Sick with COVID? What To Do
You’re not alone. Most people recover from their initial infection. These recommendations will give you the best chance to recover and prevent others from being infected.
- If you received a positive result from either a PCR test or an at-home antigen test, you can trust the results. Even a faint line on an antigen test is reliable.
- Begin isolating as quickly as possible and limit contact with others. This will help prevent the virus from spreading to others.
- If you isolate at home with others, use a separate room. Create green, yellow and red zones in your home (see Self Isolation).
- Avoid sharing air with others by opening windows, or clean air using HEPA air purifier(s), keep doors closed, block air flow under doors, and insist that everyone wear high-quality masks when going into the “yellow” or “red” zones.
- While you are in a room by yourself, don’t wear a mask. Breathe fresh air or HEPA filtered air.
- Take care of yourself by consuming plenty of fluids, a healthy balanced diet, and get plenty of rest.
- Order groceries via delivery or contactless pickup.
- Remain in isolation for 14 days, or longer if you continue to experience symptoms or continue to test positive (see Isolation).
- Contact everyone you have come in close contact with in the past week or more. Do this remotely via email, text, video, phone, etc. Inform them that you have tested positive so they too can get tested.
- Contact your local or state health authority and let them know about your positive status. This is so you can be officially counted but also so you can be connected to resources and help.
- Check for mutual aid groups in your community and hotlines that can help you with necessities or specific help. Write down contact information for SARS2 hotlines. Check with your healthcare provider or state or local government website for information about medical assistance call centers, on-call medical personnel, and patient resources. Have these numbers handy if you experience a change in symptoms or need to consult with a healthcare provider.
- If you are at high-risk for severe illness, there may be therapeutics available that can help you. It is critical that you start to take them within five days of symptom onset.
- United States: “Test to Treat” program: 2
- Monitor your symptoms. Those include temperature, heart rate, oxygen (if you can, order an oximeter online), energy levels, GI symptoms, and other signs of malaise. Record any changes in symptoms. Follow best practices for optimizing respiratory health.
- IMPORTANT: Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen (fever consistently >101F or 38C, difficulty breathing, chest pain, swelling or bruising of extremities, new or worsening cough, blue lips, extreme fatigue, worsening confusion, or any severe or unusual symptoms).
Test to Exit
- Before exiting isolation, take at-home antigen tests. Tests have false negatives, so exit after two negative tests on successive days (see Isolation).
- After you have recovered, remember that there’s still an increased risk for adverse outcomes like heart attacks and strokes, and that reinfections are likely if you are exposed, even within weeks after recovery. Learn about Long COVID symptoms and seek care.
Where it is possible to keep windows open, consider maximizing outside air intake into green zone and outflow from red zone with window fans, but avoid creating conditions where airflow might reverse direction from green zone into red zone.
Last medically reviewed on February 18, 2023