to others. You may spread it to others even if you are vaccinated or do not have symptoms.

For more detailed guidance on isolation and quarantine, refer to CDC: COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation. Use the CDC Quarantine and Isolation Calculator to determine how long you may need to stay home and away from others.

Wearing a well-fitting mask can help limit the spread of COVID-19 by blocking droplets from getting into the air. Learn more at Masks: COVID-19.

Definitions

Quarantine: Staying home and away from others when you may have been exposed to the virus.

Isolation: Staying home and away from others when you test positive, feel sick, or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Well-fitting mask: A mask that fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin and does not have gaps around the edges. Visit Masks: COVID-19 for more information.

Immunocompromised: A person with a weakened immune system. The immune system is how the body fights disease.

Severe illness: A person with COVID-19 may need to go to the hospital and into intensive care, and may need a ventilator to help them breathe.

Setting-specific recommendations

These recommendations do not apply to certain high-risk settings. Refer to the following guidance on isolation or quarantine in health care settings or other high-risk group (congregate) settings:

If you feel sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms

Everyone, whether or not you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccination (refer to CDC: Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines), should:

  • Get tested right away. Visit COVID-19 Testing.
  • Stay home and away from others while you wait for your test result or if you have not been tested. Follow the how long to stay home section below.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask if you must be around others, even in your home. Follow Masks: COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water. Wash for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover Your Cough: cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Throw used tissues in the trash. Wash your hands.
  • If a lab test shows a negative result for the virus, but you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay home until your symptoms are better and you do not have a fever. COVID-19 symptoms can be a lot like symptoms of other illnesses.
  • Caregivers in settings other than health care may refer to CDC: Caring for Someone Sick at Home for more information on how to provide patient support.
For more information on when to get vaccinated, refer to the "If you have had recent close contact or mild illness" section on About COVID-19 Vaccine.

If you test positive or have symptoms

  • Stay home and away from others (isolate) for at least five days after your symptoms started. If you do not have symptoms, stay home for five days from the date you tested positive. Refer to the how long to stay home section below.
    • You can spread COVID-19 to others starting a couple days before you have any symptoms, and even if you never have any symptoms.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask when you need to be around other people, even at home.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to make the flow of air in your home better, if possible. Refer to Indoor Air Considerations.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.

If you are high risk and test positive, contact your health care provider right away to see if you should receive treatment. Treatment should be started within five to seven days from the start of symptoms, even if symptoms are mild.

People at higher risk include those who are older; have chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, or kidney disease; or who have a weakened immune system. Go to COVID-19 Medications for more information about risk factors and treatment options.

How long to stay home

To find out how long you need to stay home (isolate), read the category below that describes you:

Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around others, even at home. The 10 days start the day after you got symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, the 10 days start the day after you got tested.

If you have symptoms:

Stay home until all three of the following are true:

  1. It has been five days since you first felt sick. Day zero is the day your symptoms started. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started.
  2. You have had no fever (your temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
  3. You feel better. Your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are better.

You can resume most activities on day six. If you do not feel better at the end of five days, continue to stay home until all the above are true.

If you do not have symptoms:

  • Stay home and away from others for five days after your test date. Day zero is the day you got tested.
    • If you develop symptoms during this time, you must start over. Day zero is the day your symptoms start. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started. Refer to the above section above on what to do if you have symptoms.

After your period to stay home ends, continue to do the following for another five days:

  • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask, even at home.
  • Do not be around others who are at risk for getting very sick from the COVID-19 virus, including older adults, those living in long-term care facilities, and people with health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or weakened immune systems.
  • Do not go to places where you will need to take off your mask to take part in an activity (e.g., gyms, restaurants) and avoid eating near others at home and work.
  • Avoid travel. If you must travel after your period to stay home ends, wear a well-fitting mask.

Timeline for those needing to isolate: wear a mask for 10 full days, stay home for 5 days, return to most activites if you feel better on day six, and continue to wear a mask through day 10.

This includes people under age 2, people with certain disabilities, and others who cannot consistently wear a mask around others.

Timeline for those needing to isolate: stay home for 10 days and return to normal activites on day 11.

Stay home for at least 10 full days. The 10 days start the day after you got symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, the 10 days start the day after you got tested. Count the actual day you got symptoms or got tested as day zero.

This includes people who were hospitalized or required intensive care or ventilation support and people with compromised immune systems.

  • Stay home for at least 10 days, and up to 20 days. Day zero is the day your symptoms start. Day one is the first full day after your symptoms started. Consult with your health care provider.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others.
  • You may need a viral test to decide when you can be around others again. Viral tests are used to look for current infection. Refer to CDC: Test for Current Infection.

Going to the doctor

  • Call ahead before going in to see a health care provider.
  • Get medical care right away if your illness is getting worse (for example, if you have trouble breathing). Symptoms get worse for some people during the second week of illness. Call first if you can and tell them your symptoms.
  • Low oxygen levels can be an early warning sign that people need medical care. For more information, refer to Oxygen Levels, Pulse Oximeters, and COVID-19.

CDC's Coronavirus Self-Checker found at Symptoms of COVID-19 can help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. This tool is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19.

Caring for someone who is sick

  • If someone in your household gets sick, do your best to keep them away from others in the house. Have one person take care of the person who is sick. Stay 6 feet away from the person who is sick as much as you can, even if you are vaccinated. The caregiver(s) and the person who is sick should wear well-fitting masks when in the same room.
  • Caregivers and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should follow quarantine guidance. Learn about when and how to quarantine at Close Contacts and Quarantine.

Getting COVID-19 again

  • If you had COVID-19 in the past three months, you may still have some protection from the virus. However, after those first three months, your chance of getting COVID-19 again increases, especially with new variants circulating.
  • Variants may be different from your first infection and your natural immunity may not be able to protect you as well from the variants. The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. You do not have to wait three months after recovering from COVID-19 to get vaccinated.
  • Research shows that people who are fully vaccinated get better protection from COVID-19 compared to those who have natural immunity only from a previous infection of COVID-19. A CDC report shows that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again: Reduced Risk of Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 After COVID-19 Vaccination — Kentucky, May–June 2021.

For more information, visit: About COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated Wednesday, 11-May-2022 11:47:45 CDT