a person takes their temperature underneath a bunch of blanketsUpdated May 24, 2022

There are many possible symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Here is guidance on what to do:


Do I need to stay home?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19, use the CDC calculator to determine what steps you need to take. To use the calculator, click the button below, then once on the CDC's page, click Get Started.

Isolation and Quarantine Calculator


I Tested Positive for COVID-19

The table below is adapted from the CDC.

Calculating Isolation

Isolate when you feel sick or when you test positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Day 0 is your first day of symptoms or if you haven't had any symptoms, the day of your positive viral test. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed or your test specimen was collected. If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms.
IF YOU
Tested positive for COVID-19 OR have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status
Stay home for at least 5 days
Stay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home.

Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home.

People who cannot wear a mask, including children under 2, should isolate for 10 days.
Ending isolation if you had symptoms
End isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving.

If you were severely ill with COVID-19
You should isolate for at least 10 days. Consult your doctor before ending isolation.

Ending isolation if you did NOT have symptoms
End isolation after at least 5 full days after your positive test. If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms.
Take precautions until day 10

Wear a mask
Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to mask.

Do not travel
Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.

Avoid being around people who are high risk.

You don’t need a negative test to stop isolating. 

Calculate How Long to Isolate

Other things you should do

  • If you had a positive at-home test, report your result. If you or your child has a positive at-home test, you can report your result to help Public Health better understand the level of COVID in our community. Please enter separate surveys for each individual who tested positive via a home test. You should also try to receive a follow-up PCR test collected at a clinic or community test site within 48 hours to confirm the test result.
  • Expect us to reach out. We try to reach everyone who has a positive COVID test collected at a clinic or community test site by phone or text survey to provide isolation instructions. If you receive a phone call or text and would like to verify it is from our agency, you can call (608) 266-4821.

  • 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.
  • Call your doctor if you have one or more of these health conditions. You may be eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Public Health Madison & Dane County is not able to provide treatment for COVID-19.
  • Tell your employer, school, or child care center about your diagnosis. 
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Notify dispatch that you have or may have COVID-19.
  • Notify your close contacts. People in your household, and others you had close contact with need to get tested, stay home, and self-monitor for symptoms. See our exposure guidance for details.
  • Take steps to limit the spread of COVID in your household. This means covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a mask around others in your household, avoiding sharing household items like dishes and bedding, washing your hands often, and cleaning "high touch" surfaces (like counters, doorknobs, and remotes) every day.
  • You don’t need a test to end isolation. If you have access to a test and want to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test towards the end of your 5-day isolation. If you test negative, you can end isolation after meeting the other criteria to stop isolating. If you test positive, you should continue to isolate for your full 10-day isolation period and can stop isolating on day 11.
    • PCR/NAAT tests are not recommended for individuals who recently tested positive because with those tests you can test positive for up to 3 months after your initial positive test.
  • You may receive the opportunity to help researchers learn more about COVID. We are partnering with the CDC and Monash University to learn more about how to prevent COVID-19. If you test positive, you may receive a link to a survey from Monash University after you complete our contact tracing survey. Filling out this survey is appreciated so that researchers can better understand people’s experiences with COVID-19.


I was exposed to someone with COVID-19

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says “close contact” is if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with a person with COVID-19 during their isolation period and/or during the two days prior*, even if they didn’t have symptoms:

  • You were within 6 feet of a person who had COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  • You had direct exposure to respiratory secretions (for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing a drinking glass, utensils, towels or other personal items).
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (for example, a hug, kiss, or handshake).
  • You cared or care for a person who has COVID-19.
  • You lived or live with a person who has COVID-19.
  • You stayed overnight with them for at least one night in the same household.

*A person with COVID-19 is infectious two days before they have symptoms (or two days before their positive test was collected if they did not have symptoms) through the end of their isolation period.

The table below is adapted from the CDC.

Calculating Quarantine

Quarantine and stay away from others when you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Day 1 is the first full day after you last contact with a person who has had COVID-19. Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days.

Calculate How Long to Quarantine
 
IF YOU
Were exposed to COVID-19 and are NOT up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations AND have not had confirmed COVID-19 in the past 90 days

Not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations means you have not received all of your COVID vaccine doses, including any boosters that you are eligible for.
Quarantine for at least 5 days

Stay home
Stay home and quarantine for at least 5 full days.

Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home.

Get tested
Even if you don't develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 
 

People who cannot wear a mask, including children under 2, should quarantine for 10 days.

After quarantine

Watch for symptoms
Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms isolate immediately and get tested. Continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others.
Take precautions until day 10

Wear a mask
Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.

If you must travel during days 6-10, take precautions

Avoid being around people who are high risk
IF YOU 
Were exposed to COVID-19 AND are up-to-date with vaccination AND have not had confirmed COVID-19 in the past 90 days

Up-to-date on COVID vaccinations means you received all of your COVID vaccine doses, including any boosters that you are eligible for.
No quarantine
You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms.

Get tested
Even if you don't develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 
Watch for symptoms
Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms
isolate immediately and get tested. Continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others.
Wear a mask
Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.

Take precautions if traveling

Avoid being around people who are high risk
IF YOU
Had a positive COVID-19 lab or provider-based viral test within the past 90 days (not an antibody or home test)
No quarantine
You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms.

No testing
If you had confirmed COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you do not need to get tested unless you have symptoms. If you develop symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Watch for symptoms
Watch for symptoms until 10 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

If you develop symptoms
isolate immediately and consult with a health care provider about whether you should get tested. If you get tested, continue to stay home until you know the results. Wear a well-fitted mask around others.
Wear a mask
Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.

Take precautions if traveling

Avoid being around people who are high risk

If you can’t quarantine, you must wear a mask around others for 10 days. We strongly recommend quarantine as the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID.


Someone in my home is sick from COVID-19

  • See the CDC guidance, Caring for Someone Sick at Home.
  • The sick person should be in their own room and should have their own bathroom, if possible. 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.
  • The CDC also has information about how to minimize risk if you live in a house with close quarters (e.g., small apartment with more than one person or a house with multiple generations).

I’m a health care worker

Health care workers are subject to different recommendations due to widespread exposure to COVID-19 and their critical role. Health care workers may follow CDC guidelines for critical workers if their employers want them to return to work.

I’m a business owner or manager

See our webpage What to Do If an Employee is Sick or was Possibly Exposed for more information.