If you were told that you’re a close contact of someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine at home for at least 14 days and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
What does it mean to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for at least several minutes (usually about 15 minutes). The virus is spread primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. That is why it is so important to wash your hands often and clean frequently touched surfaces at least daily.
What is quarantine?
Quarantine is used to separate people who are close contacts of someone with a contagious disease, like COVID-19, from others for a period of time to see if they become sick. This is to prevent the spread of disease. When someone is quarantining, they should stay home and avoid contact with other people until the quarantine period is over. This includes avoiding contact with people in their household as much as it is possible.
For COVID-19, the quarantine period is 14 days from the time of last exposure to the person with the disease. For those who live in the same house as someone who has COVID-19, they should continue to quarantine until fourteen (14) days after the date the person with COVID-19 is told they no longer need to practice isolation.
If you are a close contact to someone who had COVID-19 and were told to quarantine, DHEC recommends you get tested even if you have no symptoms. Get tested no earlier than 7 days after your close contact. This test will help identify those who have COVID-19 but do not develop the symptoms. Even if you test negative, you must complete your full quarantine period. It is possible that the test was done before the virus could be detected, and you may still become contagious with the virus. If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate according the guidance provided below.
I was in the same room/building as someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but not in close contact with him/her. What should I do?
If you were not in close contact with someone with COVID-19, your risk of catching the virus from that person is low. Follow the general precautions, including social distancing, washing your hands often, wearing a face mask while in confined public places, and avoiding close contact with sick people.
I was a close contact to someone who is sick but not tested for COVID-19. What should I do?
If you were around someone while they had symptoms, like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or another respiratory virus that causes similar symptoms, like the flu or the common cold. You should continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands often, wear a face mask while in confined public places and monitor for symptoms.
If you develop any symptoms, you should isolate at home and avoid contact with other people. Call your doctor or other healthcare provider to discuss the need to be tested for COVID-19. You may also seek telehealth evaluation and find testing site resources on DHEC’s website.
More information on types of COVID-19 testing and what the results mean are available here.