When do I need to isolate or quarantine for COVID-19?

Last updated on Saturday, Nov 21 2020, 02:18:32 PM

Isolation and quarantine separate people who have or may have COVID-19 or another contagious disease from people who are not sick. more

Help is available for Rhode Islanders living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. more

Quarantine if you are at a high risk for developing COVID-19

  • Anyone arriving from another country must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Rhode Island.
  • Anyone coming to Rhode Island for a non-work-related purpose from a hot spot within the US must quarantine for 14 days from arrival in Rhode Island. As an exception, you may provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 that was taken within 72 hours before arriving in Rhode Island. more
  • Close contacts of someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days after the last time they had contact with the sick person. Even if you get a negative test result, you must still quarantine for 14 days. 
  • If you have been identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you may be contacted by RIDOH. RIDOH will conduct an interview and will provide guidance on whether you need to quarantine and what that quarantine entails.
  • Additional guidance for public health, public safety, social service providers, and healthcare workers.

What to do if you or a close contact has COVID-19

Isolate if you have symptoms or test positive

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate at home and call your healthcare provider. Get a COVID-19 test.

If you test positive for COVID-19, RIDOH will call you within a few days. If you learn that you are positive for COVID-19 before RIDOH calls you, you should take action right away. Do not wait for RIDOH to call you to start making changes in your life and your daily routine.

  • Stay home (isolate) for at least 10 days. Someone with COVID-19 needs to isolate even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
    • If you have symptoms, stay home for at least 10 days since you started having symptoms.
    • If you do not have symptoms, stay home for at least 10 days from the day you were tested.
    • Have things you need delivered. Ask friends and family to drop off items that you need at your door, like food and other necessities.
    • Do not go to work or school for at least 10 days. Call your employer or school to inform them that you have tested positive and will be out for at least 10 days.
    • Call your primary care provider if you have one to let them know you have tested positive.
    • If you have a weakened immune system, also known as being “immunocompromised,” you may need to isolate for 20 days. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think this applies to you.
  • Do your best to keep a distance from those you live with.
    • If you can, use a separate bathroom and bedroom. Stay out of the kitchen and other rooms where people in your home gather.
    • If you must be in the same room as others, wear a mask.
  • Get help if you feel sick. Call your primary care provider or an urgent care center to get medical advice.
    • Tell them you have COVID-19.
    • Call 911 or the nearest hospital if you think you are having a medical emergency. This can include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, the inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • Write a list of the people you have been in close contact with, within six feet for at least 15 minutes, during the two days before you got tested or started having COVID-19 symptoms until the time you started isolating at home. These are people who might get COVID-19 from being around you.
    • Consider any contacts you spend time with, visit, volunteer with, ride in a car with, or attend a place of worship with.
    • Let your close contacts know you have COVID-19.
  • Answer the phone when RIDOH calls. Answering questions about why you were tested, your symptoms, and who you have been in close contact with will help RIDOH slow the spread of COVID-19.
    • RIDOH can also help you get some things you may need while you need to stay home.
    • You can sign up for a text message monitoring program. Through this program, you can send texts to RIDOH if you need things while at home, such as food and other supports.
    • Help is available for Rhode Islanders living in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. more
    • For more general questions, write to RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov.

Ending home isolation

If you have COVID-19, you can end isolation and leave home after these three things have happened:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared (20 days if you are immunocompromised*) and
  • You have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Your symptoms have improved

If you tested positive but never had symptoms, you must isolate for 10 days from the date that you were tested (20 days if you are immunocompromised*).

*Review more detailed guidance on quarantine and isolation for different populations.

Except for rare situations, after testing positive, you do not need to get another test for COVID-19 to end isolation.

Quarantine if someone you live with tests positive

  • If someone you live with tests positive, you need to stay home too. This is because you have been in close contact with them while they have had COVID-19. You could get COVID-19 and spread it to others.
  • While the person who tested positive stays home, if you cannot avoid close contact with them and keep a physical distance of six feet at all times, you must stay at home (quarantine) for the time that they are infected (10 days) plus an additional 14 days.
    • This is because symptoms can develop up to 14 days after the last day of being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • While the person who tested positive stays home, if you can avoid additional contact with them and completely separate from them while they stay in a separate bedroom at all times, you must stay at home (quarantine) for 14 days from when they began home isolation.
    • If the person who tested positive is able to stay in their own room, people in the house should bring them their food and check on them from a distance.
  • Call the employers and schools of everyone living in your household to let them know people will not be at work or school. Everyone who lives with a person in isolation for COVID-19 should plan on being home for 14 to 24 days. RIDOH will give the person who tested positive the exact dates when they call.
    • Watch for all the symptoms of COVID-19 in everyone living with you.
    • Do a temperature check twice a day (fever is greater than 100.4 degrees F).
  • Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
    • Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or look online for a testing site.
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test negative, you still must remain in quarantine.
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test positive, you should continue to stay at home and follow the instructions above for what you need to do if you test positive.  

Quarantine if a close contact you don’t live with tests positive

Generally, a close contact is someone you have been within six feet of for 15 minutes or more starting two days before they got tested or started having symptoms of COVID-19.  Someone that you briefly interacted with from a distance of more than six feet is not a close contact.

  • Stay home (quarantine) for 14 days from the day they were last with you.
  • Call your employer or school to let them know you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and are staying at home awaiting a call from RIDOH.
    • RIDOH can provide an absence note from work or school for people in quarantine.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
    • Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or look online for a testing site.
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test negative, you still must remain in quarantine.
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test positive, you should continue to stay at home and follow the instructions above for what you need to do if you test positive.  
  • Answer the phone when RIDOH calls. RIDOH will call close contacts to provide information about quarantining. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19. RIDOH can also help get some things for people who need to stay home.

What to do in a group setting, like on a sports team or in or an office, where someone tests positive

  • As much as possible, people should stay six feet apart and masked.
  • If possible, the people who had the most contact with the person who tested positive should shift their work and other activities from in person to virtual for 14 days.
  • Anyone who was within six feet of the person who tested positive for more than 15 minutes while the person was infectious should stay home from all activities, including work, and follow the directions above under What you need to do if a close contact you don’t live with tests positive.
    • A person with COVID-19 who has symptoms is infectious starting two days before the symptoms started. A person with COVID-19 who does not have symptoms is infectious starting two days before the day they were tested.
  • As you communicate with people in your group, you can use the following language from RIDOH:
    • A person in our group has tested positive for COVID-19. You have probably been in close contact with the infected person. RIDOH recommends that close contacts stay home and follow the recommendations at health.ri.gov/covid/whattodo. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19.

Additional information