WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE COVID-19
This page is updated as needed, last updated on 10/4/22.
If you have, or are likely to have COVID-19, taking steps to protect
yourself and others will help end this pandemic. Because you have a
virus that can easily spread to others, it is important that you
separate yourself from others and self-isolate. This is also mandated
by the County of San Diego Public Health Officer Order.
On this page you will find the Health Officer Order for Isolation of All Persons With or Likely to Have COVID-19 that outlines the legal mandate to isolate, instructions for home isolation, recommendations for close contacts, and resources available.
Ending Home Isolation
These instructions are for everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status or previous COVID-19 infection:
- Stay home and isolate for at least 5* full days after start of symptoms (or after first positive test).
- Take another COVID-19 test** (either PCR or antigen) on day 5 or later. A negative test is required to end isolation after day 5.
- If fever is present, continue to isolate until 24 hours after fever resolves.
- If symptoms, other than fever, are not improving, or your test was positive again, continue to isolate until symptoms resolve or until 10 days after start of symptoms (or after first positive test).
- Per California Department of Public Health (CDPH) masking guidance, people with COVID-19 should wear a well-fitted face covering around others for a total of 10 days, especially in indoor settings.
* Some people may need to isolate at home longer. This includes people who are 1) severely or critically ill or 2) who have very weak immune systems. Ask your healthcare provider for advice or if you are not sure if this applies to you.
** If you are unable to test or choose not to test again, or if you test positive on Day 5 (or later), isolation can end after Day 10, as long as you have no fever for at least 24 hours without using medications to reduce fever.
Get customized information and guidance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.
Health care workers and those who live, work, or attend school in certain settings have different isolation recommendations. Please refer to the Health Officer Order for Isolation of All Persons With or Likely to Have COVID-19 for current instructions.
Information for Your Close Contacts
Please reach out to anyone you have had close contact with to let
them know about their exposure to COVID-19 and share the guidance
recommended for them.
For close contacts in the general public with no symptoms, regardless of vaccination status (No Quarantine):
- Test within 3-5 days after last exposure to someone with
- Close contacts should follow guidance for face covering for a total
of 10 days, especially in indoor settings and when near those at
higher risk for severe COVID-19.
- Strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted.
What is a close contact?
A “close contact” is anyone who was exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 while they were infectious. You are considered to be infectious starting 48 hours/2 days before your symptoms began (for individuals who do not have symptoms, this is 48 hours/2 days before your test was taken) until your isolation period ends.
A close contact includes:
Someone sharing the same indoor airspace (i.e., home, clinic waiting room, or airplane), for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hours (e.g., exposed to three infected individuals, three 5-minute exposures, for a total of 15 minutes), during an infected person's laboratory-confirmed or clinically diagnosed infectious period.
4. Watch closely for symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
5. If symptoms develop or test result is positive, stay home and follow the Home Isolation Instructions.
Note: If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you do not need to be tested, quarantined, or excluded from work unless symptoms develop.
For close contacts in high-risk exposures or settings,* visit the Close Contact webpage for additional guidance on work exclusion and quarantine.
*What are High-Risk Exposures and High-Risk Settings?
High-Risk Exposures — Activities that may have a higher risk for spreading COVID-19, such as:
- Being with a close partner and/or household member.
- Sharing an indoor space with longer periods of face-to-face contact.
- Engaging in some unmasked activities like cheering at crowded events, playing contact sports, or indoor group singing.
High-Risk Settings — Places where there is a higher risk for spreading COVID-19 (like a setting with many people who may not receive full protection from vaccination), and the people that are served are at risk for more serious COVID-19. High-risk settings include places, such as:
Resources and Information
- The County may provide FREE treatment for persons with
symptoms who test positive for COVID-19 AND are at risk for
serious complications of COVID-19 AND are uninsured or
Please talk to your doctor first to find out if you qualify for treatment.
You may qualify for treatment if:
- You tested positive for COVID-19 AND
- Your symptoms began within the last 5 days (for the antiviral pills) AND
- You are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
See the patient handout to learn more about free
treatment. Call the MARC at
(619) 685-2500 if you want to
schedule an appointment if you meet eligibility criteria and cannot
access treatment through a doctor. For questions, please email the
MARC at COVIDtreatment@sdcounty.ca.gov.
Please do not go to the emergency department just to seek antiviral treatment or COVID-19 testing. Our emergency departments are impacted by the surge of COVID-19 cases and should be reserved for people with emergency medical conditions.
- Test to Treat sites offer no cost, confidential testing and treatment. Oral antiviral treatment is available to individuals who qualify, including those without insurance. Please call (888) 634-1123 to schedule an appointment at an OptumServe site for testing and treatment with Paxlovid, if eligible. You may also call SesameCare at (888) 897-1244 to schedule a no-cost telehealth visit, which includes a prescription for treatment with Paxlovid for those who are eligible.
- Many resources are available through 2-1-1 San Diego
for people who have been affected by COVID-19, including the County
Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program as well as other
resources. Call 2-1-1 or visit the 2-1-1 San Diego website for more
- Resources from the federal government, like free masks, treatment options, vaccines, at-home testing kits, and guidance are available to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19. Visit COVID.gov or call 1-800-232-0233 for more information.
After You Have Recovered from COVID-19
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that
you get a COVID-19 vaccine after you have recovered
from COVID-19. You will need to wait until after your home
isolation has ended. You can visit our COVID-19 Vaccine web page for more
information or to schedule an appointment.
- Project SAVE is available for assistance with scheduling vaccine appointments. Project SAVE (Scheduling Assistance for Vaccine Equity) is a community partnership program for people who are unable to schedule appointments for reasons related to technology, language, or other challenges. For more information, see the Project SAVE handout or Proyecto SAVE (en Español).
- We also encourage you and your family to get a flu vaccine to help prevent illnesses from the flu during the 2021-2022 flu season. Visit our Flu Vaccine Locations page to find a vaccine location near you!