Diagnosed with or Exposed to COVID-19
What Now? Care Connect Resources

Updated March 22, 2024

If you have recently been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 or are concerned that you have symptoms, you may be wondering what to do next.

Take Steps to Protect Others

If you think you may have a respiratory virus, including COVID-19, take steps to protect others.

Get Tested and Seek Treatment

Getting tested as soon as possible is important and allows you to seek the right treatment—especially if you are at greater risk for getting very sick. If you test positive, you may be eligible for treatment. Speak to your health care provider about the options that are available to you. Learn more about COVID-19 testing and treatment.

Stay Home

If you have respiratory virus symptoms that are not caused by allergies or if you test positive for COVID-19 or another respiratory virus, follow CDC guidance for preventing others from getting sick.

You can go back to your normal activities when both of the following have been true for at least 24 hours:

  • Your symptoms are getting better, and
  • You have not had a fever and are not using fever-reducing medication.

You can tell your symptoms are improving when you start to feel better and you feel well enough to fully participate in activities at work or school.

Respiratory virus infections can cause many symptoms. Some symptoms last beyond the period of time when a person can spread the virus; for example, a lingering cough. Having a single symptom or a combination of symptoms is not as important as the overall sense of feeling better and feeling that you can fully resume activities.

When You Return to Your Normal Activities

When return to your normal activities, wear a mask and take extra precautions for 5 days:

  • Take steps to improve air flow and filtration in spaces where you will be around others.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Clean regularly.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Test when you will be around other people indoors. You could be contagious with a respiratory virus after returning to your normal activities, so it is important to take additional precautions to help others stay healthy.

Congregate Living: Shelters and Corrections Facilities

Individuals employed by or living in homeless shelters or corrections facilities should follow guidance from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) for these types of facilities.


Employers should continue to follow workplace guidance from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: Requirements and Guidance for Preventing COVID-19.

How Long is a Person Contagious?

  • COVID-19: People are often contagious for 5-10 days after their illness begins.
  • Flu: People may be contagious for up to 5-7 days after their illness begins.
  • RSV: People are usually contagious for 3-8 days after their illness begins.

Some people, such as those with a weakened immune system, can be contagious with a respiratory virus for longer periods of time.

Visit the Washington State Department of Health website to learn more about steps you can take to prevent others from getting sick.

What Happens Next?

If you have COVID-19, it is important for others who may have been exposed to you to be notified. You can get a head start on helping your friends, loved ones and community by letting your close contacts know that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Don’t worry, it’s possible to do this while keeping your identity and health information completely confidential by using a secure public health app provided by tellyourcontacts.org. Visit the site to learn more.

Get Help If You’re at Home with COVID-19

Need help with groceries, getting medications, childcare or paying bills while you stay home? Help is available. Learn about Care Connect Washington.