Here’s why it’s crucial to quarantine for 14 days after COVID-19 exposure


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DENVER (KDVR) — As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the country, many are still confused by what happens after you’re exposed to someone with the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention says the incubation timeline for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. That means once someone has been exposed, they can test positive any time during that 14 day incubation period.

The CDC released a graphic explain what that means:

  • Day 0: Kate was exposed to COVID-19
  • Day 5: Kate got tested for COVID-19 and her results came back negative
  • Day 8: Thinking she didn’t have COVID-19, Kate went to work and a family gathering. She was contagious days 8 and 9, which is 48 hours before she showed symptoms. She exposed 22 people between work and the family gathering.
  • Day 10: Kate became symptomatic and tested positive.

The CDC has recommended canceling Thanksgiving travel and gatherings due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Courtesy: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Here are the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19?
  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
What is close contact?
  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
What should I do during quarantine?
  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19
When do I start or end my quarantine if I’ve been exposed?
  • You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
What are COVID-19 symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19, according to the CDC:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as more is learned about COVID-19.

Where can I get tested?
  • Find a community testing site
  • Call your primary care physician

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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