When do I need to 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.

 Learn more about the difference between quarantine and isolation.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, whether or not you’re vaccinated, isolate at home and call your healthcare provider. Get a COVID-19 test.

If you test positive for COVID-19, RIDOH will call you within a few days. If you learn that you are positive for COVID-19 before RIDOH calls you, you should take action right away. Do not wait for RIDOH to call you to start making changes in your life and your daily routine.

  • Stay home (isolate) for at least 10 days. Someone with COVID-19 needs to 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 10 days since you started having symptoms.
    • If you do not have symptoms, stay home for at least 10 days from 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 10 days. Call your employer or school to inform them that you have tested positive and will be out for at least 10 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.
  • Answer the phone when RIDOH calls. Answering questions about why you were tested, your symptoms, and who you have been in close contact with will help RIDOH slow the spread of COVID-19.
    • RIDOH can also help you get some things you may need while you need to stay home.
    • You can sign up for a text message monitoring program. Through this program, you can send texts to RIDOH if you need things while at home, such as food and other supports.
    • For more general questions, write to [email protected].
  • If you have symptoms or test positive after you’ve gotten any COVID-19 vaccine, you still need to isolate at home for at least 10 days. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
  • You have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Your other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (a loss of taste or smell may take longer to improve so should not delay the end of isolation)

If you tested positive but never had symptoms, you must isolate for 10 days from the date that you were tested.

People with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised*) may need to isolate for more than 10 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’re not fully vaccinated, quarantine if you've been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact means you’ve been within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period.

  • Quarantine for 10 days from your last known exposure.
  • Get tested immediately and, if your result is negative, get tested again 5 to 7 days 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 shorten your quarantine to 7 days. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 7 days.
  • If you’re a close contact of someone who tested positive, you cannot use an at-home test to shorten quarantine. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
  • If you’re a resident of a congregate care setting, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility, you must quarantine for 14 days.    

Once you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine after close contact if: 

  • You’ve gotten a final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that is authorized by either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or WHO (World Health Organization), at least 14 days before your last exposure and
  • You haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated must get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after their last exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they get a negative test result. Vaccinated residents of congregate care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, must still quarantine for 14 days.

Whether or not you're vaccinated, watch for symptoms for 14 days after close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, isolate at home, call your healthcare provider, and get tested.

RIDOH recommends that travelers follow quarantine and testing guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn more at covid.ri.gov/travel.

  • If you’re not fully vaccinated and someone you live with tests positive, you need to stay home 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 must stay at home (quarantine) for the time that they are infected (10 days) plus an additional 10 days. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 4 days.
    • This is because symptoms can develop up to 14 days after the last day of being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
    • You may shorten the additional 10 days to 7 days if you have a negative result from a test taken 5 days or more after the person you live with ended home isolation. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 7 days. You cannot use an at-home test to shorten quarantine. 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 and use a separate bathroom from others in the home, you must stay at home (quarantine) for 10 days from when they began home isolation.
    • Get tested immediately and, if your result is negative, get tested again 5 to 7 days after exposure or if symptoms develop during quarantine.
    • You may shorten your quarantine to 7 days if you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after your last close contact with the infected person and if you continue to avoid close contact with them until they complete isolation. Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 3 days. You cannot use an at-home test to shorten quarantine. 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. The length of quarantine ranges from 7 to 10 days if you’re able to stay separate from the person who has COVID-19 to 17 to 20 days if you’re not able to separate from the sick person. RIDOH will give the person who tested positive the exact dates of quarantine for household members when they call.
    • Watch for all the symptoms of COVID-19 in everyone living with you.
    • Do a temperature check twice a day (fever is greater than 100.4 degrees F).
  • Get tested if any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
  • Answer the phone when RIDOH calls. RIDOH will call close contacts to provide information about quarantining. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19. RIDOH can also help get some things for people who need to stay home.
  • 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.

Once you're fully vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine if: 

  • You’ve gotten a final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that is authorized by either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), at least 14 days before your last exposure and
  • You haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated must get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after their last exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they get a negative test result. Vaccinated residents of congregate care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, must still quarantine for 14 days.

Always watch for symptoms for a full 14 days. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate at home and get tested.

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 fully vaccinated, stay home (quarantine) for 10 days from the day they were last with you.
    • Get tested immediately and, if your results are negative, get tested again 5 to 7 days after exposure or if symptoms develop during quarantine.
    • You may shorten your quarantine to 7 days if you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after the day they were last with you. Whether you quarantine for 7 or 10 days, monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days. You cannot use an at-home test to shorten quarantine. 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, 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 shorten your quarantine to 7 days and continue to monitor yourself for symptoms for an additional 7 days. You cannot use an at-home test to shorten quarantine. Call your healthcare provider for help getting tested or find a testing site online.
      • If you have symptoms within 14 days of close contact to a person with COVID-19, get a COVID-19 test. Even if your test is negative, stay home and isolate from others until you complete quarantine, are fever free for 24 hours, and your symptoms are improved.
      • Call a healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or do not improve in 2 to 3 days. 
  • Answer the phone when RIDOH calls. RIDOH may call close contacts to provide information about quarantining. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19. RIDOH can also help get some things for people who need to stay home.
  • 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.

Once you're fully vaccinated, you don't need to quarantine if: 

  • You’ve gotten a final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, that is authorized by either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), at least 14 days before your last exposure and
  • You haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19 since your last exposure.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated must get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after their last exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they get a negative test result. Vaccinated residents of congregate care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, must still quarantine for 14 days.

Always watch for symptoms for a full 14 days. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate at home and get tested.  

  • As much as possible, people should stay 3 feet apart and masked.
  • Anyone who is not fully vaccinated 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 must get a COVID-19 test between 3 and 5 days after their last exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they get a negative test result.
  • 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 requires that close contacts who are not fully vaccinated stay home and follow the recommendations at covid.ri.gov/whattodo. Following quarantine instructions from RIDOH can slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • For help with food delivery, supplies, housing assistance, benefits, or other assistance, call 2-1-1 Option 6.

  • 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.

  • If you live in Central Fall or Pawtucket and need assistance for your household, you can call the BeatCOVID Hotline, 1-855-843-7620.