If you were exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested. If you test positive, you should isolate to protect others.

On this page:

Quarantine vs. isolation

Quarantine means staying home after an exposure but before symptoms start. Quarantine is no longer recommended as a strategy for controlling COVID-19.

Isolation means staying home and away from others in your household if you have symptoms or you test positive. If you test positive, contact your doctor to see if you should receive treatment. COVID-19 treatments are free, widely available, and reduce the risk of serious illness. Learn about your treatment options.

Read more at CDPH’s Isolation and Quarantine Guidance and CDC’s Isolation and Precautions.

Calculate your isolation period

If you test positive, use this calculator to determine how long you should isolate. This helps keep others safe. 

Start calculating

Exposure and isolation guidelines

If you were exposed but have no symptoms

Regardless of your vaccination status:

  • Get tested immediately and 3-5 days after last exposure*
  • Wear a mask when around others for 10 days after exposure, even at home if other people are present
  • If you test positive, isolate

*If you had COVID-19 within the last 30 days:

  • You don’t need to test after exposure unless symptoms start
  • If symptoms start, isolate and get tested

If you test positive, whether you have symptoms or not

Regardless of your vaccination status or infection history:

  • Isolate for at least 5 days
    • Sleep and stay in a separate room from those not infected
    • Use a separate bathroom if you can
    • Wear a mask around others, even at home
  • You can end isolation early, after Day 5, if:
    • You have no fever for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication, AND
    • Your other symptoms are gone or improving
  • If you still have a fever, continue to isolate until the fever is gone for at least 24 hours
  • If other symptoms are not improving, continue to isolate through Day 10
  • After you end isolation:
    • Wear a mask around others for 10 full days after start of symptoms. If you had no symptoms, wear a mask for 10 full days after your positive test.
    • You may remove your mask sooner than Day 10 if you have two negative tests in a row, at least one day apart.

For children who test positive:

  • Children under 2 years can end isolation after Day 5
  • Children 2 years and older should follow the steps above for ending isolation

Learn more in What to Do if You Test Positive from CDPH.


Rules for isolation and quarantine may be more restrictive in your area. Check your area’s COVID-19 website.

See CDPH Guidance on Quarantine and Isolation for Health Care Personnel.

Support during isolation

If you can’t work because you have COVID-19, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim

If you can’t work because you are caring for a family member with COVID-19, there is help for your lost wages. File a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim

In both these cases, you must have a note from a healthcare worker.

Questions and answers

When can I be around other people after I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms?

If you continue to have no symptoms:

  • You may leave isolation after Day 5
  • Wear a mask when around others for 10 days, even at home.

Use CDPH’s Isolation Calculator to determine what to do when. 

If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do to protect others in my household?

You should self-isolate (stay home and away from others). Avoid those in your household who have not tested positive: 

  • Sleep and stay in a separate room from them
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • Wear a mask when around others

Multiple infected people in the same household can use the same room for isolation. Learn more in What to Do if You Test Positive from CDPH.

Uninfected members of your household should get tested and mask for 10 days. They do not have to test if they had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 30 days unless symptoms start.

Use CDPH’s Isolation Calculator to determine what to do when.