If You Are Sick

Page originally published 1/11/2024, last updated 3/12/2024.

Steps to Take When Sick with a Respiratory Virus

If you have, or are likely to have, a respiratory virus infection, like COVID-19flu, or RSV, take steps to protect yourself and others. If you have any emergency warning signs (like trouble breathing or chest pain) seek emergency care immediately. See COVID-19, flu, and RSV webpages for a list of emergency signs.

Please adhere to the following if you develop respiratory virus illness:

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  • Stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick. 
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  • Monitor symptoms and follow healthcare provider instructions.
    • Rest, drink fluids, and use over-the-counter medicines for fever as needed.
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  • Go back to normal activities when:
    • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, and
    • Symptoms are getting better overall.

When going back to normal activities, take added steps for safety over the next 5 days:

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  • Wear a high-quality mask or respirator when around others, especially people at higher risk.
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  •  Practice good hygiene and cleaning.
    • Avoid sharing personal household items.
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as countertops, handrails, and doorknobs regularly.
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  • Test and treat.  
    • Test for COVID-19 and flu. If you test positive, contact your healthcare provider and ask about medications.
    • Medications for COVID-19 and the flu work best when started right after symptoms begin.
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  • Stay up-to-date with recommended immunizations.

Workplace, Healthcare, School, and Childcare Settings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for different settings, including workplace, healthcare, school, and childcare settings.


  • CDC’s Respiratory Virus Guidance provides practical recommendations and information to help people lower health risks posed by a range of common respiratory viral illnesses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV.
  • If You Are Sick With a Respiratory Viruses Quick Response (QR) Posters.
  • 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.
    • Home Test-to-Treat is a program that offers free tests and free treatment (if eligible) for COVID-19 and Flu at home 24/7. No insurance or appointments needed.
  • Many resources are available through 2-1-1 San Diego for people who have been affected by a COVID-19, including the County Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program as well as other resources.

For more information, contact the Epidemiology Unit at (619) 692-8499 or send us an e-mail.