When should I isolate or quarantine for COVID-19?

Isolation and quarantine separate people who have or may have COVID-19 or another contagious disease from people who are not sick.

  • Quarantine is for people who are not sick, but have been exposed.
    • If you got a COVID-19 booster dose or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 5 months, OR completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last 2 months, you do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day 5, if possible. If you develop symptoms, stay home and get a test.
    • If you have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 5 months ago and are not boosted, OR completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine over 2 months ago and are not boosted or are not fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for at least 5 days. You should get a test on day 5 and continue to wear a mask for 5 additional days. If you develop symptoms, stay home and get a test.

 Learn more about the difference between quarantine and isolation.

Positive for COVID-19? English | Spanish | Portuguese

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should follow these steps:

  • Stay home (isolate) for at least 5 days. Someone with COVID-19 should isolate even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Only leave isolation for medical emergencies.
    • If you have symptoms, stay home for at least 5 days since you started having symptoms. 
    • If you do not have symptoms, stay home for at least 5 days following the day you were tested. 
    • Have things you need delivered. Ask friends and family to drop off items that you need at your door, like food and other necessities. 
    • Do not go to work or school for at least 5 days. Call your employer or school to inform them that you have tested positive and will be out for at least 5 days. 
    • Call your primary care provider if you have one to let them know you have tested positive. 
    • If you have a weakened immune system, also known as being “immunocompromised,” you may need to isolate for 20 days. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think this applies to you
  • Do your best to keep a distance from those you live with.
    • If you can, use a separate bathroom and bedroom. Stay out of the kitchen and other rooms where people in your home gather. Don’t share personal household items like cups, towels, and keyboards.
    • If you must be in the same room as others, wear a mask.
  • Get help if you feel sick. Call your primary care provider or a healthcare provider to get medical advice.
    • Tell them you have COVID-19.
    • Call 911 or get yourself to the nearest hospital if you think you are having a medical emergency. This can include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, the inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
  • Write a list of the people you have been in close contact with, within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, during the 2 days before you got tested or started having COVID-19 symptoms until the time you started isolating at home. These are people who might get COVID-19 from being around you.
    • Consider any contacts you spend time with, visit, volunteer with, ride in a car with, or attend a place of worship with.
    • Let your close contacts know you have COVID-19.
  • If your positive test result was reported to RIDOH, you can notify your close contacts anonymously through the COVID-19 survey. Go to portal.ri.gov/results, enter your information to view your positive test result, and fill out the COVID-19 survey that is linked there. You can also request support while in isolation and learn about treatment options by filling out the survey.
    • All positive test results in the State system should be reported to RIDOH. Positive results are reported by primary care providers, pharmacies, institutions that perform on-site testing (like colleges or nursing homes), labs, and respiratory clinics. If reported to RIDOH, the results will be accessible through the State results portal. 
  • If you have symptoms or test positive after you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, you still should isolate at home for at least 5 days Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you can end isolation after you have stayed home for 5 days and after these 3 things have happened:

  • You have no symptoms, or your symptoms have improved and;
  • You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and;
  • You did not have severe illness

If you tested positive but never had symptoms, you should isolate for 5 days from the date that you were tested.

People with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised*) may need to isolate for 20 days. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are immunocompromised.

*Review more detailed guidance on quarantine and isolation for different populations.

Except for rare situations, after testing positive, you do not need to get another test for COVID-19 to end isolation.

If you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, or you’ve had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you do not need to quarantine if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Being up to date means you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster doses if you are eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends booster doses for people age 12 or older.

You are up to date:

  • If you have received a booster OR
  • If you have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the last 5 months OR
  • If you have completed the primary series of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the last 2 months.

If you are NOT up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, you should quarantine if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

In this case:

  • You should quarantine for at least 5 days from your last known exposure.
  • You should get tested on day 5 after exposure or if symptoms develop during quarantine.
  • If you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after exposure, you may end quarantine but should continue to wear a mask for 5 additional days.
  • You should call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
  • If you’re hospitalized or a resident of a congregate care setting, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility, you should quarantine for 14 days.

Close contacts who are up to date on their vaccination should get a COVID-19 test on day 5 after their last exposure and should wear a mask around others for 10 days. Vaccinated hospitalized people and residents of congregate care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, should still quarantine for 14 days. Separate guidance for the PreK-12 sector can be found here.

Watch for symptoms for 10 days after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, isolate at home, you should call your healthcare provider, and get tested.

RIDOH recommends that travelers follow quarantine and testing guidance from the CDC. Learn more at covid.ri.gov/travel.

  • If you’re not up to date on your vaccines and someone you live with tests positive, you should stay home and quarantine too. This is because you have been in close contact with them while they have had COVID-19. You could get COVID-19 and spread it to others.
  • While the person who tested positive stays home, if you cannot avoid close contact with them and keep a physical distance of 6 feet at all times, you should stay at home for at least 5 days. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 5 days.
    • You may end quarantine after 5 days but should continue to wear a mask and watch for COVID-19 symptoms for 5 additional days after quarantine. You should test on day 5 if possible. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
  • While the person who tested positive stays home, if you can, avoid additional contact with them and completely separate from them while they stay in a separate bedroom at all times.
    • You should get tested on day 5 after exposure or if symptoms develop during quarantine.
    • You may end quarantine 5 days after your last close contact with the infected person. Continue to avoid close contact with them until they complete isolation. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 5 days. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
    • If the person who tested positive is able to stay in their own room, people in the house should bring them their food and check on them from a distance.
  • Call the employers and schools of everyone living in your household to let them know people will not be at work or school.
  • Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
    • Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or look online for a testing site
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test positive, continue to stay at home and follow the instructions above for what you should do if you test positive. 
      • If you have symptoms within 10 days of close contact to a person with COVID-19 get a COVID-19 test. 
      • Call a health care provider if your symptoms worsen or do not improve in 2 to 3 days.
  • If your positive test result was reported to RIDOH, you can notify your close contacts anonymously through the COVID-19 survey. Go to portal.ri.gov/results, enter your information to view your positive test result, and fill out the COVID-19 survey that is linked there. You can also request support while in isolation and learn about treatment options by filling out the survey.
    • All positive test results in the State system should be reported to RIDOH. Positive results are reported by primary care providers, pharmacies, institutions that perform on-site testing (like colleges or nursing homes), labs, and respiratory clinics. If reported to RIDOH, the results will be accessible through the State results portal. 
    • Self-test results can be reported to RIDOH but are not available through portal.ri.gov/results. People who get a positive self-test result are not able to access the COVID-19 survey. For more information about testing yourself for COVID-19, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.

If you've tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and completed your isolation period, you are not considered a close contact and do not need to quarantine if you are near someone with COVID-19 within that 90-day period. The 90-day period starts on the day of symptom onset or the day of your positive test if you were asymptomatic (Day 0). Continue to monitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms appear.

Generally, a close contact is someone you have been within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or more starting 2 days before they got tested or started having symptoms of COVID-19. Someone that you briefly interacted with from a distance of more than 6 feet is not a close contact.

  • If you’re not up to date on your vaccines, you should stay home (quarantine) for 5 days from the day they were last with you.
    • You should get tested on day 5 after exposure or if symptoms develop during quarantine.
    • You may end quarantine after 5 days but should continue to wear a mask and watch for COVID-19 symptoms for 5 additional days after quarantine. You should test on day 5 if possible. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
  • Call your employer or school to let them know you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and are staying at home awaiting a call from RIDOH. 
    • RIDOH can provide an absence note from work or school for people in quarantine.
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present
    • Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or look online for a testing site. 
    • If you get tested during your quarantine and test positive, you should continue to stay at home and follow the instructions above for what you need to do if you test positive.
    • If you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after the day you were last with your close contact:
      • You may end your quarantine after 5 days. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 5 days. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online
      • If you have symptoms within 10 days of close contact to a person with COVID-19, get a COVID-19 test. 
      • Call a healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or do not improve in 2 to 3 days.
  • For help with food delivery, supplies, housing assistance, benefits, or other assistance, call 2-1-1 or 401-222-8022.
  • As much as possible, people should stay physically distanced and masked.
  • Anyone who is not up to date on their vaccination and was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for more than 15 minutes while the person was infectious should stay home from all activities, including work, and follow the directions above under What you need to do if a close contact you don’t live with tests positive.
    • A person with COVID-19 who has symptoms is infectious starting 2 days before the symptoms started. A person with COVID-19 who does not have symptoms is infectious starting 2 days before the day they were tested.
    • Vaccinated close contacts should get a COVID-19 test 5 days after their last exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for an additional 5 days.
  • As you communicate with people in your group who were in close contact with a COVID-19 infected person in the group, you can use the following language from RIDOH:
    • A person in our group has tested positive for COVID-19. You have probably been in close contact with the infected person. RIDOH recommends that close contacts who are not up to date on their vaccination stay home and follow the recommendations at covid.ri.gov/whattodo. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • If your positive test result was reported to RIDOH, you can notify your close contacts anonymously through the COVID-19 survey. Go to portal.ri.gov/results, enter your information to view your positive test result, and fill out the COVID-19 survey that is linked there. You can also request support while in isolation and learn about treatment options by filling out the survey.
    • All positive test results in the State system should be reported to RIDOH. Positive results are reported by primary care providers, pharmacies, institutions that perform on-site testing (like colleges or nursing homes), labs, and respiratory clinics. If reported to RIDOH, the results will be accessible through the State results portal. 
    • Self-test results can be reported to RIDOH but are not available through portal.ri.gov/results. People who get a positive self-test result are not able to access the COVID-19 survey. For more information about testing yourself for COVID-19, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.
  • For help with food delivery, supplies, housing assistance, benefits, or other assistance, call 2-1-1 or 401-222-8022.
  • If you get a call from a RIDOH Case Investigator, you can tell them your household needs support and a member of the RIDOH or United Way team will reach out to assist you.