CDC: What to do if you were exposed to COVID

Take precautions for 10 days

(Arnulfo Franco, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The CDC relaxed its COVID guidelines last week, dropping the recommendation that people quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.

The agency also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The determination was made because they estimate that around 95% of people 16 and older have some level of immunity -- either from a vaccine or an infection.

Read: You should be taking multiple at-home COVID tests to confirm negative result, FDA says

So, what should you do? Below is the latest advice from the CDC’s website.

After being exposed to COVID

As soon as you find out you were exposed you should start wearing a mask around other people and count the days since exposure.

  • Day 0 is the day of your last exposure to someone with COVID.
  • Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.

Take precautions for 10 days

Wear a high-quality mask or respirator (N95) any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public.

Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask. That includes travel and public transportation.

Take even more precautions around people who know are more likely to get very sick from COVID.

Watch for the following symptoms:

If you have symptoms, isolate immediately and get tested. Stay home until you know the results of the test. If you test positive, you should follow the CDC’s isolation recommendations.

Get tested on day 6

You should get tested for COVID at least five full days after your last exposure. You should get tested even if you don’t have symptoms.

Click here for more information if you’ve had COVID within the past 90 days.

If you test negative, continue taking precautions through day 10. If you test positive, you should isolate yourself immediately.


If you test positive for COVID, stay home for at least five days and isolate yourself from others within your home. You are likely most infectious during the first five days, according to the CDC.

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public.
  • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask.
  • Do not travel.
  • Stay home and separate from others as much as possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Ending isolation

If you had no symptoms, you can end isolation after five days.

If you had symptoms, you may end isolation after day five if you are fever-free for 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medication, and your symptoms are improving. If your fever does not go away, isolate yourself until your symptoms improve.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.