Whether you’re waiting to be tested for COVID-19, you’re waiting for your test results or you’ve tested positive, separating yourself from others is the key to protecting everyone around you.
If you're already sick and may be infected, staying home is meant to keep you apart from anyone who isn't infected. This applies whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have symptoms but haven’t been tested yet.
To help protect your health, and the health of everyone around you, you should stay home when:
- You are sick but haven’t been tested
- Are awaiting your test results
- Have tested positive for COVID-19
First, do I need to get tested for COVID-19?
Most people won’t need to be tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
This is because, outside of health-related risk factors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined guidelines for health providers (including Geisinger) to prioritize COVID-19 testing for:
- Those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever (38° C or 100.4° F or higher), a new cough or shortness of breath
- Those have been in close contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 or who has had a laboratory-confirmed positive test
Staying home: How to do it right
The only time you should leave your home if you aren’t feeling well is to seek medical care. The best thing you can do if you’re sick — with a bad cold, the flu or COVID-19 — is to stay home and away from others.
Here’s how to do that:
- Quarantine yourself at home. Stay in a single room away from others. Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
- Don’t share personal household items. Use your own set of dishes, utensils, towels, bedding and other household items. Wash them thoroughly after use.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces in your home daily, including counters, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, phones, keyboards and tablets.
- Clean your hands thoroughly and frequently. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues into a lined trash can, then wash your hands right away.
- Tell anyone else that you’ve been in contact with that you may have contracted COVID-19. They should follow the recommendations above and monitor their health for any signs of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath).
Monitor your symptoms
For most people, symptoms will lessen over time with self-care. However, you should head to the nearest hospital ER if your symptoms are severe, worsen or if you have difficulty breathing.
Emergency symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Bluish lips or skin
- Sudden confusion or inability to awaken
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately