What to do if You're Sick or Exposed to COVID-19

UPDATED 1/13/22

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What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

What to do if you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19

Important notes

  • See this guidance as a printable PDF here: English, Spanish
  • These are guidelines for the general population. Certain settings like schools, congregate settings, and health care facilities may have additional guidance. Please see our updated school and childcare/preschool guidance (updated 1/6/22).
  • When we say "wear a mask" throughout this page, we mean a surgical, KN95, or N95 mask (not a cloth mask)!
  • Washtenaw County is still at a high level of COVID-19 transmission. Everyone should wear a well-fitting mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Did you test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test? We are not collecting data on positive at-home tests. You do not need to report positive at-home tests to the health department. We will not issue letters for employers/schools/travel for at-home test results. If you will need proof of your positive test for work, school, or travel, please get a COVID-19 test from a provider. 
  • If you have additional questions not addressed on this page, please email [email protected] or call 734-544-6700 and leave a message.


What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Anyone who develops symptoms should avoid others and get tested (PCR or rapid antigen). If positive, follow isolation guidance. If negative, stay home until symptoms resolve. If symptoms worsen or change, follow up with your medical provider and consider getting another COVID-19 test

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, as well as severe tiredness/fatigue, sore throat, muscle or body aches, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, runny nose/congestion, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea. Call ahead before going to your healthcare provider. 


What to do if you've tested positive for COVID-19 (isolation guidance)

1) Start isolating yourself right away. Stay home except to get medical care. Stay away from everyone else in your household (stay in a separate room, use separate bathroom if possible, etc.). Tell your employer you have COVID-19.

2) Tell your close contacts so they can follow quarantine guidance. A close contact is anyone who had face-to-face contact (or other physical contact) with an infected person within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, within the 48 hours before the infected person developed symptoms or tested positive. Please note there may be exceptions to this criteria in certain cases where the risk of transmission is higher (e.g. contact during high impact sports). 

CDC guidelines for the general population, regardless of vaccination status:

3) On Day 5, do you have no symptoms or are your symptoms resolving? ("Resolving symptoms" means your symptoms have gotten noticeably better. Some symptoms (like fatigue and loss of smell) may last a longer time. If you have questions, please call your medical provider to discuss.)

  • If yes, you can stop isolation on day 6*. Wear a well-fitting mask around others (including household members) through day 10. Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness and avoid high-risk settings (like being around grandparents) until after at least 10 days. Avoid travel and take precautions through day 10.
  • If no, you should not stop isolation. Continue isolating until symptoms resolve or 10 days have gone by since you tested positive or first developed symptoms*. 

*No one should leave isolation until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. If symptoms are not resolving or are worsening, seek medical care.

NOTE: If you develop symptoms after testing positive, your isolation period starts over. Day 0 is your first day of isolation

Additional recommendations from the Washtenaw County Health Department:

Taking these extra steps can further reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.

  • Take a rapid antigen test on day 5 of isolation. 
    • If negative, end isolation on day 6 and wear a mask around others through day 10.
    • If positive, continue to isolate through day 10.
  • If you end isolation on day 6, be more cautious through day 10. Limit being around others as much as you can. 
  • If you are often around vulnerable populations (e.g., immunocompromised or elderly people): 
    • Consider continuing isolation for longer (a full 10 days).
    • If you decide to stop isolation before 10 days, take a rapid antigen test. If positive, consider isolating for the full 10 days.

A Note on Testing

A positive at-home test is considered a positive and does not need to be confirmed with a PCR or additional test. Local testing resources are stretched thin and transmission is high - if you have already tested positive, we do not recommend testing again before at least 5 days have passed and any symptoms improved or resolved. In some cases you may need a record of an official PCR test, such as for future travel or medical/insurance records, but it is not necessary for confirmation of infection. 

How to count days after testing positive:

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Recommendations for Isolating a Sick Person to Protect Other Household Members

  • Stay in a separate room from the rest of your household members. 
  • Use a separate bathroom if possible. 
  • Keep toothbrushes separate if you must use the same bathroom. 
  • Family and roommates should avoid contact with sick person and practice self-quarantine. 
  • Wear a mask if you go into shared spaces.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. Learn about disinfecting your home if someone is sick from CDC.
  • Review our specific recommendations for Isolation, Quarantine, Self-Monitoring and Social Distancing:  English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic

Managing Symptoms at Home

  • Many can manage mild symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever, fatigue, abdominal cramps, mild nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, at home. Consult with your health care provider about managing your symptoms.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) for fever. Follow label instructions and do not exceed the maximum dose per day for any medication. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about your personal health.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks. Eat when possible. 
  • Review 10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home from CDC.

When to Seek Medical Care

Call your doctor if you have: 

  • Fever that does not come down with medication. 
  • Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours or any bloody diarrhea. 
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Symptoms that keep getting worse and feel unmanageable.
  • Other reported symptoms include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, severe tiredness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, runny nose, and/or a new loss of taste or smell

Call ahead to the Emergency Department or Call 9-1-1 if you have: 

  • Difficulty breathing/inability to catch your breath. 
  • Chest pain or persistent pressure. 
  • Feel faint, light-headed, new confusion, or unstable in any other way.
  • Bluish lips or face

When Seeking Care at a Health Care Facility:

  • Call ahead to get instructions from your health care provider. 
  • Avoid using public transportation to get to your medical provider or emergency department. Do not use busses, Uber, Lyft, or taxi cabs. If you are unable to drive yourself and do not have a ride, call 9-1-1 for transport by ambulance. Inform them of your symptoms ahead of time. 
  • If a family member or friend is giving you a ride, wear a mask while you are in the vehicle with them. 
  • If you are driving yourself, put on a mask before exiting your vehicle.

Information on Monoclonal Antibody Therapy:

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a treatment option that may be available for high-risk people who test positive for COVID-19. This treatment can reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, there is very limited capacity locally and across the state for this treatment. At this time, not everyone who is qualified for this therapy will not be able to access it. We are currently working in partnership with our local health care systems to expand access.

Monoclonal antibody (MAb) treatment is an investigational therapy used to treat mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. It is approved for emergency use in non-hospitalized adults and pediatric patients who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms or the need for hospitalization. MAbs may be given as an infusion or a series of injections. This therapy is investigational and under Emergency Use Authorization.

If you test positive, talk to your primary care provider or an urgent care provider right away to see if you quality for MAb therapy. If you qualify, the provider may be able to refer you to treatment location. You must have a referral from a health care provider to access this treatment. The Health Department does not provide this treatment. 

MAb therapy must be administered within 10 days of symptom onset. This treatment is not a substitute for vaccines – it is still best to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent getting ill in the first place.

Learn more about how monoclonal antibody therapy works and who may qualify here.



What to do if you've been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19

If you're a "close contact" of someone with COVID-19 (meaning you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19) follow these instructions.

CDC guidelines for the general population:

If you...

  • are 18+ years old, are fully vaccinated, and have gotten a booster (if eligible),* OR
  • are 5-17 years old and have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, OR
  • tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days

Then you don't need to quarantine, but you should:

  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days. Monitor for symptoms. Avoid travel and being around people who are at high risk for severe illness. Take precautions through day 10.
  • Get tested (PCR or rapid antigen) on day 5, if possible. If positive, follow isolation guidance.

*Some immunocompromised people should also have received an additional primary series dose 

If you...
  • are not fully vaccinated, OR
  • got your 2nd dose of Pfizer vaccine more than 5 months ago and have not gotten a booster, OR
  • got your 2nd dose of Moderna vaccine more than 5 months ago and have not gotten a booster, OR
  • got your initial dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago and have not gotten a booster:
Then you should quarantine for at least 5 days:
  • During quarantine, stay home and away from others except to get medical care. Monitor for symptoms. Wear a well-fitting mask if around others at home. Avoid travel and take precautions through day 10.
    • If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately (PCR or rapid antigen) and isolate until you get your results. If you're positive, follow isolation guidance. If negative, stay home until symptoms resolve.
    • If you don't develop symptoms, get tested (PCR or rapid antigen) on day 5 if possible. If positive, follow isolation guidance. If negative or if it is not possible to test, you can stop quarantining on day 6 but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others until day 11. 
  • Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness and avoid high-risk settings (like being around grandparents) until after at least 10 days.
  • If you are unable to quarantine, wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around others (at home and in public). Keep activities to essential tasks only.

Anyone who develops symptoms should avoid others and get tested (PCR or rapid antigen) 

If positive, follow isolation guidance. If negative, stay home until symptoms resolve. If symptoms worsen or change, follow up with your medical provider and consider getting another COVID-19 test.

Additional recommendations from the Washtenaw County Health Department:

Taking these extra steps can further reduce your risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.

  • If you are often around vulnerable populations (e.g., immunocompromised or elderly people): 
    • Consider staying home/quarantining for a full 10 days after exposure.

How to count days after being exposed:

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COVID-19 Testing Information


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