What to Do if You are Sick or Possibly Exposed
Updated 4/4/2020 at 8:15am
Symptoms of COVID-19 typically include fever, cough or shortness of breath. Here is guidance on what to do:
- What to do if you have confirmed COVID-19
- What to do if your doctor told you that you probably have COVID-19 but that you shouldn't come in for a test
- What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19
- What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms but haven't been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- What to do if someone in your home is sick from COVID-19
- What to do if your job is performing essential services
- Restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
- Do not go to work, school or public areas.
- Avoid using public transportation, taxis, or ride-share.
- Monitor your symptoms and call before visiting your doctor. If you have an appointment, be sure you tell them you have or may have COVID-19.
- If you have one, wear a facemask around other people, such as sharing a room or vehicle, or around pets and before entering a healthcare provider's office.
- If you can't wear a mask because it's hard for you to breathe while wearing one, then keep people who live with you out of your room, or have them wear a facemask if they come in your room.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw away in a lined trashcan. Wash hands thoroughly afterwards. Soap and water is best.
- Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes and glasses, or bedding.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you can't wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub hands together until dry.
- Clean all "high touch" surfaces every day, such as counters, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones, and keyboards.
- Use a household cleaning product to clean, following the manufacturer's recommendations.
- If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Notify dispatch that you have or may have COVID-19.
- Public Health will tell you when to stop isolating.
What to do if your doctor told you that you probably have COVID-19 but that you shouldn't come in for a test
- Follow all instructions under "what to do if you have confirmed COVID-19" above, except Public Health will not be telling you when to stop isolating. Instead follow the instructions below:
- Stay home and avoid others until you have been 72 hours without a fever (without fever-reducing medicine), you don't have respiratory symptoms, and it has been seven days since the first day you had symptoms.
First, know that you generally need to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to get infected. Close contact includes scenarios like living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you or you had direct contact with their body secretions.
If you may have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 but are not sick
- Monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the sick person.
- Stay home as much as possible; do not go to work. Avoid public places for 14 days.
If you are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are sick
- If you are sick with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild, isolate yourself.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness (over 60, with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant) call your health care provider. They may want to test you for COVID-19.
- If you have symptoms but are not in a high risk category, talk with your health care provider. They will help you determine if you need to be evaluated.
What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms but haven't been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, but there are other possible symptoms as well. These can be symptoms of other illnesses as well as COVID-19.
- If you are in a high-risk category, and have symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider for advice. If you are at risk for serious illness, your healthcare provider may arrange a test for COVID-19.
- If you do not have a high risk condition and your symptoms are mild, you do not need to be tested for COVID-19. Isolate yourself in your home, and do not go out when you are sick. Practice excellent hygiene and if you have others in your home, isolate yourself in one room (if possible).
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Do not share personal household items. Clean your hands often. Clean all "high-touch" surfaces like doorknobs often.
- Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if symptoms worsen.
- Stay home and avoid others until you have been 72 hours without a fever (without fever-reducing medicine), your symptoms improve, and it has been seven days since the first day you had symptoms.
- The sick person should be in their own room and should have their own bathroom, if feasible. They should have the door closed, and food and other needs should be left outside their door for them to pick up.
- The CDC has additional guidance for how to clean and disinfect your home if someone is sick, including how to clean surfaces, linens, dishes, and trash.
What to do if your job is performing essential services (such as healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, etc.)
- Because we have community spread of COVID-19 in Dane County, essential service personnel should assume that they have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 or will at some point.
- With community spread and limited testing, our guidance is the same whether someone has a confirmed COVID-19 test or not.
- Read our fact sheet to learn more about what to do.
- If you have questions related to COVID-19, you can:
- Text COVID19 to 211-211
- Visit 211Wisconsin.org, or
- Call 211
- Call volumes are high, please be patient and try to use the text or online options first