I've Been Exposed to COVID-19. What Should I Do?
Maybe you were at a small backyard gathering with friends, or a family birthday party, and a few days later, you get some unwelcomed news: One of the people at the gathering has tested positive for COVID-19. What should you do?
The importance of self-quarantine
Regardless of how you’re feeling, if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s extremely important to self-quarantine to protect others. Even if you feel perfectly healthy, this is the most important thing you can do right now for the protection of your friends, family and community.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. If you were within close contact of an infected person, you should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the time you were around that person.
Should I get tested?
If you do not have any symptoms and you are not aware of being exposed to an infected person, you do not need to be tested. If you have been exposed without wearing a mask to a known positive COVID-19 person for longer than 15 minutes and were less than 6 feet away, then we recommend you get tested if you develop symptoms and quarantine for 14 days. Always wear a mask to protect others, especially if you are unable to quarantine.
Note that the virus has an incubation period of three to 14 days, with most showing symptoms around day five. Even if you receive a negative test result after day five, it does not mean you are in the clear. You could test negative one day and positive the next day. If you are unsure about if or when you should be tested, conduct a virtual visit for guidance.
Ochsner community COVID-19 testing sites are available at no out-of-pocket expense. No one will be turned away based on insurance status. The community testing sites will test you regardless of whether you have symptoms, but note that daily testing capacity is limited, so plan on arriving early.
Due to unprecedented demand, some laboratories are experiencing delays. Most patients can expect to receive results in 72 hours, but we appreciate your patience as we work to expand our testing capacity in the coming weeks.
Ochsner Health has released testing guidance for community members who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or those wishing to know their COVID-19 status.
What can I do to stay safe?
Wear a mask if you are in public, adhere to social distancing measures and practice good hand hygiene. The choices you make impact our entire community, so please do your part to keep everyone safe.
If you need medical care, please contact your primary care physician, visit an urgent care or conduct a virtual visit to receive assessment and treatment. If testing is recommended, your virtual care team can share information on where you can be tested in your area.
Learn more about Ochsner community testing sites for COVID-19.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.