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

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. These symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure.

  • Fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

 

Call before you go

Call your doctor or your County Health Department if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing. 

Tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested.

Consult your health care provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

 

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

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.

This virus most likely originally emerged from an animal source and now appears to be spreading from person-to-person. Currently, COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically 2 to 14 days, although in some cases it may be longer.

If you are returning from an area with an outbreak of COVID-19 the CDC is recommending you self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon returning from your travels, even if asymptomatic. If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath during those 14 days contact your health care professional and mention your recent travel. Your provider will work with your county public health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from an impacted area, you should call a health care professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel.  For the most updated travel advisories regarding COVID-19, visit: U.S. Travel Advisories and CDC Information for Travel.

There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection available online.

Your healthcare professional will work with your county health department to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

A person who is tested will have three specimens taken: oral, nasal, and saliva. The samples will be given to the county health department, who will then either ship or deliver them to the closest state laboratory. If a specimen is tested positive, it will be identified as ‘presumptive positive’ until the result is confirmed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information on COVID-19 testing see CDC Tests for COVID-19.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Learn about COVID-19 Treatment.