COVID-19 Exposure AND You Have NO Symptoms

Self Care Decisions / COVID-19 Exposure AND You Have NO Symptoms

Exposure and NO Symptoms – Overview

  • Although you may have been or were exposed to COVID-19, you do not currently have any symptoms of that infection. COVID-19 symptoms start, on the average, 3 to 4 days after the last exposure. The onset can range from 2 to 10 days. 
  • Since it’s been less than 10 days, the exposed person still at risk for getting sick with COVID-19.
  • You need to watch for symptoms until 10 days have passed.
  • Stay at home if you are not vaccinated or have not had a COVID-19 infection and follow this medical advice.

You Do Not Need to See Your Doctor

  • The exposed person does not have any symptoms. Exposed people don’t need to see a doctor.
  • You may need to get a COVID-19 test. See Testing section below.
  • If you become sick and develop more than mild symptoms, you may need to see your doctor

Measure Temperature

  • Measure the exposed person’s temperature 2 times each day.
  • Do this until 10 days after exposure to COVID-19.
  • If fever occurs, get a COVID-19 test.
  • Early detection of symptoms and quarantine are the best way to reduce spread of the disease.

Home Quarantine: How to do it

  • Quarantine means restricting people who were exposed to a contagious disease from contact with others who are well. They are monitored closely to see if they become sick (CDC). The CDC recommendations are different for up-to-date (fully vaccinated) versus not-up-to-date (unvaccinated or partially vaccinated) people.
  • Up-to-date Fully Vaccinated people are defined as having received the primary vaccine series and a booster shot if eligible.
  • The CDC Definition of Not-Up-to-date people is:
    • not vaccinated at all OR
    • completed Pfizer or Moderna primary series over 5 months ago but not yet boosted OR
    • completed J&J primary series over 2 months ago but not yet boosted
  • People Not Up-to-date Vaccinated for COVID-19: need to home quarantine.
    • Stay home for 5 days on quarantine.
    • After that, wear a mask around others for another 5 days.
    • Get tested on day 5 after close contact with an infected person. If positive, see other Care Guide (Diagnosed)
    • If you have questions regarding the timeframe for quarantine, call your doctor during office hours
  • Home quarantine means:
    • Do Not allow any visitors (such as friends).
    • Do Not go to school or work.
    • Do Not go to stores, restaurants, places of worship or other public places.
    • Avoid public transportation or ride sharing.
    • Other family members are not on quarantine unless the exposed person becomes sick. 
  • People Up-to-date and Fully Vaccinated for COVID-19: do not need to quarantine.
    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days. 
    • Get tested on day 3 to 5 after close contact with an infected person. If positive, see other care guide (Diagnosed).

COVID-19 Testing: Who Needs It

  • Testing is the only way to know for sure who has COVID-19. Can’t tell by symptoms. Reason: most respiratory viruses cause similar symptoms.
  • It is easiest to test at home using a COVID-19 test kit (rapid antigen) . Free kits can be ordered to have on hand using this link: These kits are also available at most pharmacies. Testing is offered at many sites without a doctor’s order. Many doctor’s offices, retail clinics, and urgent care centers offer testing. Community drive-through sites or pharmacies may also be testing site options.
  • For questions about testing, call your doctor during office hours.
  • Diagnostic tests: these are performed on nasal or mouth secretions. The tests can tell us if you have a COVID-19 infection now. Timing is important on when to do this test:
    • With Symptoms. Get a test within 1 to 2 days of onset of symptoms. If you test negative and continue to have cold-like symptoms, re-test on day 3.
    • Without Symptoms and a COVID-19 close contact. Get a test on day 3 to 5 after exposure.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Severe cough or trouble breathing occurs

Author: Barton Schmitt, MD, FAAP
Copyright: Copyright 2022. Updated 6/21/2022.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.