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Instructions for Close Contacts


If you are a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms:

  1. Wear a well-fitting mask indoors around others for 10 days
  2. Get tested 3-5 days after you were last exposed
    If your test result is positive, isolate.
    Note: if you had a positive COVID test within the last 30 days testing is not recommended unless you have symptoms. Learn more.
  3. Monitor your health for 10 days
    If symptoms start, stay home, and get tested.

Note: these instructions are not intended for employees exposed at work. See additional resources for more information.


LAC DPH Guidelines for COVID-19 Cases (Isolation) and Close Contacts: English | Spanish

What is a Close Contact?

You are a "close contact" if you shared the same indoor airspace with someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while they were infectious.

Examples of indoor airspaces are homes, waiting rooms, airplanes. An example of "a total of 15 minutes or more" is being in the same airspace with the person for 5 minutes at least 3 different times in 24 hours.

Note: A different definition of a close contact may be used if you are exposed at work, school, or very large indoor spaces.


As long as you do not have symptoms, you do not need to stay away from others. You should take the following steps lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.

To count the days: Day 0 is the day of your last contact (exposure) with the infected person.

Wear a well-fitting mask around others indoors through Day 10
This is especially important when you are around people at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. See ph.lacounty.gov/masks for more details about masks that offer the best protection.

Test for COVID-19 3-5 days after your last exposure

In addition, it is recommended that you get tested right away if you or someone you live with is at higher risk for severe illness. If you test negative before Day 3, retest again between Days 3 and 5, with at least 24 hours between the first and second test.

If you test positive at any time, you must stay home away from others and follow isolation requirements at ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation.

Note: it is recommended that negative results from antigen tests, including self-tests should be repeated, see FDA instructions on repeat testing.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days

If you are a contact to someone with COVID-19:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, test right away using antigen tests.
  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19:
    • You should get tested if your first positive test was 31-90 days ago. It is best to use antigen tests.
    • Testing is not recommended if your first positive test was 30 days ago or less.

Monitor your health through Day 10

If you develop symptoms, stay home away from others, get tested, and ask about free COVID-19 treatment (see box below). If you test positive or your doctor diagnoses you with COVID-19, you must follow isolation requirements at ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation.

If you test negative, follow LAC DPH COVID-19 guidance at Learn about Symptoms and What to do If you are Sick.

If you have symptoms, ask about COVID-19 treatment. COVID-19 treatment can prevent people with early COVID-19 infection from getting very sick. Many adults and some children qualify for free medicines, such as Paxlovid. The oral medicines must be started within 5 days from the start of your symptoms. Talk to your doctor or call the Public Health Tele-Health Service (1-833-540-0473 – open 7 days a week, 8:00 am – 8:30 pm) to see if treatment is right for you, even if you test negative. Tell them you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. See ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines to learn more.

  • If you need help finding a doctor, call 2-1-1.
  • Workers:
  • Mental health resources:
    • Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LAC DMH) 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-854-7771.
    • Local mental health & wellbeing resources are available on the LAC DMH COVID-19 webpage and the 211LA webpage 211la.org/resources/subcategory/mental-health. More information, including a list of crisis hotlines, is available on the CDC webpage Coping with Stress.
    • LA County residents have free access to iPrevail.com, an online mental health resource in English and Spanish. Features include on-demand chat with trained peer coaches, community support groups, and self-paced lessons to help with life's everyday stressors.  

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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