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, 5 days after the last exposure. The onset can range from 2 to 14 days. 
  • Since it’s been less than 14 days, the exposed person still at risk for getting sick with COVID-19.
  • You need to watch for symptoms until 14 days have passed.
  • Stay at home 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 do 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 14 days after exposure to COVID-19.
  • Report any fevers to your family’s doctor.
  • Early detection of symptoms and quarantine are the only way to reduce spread of the disease.

COVID-19 Vaccine – When Eligible, Get Your COVID-19 Shot:

  • Vaccines have saved more lives than any other public health action. They are the most powerful weapon we have against deadly infectious diseases. Follow the science.
  • Safe and effective vaccines are now available for people age 12 and older.
  • When you are offered a COVID-19 vaccine, get one. It could save your life and protect your family.

COVID-19 Testing: Who Needs It

  • Testing is offered at many sites. Where to get it can be different for every city. Many doctor’s offices, retail clinics, and urgent care centers offer testing. Community drive-through sites or pharmacies may also be testing site options. At home self- tests can also be bought in some drugstores
  • 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 3 days of onset of symptoms.
    • Without Symptoms and no COVID vaccine with a COVID-19 close contact. Get a test on day 5-7 after exposure.
    • Without Symptoms and fully COVID-19 vaccinated with a COVID-19 close contact. Get a test on day 3-5 after exposure.
  • Repeat diagnostic tests: after a positive test, repeat tests are not recommended. Even after it is safe to stop isolation (usually 10 days), tests may stay positive for up to 90 days. A positive test does not mean the patient can spread the infection once the required isolation period is completed.
  • Antibody Tests: these are performed on blood. They can sometimes tell us if you have antibodies from a previous infection. They are not done until at least 2 to 3 weeks have passed from the start of the infection. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about this test.

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 quarantine period is usually 10 days if no testing is done. If you have a negative test, you may be able to end quarantine after 7 days. Call your doctor for specific instructions regarding teh timeframe for quarantine.
  • People who have not been Fully Vaccinated for COVID-19: the quarantine period is usually 10 days if no testing is done and you have no symptoms. If you have a negative test, you may be able to end quarantine after 7 days. Call your doctor for specific instructions regarding the timeframe for quarantine.
  • For now, the exposed person will need to stay at home:
    • 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. Even then there are exceptions, such as exposed health care workers or first responders who do not have any symptoms.
    • People who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19: a fully vaccinated person with no symptoms does not need to quarantine. You should be tested 3-5 days after close contact with an infected person. You should also wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until you get a negative test result.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Fever occurs.
  • Cough or trouble breathing occurs
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 occur

Author: Barton Schmitt, MD, FAAP
Copyright: Copyright 2021. Updated 9/10/2021.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.