Guidance for People Who Test Positive for COVID-19 or Have Been Exposed

Isolation is for people who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 whether or not they have symptoms. 

If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, take precautions to prevent spreading the virus.

Click the boxes below to learn what to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19, or are ending isolation.

If you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, take precautions regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection.

  • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days;
  • Wear a high-quality mask for 10 days; and
  • Get tested 5 days after exposure.

You no longer need to quarantine if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, unless you’re hospitalized or a resident of a congregate care setting.*

If someone you live with has COVID-19, avoid being around them as much as possible and wear a mask if you must be around them.

You can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, isolate at home, call your healthcare provider, and get tested.

Learn more about what to do if you’re exposed to COVID-19.

Learn more about how COVID-19 spreads and the factors that can increase or decrease your risk for getting sick.

Guidance for specific settings

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

  • Use the COVID-19 Isolation Calculator to find out when you can end isolation. 
  • Stay home (isolate) for at least 5 full 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 full days since you started having symptoms. 
    • If you do not have symptoms, stay home for at least 5 full 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. 
    • Learn about treatment for COVID-19. Treatment is most important if you are at high risk of becoming very sick from COVID-19. The earlier you start treatment, the more effective it is.
    • If you have a weakened immune system, also known as being “immunocompromised,” you may need to isolate for 10 full days. Consult a 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 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 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’s test result 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.

Review more detailed guidance on isolation for different populations, and related guidance from the CDC.

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.

After you have ended isolation at home:

  • wear your mask through day 10, OR
  • If you have access to self-tests, consider using them. If you get two negative test results 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10. 
    • If your self-test results are positive, you may still be infectious. You should continue wearing a mask and wait at least 48 hours before taking another test. Continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you have two sequential negative results. This may mean you need to continue wearing a mask and testing beyond day 10.

Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.People with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised*) may need to isolate for longer than 10 full days. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are immunocompromised.

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

Review more detailed guidance on isolation for different populations, and related guidance from the CDC.