Coronavirus Disease 2019

Home Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts to COVID-19

Home isolation guidance PDF
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This guidance is for people who were in close contact with someone with Coronavirus Disease 2019.
If you are a health care worker or first responder, please refer to guidance from your employer.

Why self-quarantine is important

You have been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19 (“infected person”) and even though you feel well now, it is possible that you are also infected. It can take 2 – 14 days to show symptoms, so you may not know for up to 14 days if you are infected or not. You have been asked to self-quarantine (separate from others) in case you are infected so that you don’t pass on the infection to anyone else. It may turn out that you are not infected but it is too soon to tell.

Definition of close contact

The term “close contact” applies to all household members, intimate contacts, caregivers, and individuals with any of the following exposures to an “infected person” while they were infectious*:

  1. Presence within 6 feet of the infected person for more than 10 minutes
  2. Unprotected contact with the infected person’s body fluids and/or secretions, for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing utensils or saliva, or providing care without wearing appropriate protective equipment. Appropriate protective equipment means gloves and a facemask because cloth face coverings do not provide enough protection for an individual who is caring for a person with COVID-19.

*An infected person is considered to be infectious from 48 hours before their symptoms first appeared (or from the date of their positive lab test if they did not have symptoms) until they are no longer required to be isolated (as described in Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19).

Length of quarantine period
  • You need to stay in quarantine for 14 days from when you last had close contact with the infectious person. The infectious person should follow Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19.
  • If you continue to live with or care for the infected person, the amount of time you have to quarantine depends on the type of contact that you have - find the situation that is most like yours in the section “How do I calculate the end date of my quarantine period” at the end of this guidance.
  • If you don’t know when you were exposed to the infectious person and you received a Public Health Emergency Quarantine Order, your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date the order was issued.
Testing for COVID-19

If you do not have symptoms, there is no need to get tested. But if you have been tested and your test is negative, you still need to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days. If your test is positive, you need to follow the Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19.

Restrictions during quarantine

To prevent you from possibly spreading COVID-19 to uninfected people, you must restrict activities and limit all movements that may put you in contact with others during the quarantine period.

  • Stay home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. You may only leave your place of quarantine or enter another public or private place to get necessary medical care.
  • Do not allow visitors.
  • Separate yourself from others in your home (unless they are also in quarantine).
    • Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. It is very important to stay away from people who are at higher risk of serious illness. This includes people who are age 65 years or older or have a health problem such as a chronic disease or a weak immune system.
    • Use a separate bathroom, if available.
    • Stay at least 6 feet away from others. When this is not possible, wear a cloth face cover (see Cloth face coverings section below).
  • Do not handle pets or other animals.
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others.
Getting help with food and other necessities
  • If you do not have someone to help you, you can arrange for food and other necessities to be left at your door. If you need help finding food or other necessities, call 2-1-1, the County Information Line or visit the website https://www.211la.org.
Notifying work or school

If your workplace or school needs to know that you are in home quarantine you will need to tell them. Public Health will not notify or release any personal information about you to your workplace or school unless it is necessary to do so to protect your health or the health of others.

Monitor your health and know what to do if you develop symptoms
  • It is important to monitor your health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 which may include the following: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea or new loss of taste or smell. This list of symptoms is not all inclusive.
  • If you develop any of these symptoms or any other symptoms that are concerning to you, consult your medical provider. Tell them that you are a contact to someone with COVID-19. To get a test for COVID-19, call your doctor or visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
  • It is particularly important that you let your doctor know if you are 65 years or older and/or have health problems such as a chronic disease or a weak immune system as you may be at higher risk of more serious illness.
  • Make a note of when your symptoms started and continue to monitor your health and call your doctor if your symptoms get worse.
  • If you develop fever, cough, shortness of breath, or your provider tells you that you are likely to have COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate - follow the guidance Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19). This means staying home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms first appeared AND at least 3 days (72 hours) after you have recovered. “Recovered” means that your fever has gone without the use of medications and your respiratory symptoms (such as cough and shortness of breath) have improved.
  • If you are having difficulty breathing, feel pain or pressure in your chest, have bluish lips or face or are experiencing a new onset of confusion or difficulty waking up, call 911 or go to an emergency room.
  • If you do have to go out for medical care:
    • Wear a surgical mask. If you don’t have one, wear a cloth face cover (see Cloth face coverings section below).
    • Use a private vehicle if possible. If you cannot drive yourself, be sure to keep as much distance as possible between you and the driver, wear a cloth face covering, if possible, and leave windows down. You should not use public transport.
Cloth face coverings

Infants and children under the age of 2 should not wear cloth face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 8 should use them but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation. A mask or cloth face cover should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without assistance. See Guidance for Cloth Facing Coverings for more information.

How to calculate when your quarantine period ends

You will need to stay in quarantine for 14 days from the date that you last had close contact with an infected person. See “Length of quarantine period” on page 1 for the definition of close contact and the examples below to learn how to calculate the last date in your quarantine period.

I. YOU HAVE NO FURTHER CONTACT WITH THE INFECTED PERSON
  1. Your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date when you last had close contact with them.
  2. Example:
    Your last close contact with the infected person: January 1
    +
    14 Days
    =
    Your last day in quarantine: January 15
II. YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE CONTACT WITH THE INFECTED PERSON
For example, you live with and/or care for the person with COVID-19
  1. If you can avoid close contact (see definition on page 1), your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date the infected person(s) in your household started to follow Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19.
  2. Example:
    Infected person(s) started to follow Home Isolation Instructions: January 5
    +
    14 Days
    =
    Your last day in quarantine: January 19
    If you have close contact (see definition on page 1) with that person at any point, the 14-day quarantine period will have to restart from the last day that you had close contact. Example:
    You started quarantine: January 5
    You had another close contact with infected person: January 8
    +
    14 Days
    =
    Your last day in quarantine: January 22
  3. If you cannot avoid close contact (see definition on page 1), your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date that the infected person was told that they are “cleared” to stop their isolation.
  4. Example:
    Infected person cleared to stop isolation: January 15
    +
    14 Days
    =
    Your last date in quarantine: January 29
III. YOU RECEIVED A QUARANTINE ORDER BUT DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU WERE EXPOSED
  1. Your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date of issue on the Order.
  2. Example:
    Issue date on the quarantine order: January 20
    +
    14 Days
    =
    Your last date in quarantine: February 3
Further information

Visit our website publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/ for more information and guidance. Please call your health care provider for any questions related to your health. If you need help finding a health care provider, call 2-1-1, the County information line.

Updated 5-1-20


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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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