What do I do if I think I was exposed to coronavirus?

Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Here’s what to do if you think you may have been exposed to coronavirus.

Watch for symptoms

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms — ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

Use the CDC’s self-checker to help make decisions and seek appropriate medical care regarding COVID-19.

You may have COVID-19 if you have these symptoms or combinations of symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

This list is not all inclusive. Talk to your healthcare provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

 

Get tested

If you are concerned about your status, get tested for COVID-19 right away. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can get tested. 

Find testing sites for walk-up and drive-thru testing. Testing differs by location. More and more sites offer rapid tests and antibody testing. 

 

See more information about symptoms and testing for COVID-19 and what to do if you were exposed to coronavirus.

 

Take the community action survey.

Respiratory swabs (nose and throat) are collected by a health care provider and sent to a private laboratory or one of the state public health laboratories for COVID-19 testing.

To be tested for COVID-19 an order from a healthcare provider may be required. Your healthcare provider can either collect a sample for testing in their office or provide an order to obtain testing at an alternative testing site. Some testing sites require an order from a healthcare provider, and for an appointment to be scheduled in advance, though there are a number of sites that will test regardless of symptoms and without an appointment.

The locations of COVID-19 testing are decided and coordinated by local communities. State-supported testing sites can be found here.

The amount of time it takes to get your test results back varies. For information regarding your test, contact the testing facility that ordered or collected the test. The COVID-19 Call Center cannot provide results, or provide a status update. 

Contact tracing is a disease control measure. Public health professionals work with patients to develop a list of everyone they have been in close contact with during a certain period. The staff will then contact those people to let them know about their possible exposure so that they can take proper precautions.

Contact tracing is done by specially trained public health professionals. In general, these trained staff study patterns and causes of diseases in humans. Public health professionals tasked with contact tracing are experts in protecting client confidentiality, counseling, cultural competency, and more.

When a person tests positive for a disease or condition, a public health case investigator will work with the patient to create a list of people they’ve been in contact with during a given time frame. The contact tracing expert then contacts each of those people so that they can take appropriate precautions (getting tested, self-isolation, monitor for symptoms, etc.) and, in turn, create a list of people they’ve been in contact with as necessary. By using this strategy, public health professionals can get ahead of infectious diseases and prevent further spread.

Many communicable diseases, including COVID-19, can be spread by people who do not appear to be sick. Since these people feel well, they are unlikely to get tested and may not know they are carrying a virus. Contact tracing can help public health officials learn who these asymptomatic carriers are so they can be informed about appropriate prevention measures, to include testing and self-isolation. This helps keep disease at bay.

All public health professionals who conduct contact tracing are highly trained in confidentiality. When they talk to people who have been in contact with a patient, they do not share any information about that person under any circumstance.

For contact tracing to be most effective, it should be carried out as soon after diagnosis as possible. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will likely be contacted quickly by a public health professional to initiate contact tracing. It is important to remember, though, that not being contacted for contact tracing does not mean you did not test positive or that you cannot transmit COVID-19. Proper precautions, such as social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing a mask, should still be taken.

The Department’s COVID-19 contact tracing fact sheet is a great source of information about how contact tracing works. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides in-depth information about the principles and importance of contact tracing.