If You Are a Close Contact

Page last updated/reviewed 8/17/2023.

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.

If you have, or are likely to have, COVID-19, take steps to protect yourself and others. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.

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  • Watch for symptoms.
    • If you develop symptoms, isolate immediately, get tested, and stay home until you know the result.
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  • Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure, even if you don’t develop symptoms.

See below, or click the following links, for more information:

Guidance for Close Contacts

General Public (No Quarantine)

Regardless of your COVID-19 vaccine status, if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms (asymptomatic), you do not need to quarantine. However, there are recommended actions:

  • Take a COVID-19 test (either PCR or antigen) 3-5 days after the last exposure.
  • Wear a well-fitted face covering for a total of 10 days after exposure, especially in indoor settings and when near those at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
  • Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms through day 10.

Note: People documented with COVID-19 infection within the previous 90 days do not need to be tested, quarantined, or excluded from work unless symptoms develop.

Vaccines offer the most protection against COVID-19. You are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine or booster(s). If you develop symptoms, wait to get a vaccine or booster(s) until your symptoms resolve. Learn more about getting a COVID-19 vaccine and find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you.

Additional Guidance

High-Risk Settings (Work Exclusion or Quarantine)

High-Risk Settings: Places where there is a higher risk for spreading COVID-19 (e.g., a setting with many people who may not receive full protection from vaccination), and the people who are served are at risk for more serious COVID-19. In such cases, exposed persons should take extra care to follow recommended actions to decrease risk.

The following work exclusions are recommended for staff working in these settings to protect the populations served. Additionally, quarantine guidelines continue for patients, residents, and clients served in these settings:

  • Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
  • Healthcare settings
  • Prisons, jails, and detention centers
  • Homeless shelters
  • Long-term care settings and adult and senior care facilities

Table 1: Close Contacts—Specified High-Risk Settings

Persons Who are Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Work Exclusion/Quarantine) Recommended Actions
  • Unvaccinated OR 
  • Not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations (Vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose).
Recommendations for staff:
  • Exclude from work for at least 5 days, after last exposure.
  • Work exclusion can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a COVID-19 test taken on day 5 or later is negative.
  • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, work exclusion can end after day 10.

Recommendations for residents:

  • Quarantine for at least 5 days after last exposure.
  • Quarantine can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present and a COVID-19 test taken on day 5 or later is negative.
  • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10.

Recommendations for BOTH staff and residents:

  • Follow the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for masking or face coverings. Close contacts should mask for 10 days following an exposure to someone with COVID-19, especially high-risk contacts.
  • Strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted.
  • If symptoms develop, stay home and test as soon as possible, AND
  • If your test result is positive, follow isolation recommendations and visit our What To Do If You Have COVID-19 webpage.

NOTE: It is recommended that while not excluded from work, vaccinated and boosted healthcare personnel working in high-risk settings test immediately upon notification of exposure and at 3-5 days.

How to Calculate Health Monitoring, Work Exclusion, or Quarantine Periods

Quarantine and Health Monitoring Periods

For the general public follow the 10-day health monitoring calendar if you:

  • Are vaccinated, unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, AND
  • DO NOT have COVID-19 symptoms, OR
  • Tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

If you work or live in a high-risk setting, follow the 5-10 day work exclusion or quarantine calendar if you:

  • Are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, OR
  • DO NOT have COVID-19 symptoms, AND
  • Have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

NOTE: If you live or work in a high-risk setting, are fully vaccinated or up-to-date with your vaccinations, OR you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days AND DO NOT have symptoms, follow the 10-day health monitoring calendar and CDPH masking guidance.

Get customized information and guidance with CDC's COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.

Resources

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  • Get customized information and guidance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Isolation and Exposure Calculator.
  • San Diego County provides FREE COVID-19 testing. Find testing locations near you. If you have further questions, contact your medical provider or 2-1-1 San Diego.
  • If you test positive and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying from the disease.
    • 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 information.
  • 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.