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Isolation and quarantine

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COVID-19 can easily spread between people who are in close contact with one another. Sonoma County has aligned with CDPH recommendations on isolation and quarantine.

  • If you test positive, follow the isolation guidance below. Except for those in certain high-risk settings (see below), there is no need to quarantine at home if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and don’t have symptoms. You should, though, get tested three to five days after exposure.

Definitions

  • Exposure – Contact with someone infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in a way that increases the likelihood of getting infected with the virus.
  • Infectious period:
    • For those with symptoms, two days before the infected person had any symptoms through day 10 after symptoms first appeared (or through day five if testing negative on day five or later), and 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved, OR
    • For those with no symptoms, two days before the positive specimen collection date through day 10 after positive specimen collection date (or through day five if testing negative on day five or later) after specimen collection date for their first positive COVID-19 test.
    • For the purposes of identifying close contacts and exposures, infected persons who test negative on or after day five and end isolation, in accordance with this guidance, are no longer considered to be within their infectious period. Such persons should continue to follow CDPH isolation recommendations, including wearing a well-fitting face mask through day 10.
  • Close contact – Someone sharing the same indoor airspace, e.g., home, clinic waiting room, airplane etc., for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual five-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during an infected person’s (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) infectious period.
  • High-risk contact– Someone who may experience severe illness if they become infected with COVID-19 or for whom the transmission potential is high (high intensity/duration of indoor exposure). Examples of high-risk contacts include: immunocompromised persons and household contacts of cases.
  • Isolation – Separates those infected with a contagious disease from people who are not infected.
  • Quarantine – Restricts the movement of persons who were exposed to a contagious disease in case they become infected.
  • Work exclusion– Prevents a person from working as an employee or entering a specific work facility
  • Work restriction– Prevents a person from working as an employee performing certain types of work (e.g., direct contact with clients or others), or restriction from contact with specific population
  • Diagnostic testing– An antigen test, nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or LAMP test are acceptable; however, antigen testing is recommended for infected persons to end isolation, and for symptomatic exposed persons who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 within the prior 90 days. Use of over-the-counter tests are also acceptable to end isolation or quarantine.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms include fever, headache, dry cough, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, sore throat, chills, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.

If you develop any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment to get tested as soon as possible or use an at home antigen test.

Who should isolate?

Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status or lack of symptoms should isolate and follow the following recommendations (If you were infected with COVID-19 within the past 90 days and develop symptoms then antigen testing is recommended):

  • Stay home for at least five days(day one is the first day after symptom onset or date of positive test if you have no symptoms.)
  • Isolation can end after day five if symptoms are not present or are resolving and a test (antigen preferred) on day three to five or later is negative
  • If unable to test, choosing not to test, isolation can end after day 10 if fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications
  • If fever is present, isolation should be continued until 24 hours after fever resolves
  • If symptoms, other than fever, are not resolving continue to isolate until symptoms are resolving or until after day 10
  • Wear a well-fitted mask around others for a total of 10 days, especially in indoor settings

In the workplace, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard (PDF), and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements. Additional information about how CDPH isolation and quarantine guidance affects ETS-covered workplaces may be found in Cal/OSHA FAQs.

  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Treat yourself with over-the-counter remedies to reduce your symptoms.
  • Ask friends or loved ones to help. Here’s how they can help:
    • Leave food and drinks at your door
    • Get you medicine to relieve symptoms
    • Help care for children, parents or other dependents
    • Help care for your pets
    • If friends and family come to help, remind them to wear a face covering and wash their hands
  • Call 9-1-1 if you have a life-threatening emergency. Contact your health care provider if you have difficulty breathing, trouble keeping fluids down, dehydration, confusion, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or any other severe symptoms that cause you concern. If you need an ambulance, tell the paramedics you are isolating due to COVID-19.
  • Notify close contacts (people in your home, intimate partners, caregivers and others with whom you have been in close contact recently). Tell them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and they need to get tested
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets
  • Do not share personal household items such as cups, towels and utensils. Wear a well-fitted mask when you need to be around other people

People who are severely ill with COVID-19 (including those who were hospitalized or required intensive care or ventilation support) and people with compromised immune systems might need to isolate at home longer. Consult with your health care provider about when you can resume being around other people.

People who are immunocompromised should talk to their health care provider about the potential for reduced immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and the need to continue to follow current prevention measures (including wearing a well-fitted mask, staying six feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against COVID-19 until advised otherwise by their health care provider. Close contacts of immunocompromised people – including household members – should also be encouraged to receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses to help protect these people.

Who should quarantine?

Note: Persons infected within the prior 90 days do not need to test, quarantine, or be excluded from work unless symptoms develop.

Regardless of vaccination status, those who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and remain without symptoms are recommended to:

  • Test within 3-5 days after last exposure
  • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for a total of 10 days, especially in indoor settings and when near those at higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease (see masking section below for additional information)
  • Strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted
  • If symptoms develop, test and stay home while waiting for result
  • If test result is positive, follow isolation recommendations above

High-risk exposures

Certain exposures may be deemed higher risk for transmission, such as with an intimate partner, in a household with longer periods of exposure, or while performing unmasked activities with increased exertion and/or voice projection or during prolonged close face-face contact (e.g., during contact sports like wrestling, during indoor group singing, during crowded events where cheering occurs like games, concerts or rallies, particularly if indoors). In such cases, exposed persons should be extra vigilant in undertaking recommended mitigation measures.

Similarly, if the close contact is more likely to become infected due to being unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or if they are more likely to transmit the virus to those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19, they should also take greater care in following recommendations to limit spreading the virus to others during the 10 days following their exposure. These close contacts should get tested, and may consider quarantining or self-limiting their exposure to others, and are strongly recommended to follow the testing and mitigation measures outlined in this guidance.

High-risk settings

A high-risk setting is one in which transmission risk is high (e.g., setting with a large number of persons who may not receive the full protection from vaccination due to co-existing medical conditions), and populations served are at risk of more serious COVID-19 disease consequences including hospitalization, severe illness, and death.

High-risk settings include:

    • Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
    • Healthcare settings
    • Local correctional facilities and detention centers
    • Homeless shelters
    • Long term care settings & adult and senior care facilities

Recommended Actions

  • Unvaccinated; OR
  • Incompletely vaccinated (less than 2 weeks after completing your primary series); OR
  • Not infected with SARS-CoV-2 within the prior 90 days

Recommendations for staff:

  • Exclude from work for at least five days, after last exposure
  • Work exclusion can end after day five if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen collected on day five or later tests negative
  • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, work exclusion can end after day 10
  • Comply with CDPH masking guidance (i.e., universal masking and, in some cases, where surgical masks or higher filtration respirators may be required)
  • Strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted
  • If symptoms develop, stay home and test as soon as possible; AND
  • If test result is positive, follow isolation recommendations above

Recommendations for residents:

  • Quarantine for at least five days after last exposure
  • Quarantine can end after day five if symptoms are not present and a diagnostic specimen collected on day five or later tests negative
  • If unable to test or choosing not to test, and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10
  • Comply with CDPH masking guidance (i.e., universal masking and, in some cases, where surgical masks or higher filtration respirators may be required)
  • Strongly encouraged to get vaccinated or boosted
  • If symptoms develop, stay home and test as soon as possible; AND
  • If test result is positive, follow isolation recommendations above

CDPH recommends that while not excluded from work, vaccinated and boosted healthcare personnel working in high-risk settings test immediately upon notification of exposure, and again 3-5 days after exposure. All close contacts, whether quarantined or not:

Should consider testing as soon as possible to determine infection status and follow all isolation recommendations above if tested positive. Knowing one is infected early during quarantine enables (a) earlier access to treatment options, if indicated (especially for those that may be at risk for severe illness), and (b) notification of exposed persons (close contacts) who may also benefit by knowing if they are infected. If testing negative before day three, retest at least a day later, during the 3-5 day window following exposure.

Guidance and information applying to both isolation and quarantine

  • Stay at home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home. Do not have any visitors.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth in indoor settings, including at home, especially if immunocompromised or around those who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or at risk for severe disease.
  • Avoid sharing rooms/spaces with others; if not possible, open windows to outdoor air (if safe to do so) to improve ventilation or use portable air cleaners and exhaust fans.
  • Avoid using the same bathroom as others; if not possible, clean and disinfect after use.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or if you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean or disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Monitor your symptoms.

Resources for Isolation and Quarantine

  • If you need help to stay in isolation or quarantine, we can help connect you with services to support you and your family when you have to stay home.
  • Call 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 211-211 to talk/text with 2-1-1 staff 24/7.
  • Resources are available regardless of immigration status.
  • Find more resources by clicking any of the following links: