Sick or Exposed to COVID-19

Symptoms and Risk


If you’re experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, you may feel like you need to get tested for COVID-19, or coronavirus, to ease your mind. 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 or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

In some instances, people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms or symptoms are so mild they don’t feel sick. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to stay home as much as possible, avoid gatherings of 10 or more, and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of the virus.

For most of us with mild symptoms, getting tested won’t change our treatment. Whether you have another flu-like virus or COVID-19, the vast majority of people do very well recovering at home and symptoms can be treated with over-the counter medicines. You can check your symptoms using the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker tool. Adults over age 65 and people of any age with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are at higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19.

It’s important EVERYONE take prevention steps to help stop the spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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When to Seek Medical Attention

If you feel like your symptoms are worsening, especially if you have difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider or seek medical attention.

In adults, emergency warning signs include*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

    * This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel. This will help them prepare for your arrival so that they can take steps to reduce symptom exposure to themselves and other patients.

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Sick or Being Tested for COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are being evaluated (i.e., waiting for test results) for COVID-19 infection by a health care provider and sent home to recover, you’ll be asked to stay home and monitor your symptoms to help prevent the disease from spreading to other people in your home and community.  Other people you live with and those you had close contact with during the time you became sick, also will be asked to take specific actions to monitor for symptoms of illness and prevent further spread to others.

  1. Avoiding Contact with Others
  2. Recovery & Monitoring Symptoms

Staying home and avoiding physical contact with others is an important prevention step you can take to protect others from being infected and spreading further into the community. It can also be difficult, at times, as it may leave you feeling isolated, or alone. Calling up friends and using mobile video chats can be great ways to stay connected even when physically apart.

Please follow these guidelines during your home isolation period.

  1. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should:

    Stay home and away from others for 10 days after your COVID-19 testing AND 72 hours (3 days) after your fever and symptoms of respiratory infection are gone, without using fever-reducing medications. Once these conditions are met, you can discontinue home isolation and resume your normal activities.

  2. If you have a fever and respiratory symptoms and have NOT tested positive for COVID-19, you should:

    Stay home and away from others until 72 hours after your fever (100.4° F or greater) and symptoms of respiratory infection are gone, without using fever-reducing medications. Once symptoms have been gone for 72 hours, you can resume normal activities. 

In addition:

  • Stay away from others. As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Do not go to work, school or any public areas. Have someone help you with essential tasks like grocery shopping. Public Health Medical Absence Form (En Español).
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.  See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
  • Wear a facemask when in the same room with other people and when you visit a healthcare provider. If you do not have a facemask, you can use a bandana or scarf to cover your mouth and nose as an alternative.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, and bedding.
  • Clean and disinfect: Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs.

Download: Home Isolation Guidelines (PDF)

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Exposure to Someone with COVID-19

  1. Household Contacts
  2. Close Contacts

Living with Someone with COVID-19 or with Respiratory Illness

If you live in the same home as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 OR someone who has symptoms of a new respiratory infection, such as cough or shortness of breath (not allergies or asthma), you should stay at home and away from others (quarantine) for 14-days after the last time you had close contact with the sick person in your household. Close contact is being within 6 feet of the person for 10 minutes or more.

Quarantining means staying home and away from other people as much as possible. If you, or another household member, have to leave to get essentials like groceries, stay 6 feet away from others and go right home when you get what you need. You will be asked to quarantine for 14-days because that is the maximum time period from the day a person is exposed to an infected person to when symptoms appear for COVID-19. If you do not have any symptoms after the 14-day period, you can continue with your daily activities such as going to work, school, or other public areas.

Please follow these guidelines for quarantine:

  • Separate yourself from the sick person (people) in the home. Have only people in the home who are essential to providing care for the person. Household members should stay in another room and be separated from the person as much as possible.
  • Stay at home for 14 days after separating yourself from the ill person, except to get essential medical care, prescriptions and food. Do not go to work, school or any public areas (e.g., shoppinquarantineg centers, movie theaters, stadiums).
  • Do not use public transportation, including rideshares and taxis. Do not go on long-distance travel.
  • Do not have visitors over.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor and re-schedule all non-essential medical appointments.
  • Wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid sharing household items like dishes, cups, eating utensils, and bedding.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

During the quarantine, watch for these signs and symptoms

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If you develop fever or any of the symptoms listed above

  • Stay home and away from others until 72 hours (3 days) after your fever (100.4° F or greater) and symptoms of respiratory infection, without the use of medicine that reduces fevers. 
  • If symptoms become severe, such as having difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.
  • If you need to see a healthcare provider, please call ahead to tell them you are a close contact of someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 OR who has a respiratory infection. For medical emergencies, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel. This will help the healthcare provider or first responders take steps to protect themselves from infection.
Adults 65 and over and people of any age who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes are at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. If symptoms worsen, especially if difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.


Download: Quarantine for Household Contacts Guidelines (PDF)

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Testing

Shortages have been experienced nationwide in testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to keep health care workers safe when interacting with potentially infected individuals. On April 23rd, the Arizona Department of Health Services adjusted its guidelines for COVID-19 testing so that anyone who believes they have been exposed to the virus can be tested, not just those at higher risk or with specific symptoms. Keep in mind, a shortage of personal protective equipment is still limiting the ability to test in some instances.

People who believe they should be tested for COVID-19 should work with their healthcare provider. You can call the Arizona COVID-19 hotline at 844-542-8201 for more information about testing options and availability in your area.

If you do not have a medical home or are uninsured, consider visiting a community health center. They will work with you to help you get access to a healthcare provider. Please call 602-253-0090 or look at the AACHC website for a health care center near you.

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Caring for Someone with COVID-19

Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild illness and recover at home with plenty of rest and lots of fluids. Care at home can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect people who are at risk for getting seriously ill from COVID-19. 

Adults over 65 and people of any age with certain serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes are at higher risk for developing severe disease from COVID-19 illness and should seek medical care as soon as symptoms start.

If you are caring for someone at home, monitor for emergency signs of worsening health, help prevent the spread of germs, provide symptom care, and understand time frames for when to end home isolation. Keep their healthcare provider’s contact information in a visible place for easy reference.

What should I look for when monitoring their symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms to watch for are body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, and nausea/vomiting. Call their healthcare provider if the person you’re caring for seems to be worse, especially if showing any of these emergency warning signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

For medical emergencies, call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that they have or are suspected to have COVID-19. This will help the first responders and hospital personnel take steps to protect themselves from infection.

How can I prevent the virus from spreading in the home to others?

Have the person stay in one room, away from other people, including yourself, as much as possible. If possible, have them use a separate bathroom. In addition:

  • Avoid sharing personal household items, like dishes, towels, and bedding
  • If facemasks are available, have them wear a facemask when they are around people, including you.
  • If the sick person can’t wear a facemask, you should wear one while in the same room with them, if facemasks are available.  If you do not have a facemask, you can use a bandana or scarf as an alternative.
  •  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after interacting with the sick person.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid having any unnecessary visitors.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals. You should restrict the sick person’s contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, sink handles, and doorknobs.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. If laundry is soiled, wear disposable gloves and keep the soiled items away from your body while laundering. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.

How can I help them treat their symptoms?

There is no specific medical treatment for COVID-19. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and people recover at home within a few days to a week. Make sure the sick person drinks a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and rests at home. Over-the-counter medicines may help with symptoms. Check with their healthcare provider if you have questions about the best course of care.

When can the infected person end home isolation?

People with COVID-19 can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

  • If the person tested positive for COVID-19, they should:

    Stay home and away from others for 10 days after your COVID-19 testing (Day 1 is the day you took the test) AND 72 hours (3 days) after your fever and symptoms of respiratory infection are gone, without using fever-reducing medications.   Once these conditions are met, they can discontinue home isolation and resume normal activities.  
  • If they have a fever and respiratory symptoms and have NOT tested positive for COVID-19, they should:

    Stay home and away from others until 72 hours after their fever (100.4° F or greater) and symptoms of respiratory infection (i.e., cough) are gone, without using fever-reducing medications. Once symptoms have been gone for 72 hours, they can resume normal activities. 

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