What do I do if I think I was exposed to COVID-19?

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.

Some people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may need hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die. If you are concerned about a potential exposure, here is what you can do.


Watch for symptoms

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

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at increased risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Talk to your health care provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Children can also be infected with, get sick from, and spread the COVID-19 virus. Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms (asymptomatic) can still spread the virus to others.

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


When to seek emergency medical attention

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your health care provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.


Get tested

If you are concerned about a potential exposure, you should talk to your health care provider and get tested for COVID-19.

Regardless of whether you are unvaccinated or fully vaccinated, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should keep your distance, be evaluated by a health care provider, and get tested. You can find testing locations here.

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms here and testing here.

Authorized at-home over-the-counter tests do not require a prescription and are typically available online or at local stores.

Read the Surgeon General’s guidance for positive COVID-19 tests and confirmed exposure.


Talk to your health care provider about potential treatments

Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by a health care provider.

Monoclonal antibody therapy can prevent hospitalization or death in high-risk patients with COVID-19 and are available in Florida.

  • Treatment is free and vaccination status does not matter. If you are 12 years and older and are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, you are eligible for this treatment.
    • In clinical trials, monoclonal antibody treatment showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death.
    • For high-risk patients who have been exposed to someone with COVID19, Regeneron can give you temporary immunity to decrease your odds of catching the infection by over 80%.
  • There is currently a standing order in Florida signed by the State Surgeon General that allows patients to receive this treatment without a prescription or referral if administered by an eligible health care provider. Such referrals are not required at any of the State of Florida monoclonal antibody treatment sites and treatments are available at no cost to patients.

Veklury (Remdesivir) is an FDA-approved therapeutic that is effective as an early treatment against COVID-19.

  • This treatment is approved for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, or have mild-to-severe COVID-19 and have a high risk of progression to severe COVID-19.
  • All patients over 28 days of age and 3 kilograms (7 pounds) are eligible to receive this treatment. It is the first FDA-approved treatment for children under 12 years old.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravir oral antiviral treatment sites are now available in Florida.

Click here to find a treatment site.

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.

Many state-run and local testing sites are available throughout Florida.  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.

To find a testing site near you, click 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.