Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.
July 22, 2020
Isolation Guidance: What to do if you are sick with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have tested positive for COVID-19 infection, or if a healthcare provider or public health official has told you that COVID-19 infection is suspected because you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, you must follow the home isolation instructions below.
These steps will help prevent the disease from spreading to others in your household and community. You should also follow these instructions if you suspect that you have COVID-19, even if you do not have a known exposure.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 infection, you will need to report your close contacts to the Department of Public Health so that a representative can provide additional guidance and enroll your close contacts in symptom monitoring. You will be contacted by someone at DPH to collect this information. In the meantime, notify your close contacts of your illness and inform them they will also be contacted by the Department of Public Health.
More information for your close contacts can be found here: https://dph.georgia.gov/contact.
Stay home except to get medical care.
You must not go outside your home unless you need medical care or in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transportation, Uber/Lyft, or taxis. If seeking medical care, always call ahead to alert the healthcare provider that you have or may have COVID-19. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. As much as possible, you should stay in a different room from other people in your home. You should use a separate bathroom, if available. The CDC currently recommends keeping 6 feet between yourself and others, if possible. Prohibit visitors to your home as much as possible.
Wear a face mask!
You should wear a face mask (this can be a cloth mask) when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle), pets, and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a face mask if they enter your room.
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand-washing with soap is not possible, use alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to thoroughly cover all surfaces of your hands, then rub until they feel dry. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose with unwashed hands. If you cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth.
Avoid sharing household items.
You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water.
Clean “high-touch” surfaces frequently.
Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Monitor your symptoms.
If you develop worsening symptoms (i.e., difficulty breathing) you should seek prompt medical attention. Be sure to call your healthcare provider before seeking care and tell them that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Wear a face mask before entering the healthcare facility to
protect other patients and staff from being exposed.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911.
Notify emergency services that you have COVID-19 infection. Put on a face mask if possible before emergency services arrive.
Discontinuing home isolation
1. if you had symptoms and had mild or moderate illness* and are not severely immunocompromised:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and
- At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
and symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved.
2. Had severe to critical illness (if you were hospitalized for shortness of breath, pneumonia, low oxygen levels, respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ failure) * or are severely immunocompromised:
- At least 20 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
- At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
3. Discontinuing home isolation if you did NOT have symptoms and are NOT severely immunocompromised:
- At least 10 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and
- the person remains asymptomatic
4. Are severely immunocompromised:
- At least 20 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and
- the person remains asymptomatic
- Note, if you later develop symptoms, you should follow the guidance for symptomatic persons above.
Return to work:
• If you are Healthcare Personnel, please follow guidance from DPH here:
• If you do not work in a healthcare setting, please follow guidance from DPH here:
For ALL people
• When leaving the home, keep a distance of 6 feet from others and wear a cloth face covering when around other people.
Contact information for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH):
Individuals who have any of the various signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, muscle pain) without shortness of breath, dyspnea, or abnormal chest imaging.
Individuals who have evidence of lower respiratory disease by clinical assessment or imaging, and a saturation of oxygen (SpO2) ≥94% on room air at sea level.
Individuals who have respiratory frequency >30 breaths per minute, SpO2 <94% on room air at sea level (or, for patients with chronic hypoxemia, a decrease from baseline of >3%), ratio of arterial partial pressure of oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen (PaO2/FiO2) <300 mmHg, or lung infiltrates >50%.
Individuals who have respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction.