If you or someone you know tests positive for COVID-19, it's important that you know the steps to follow to protect yourself and those around you, and to reduce the spread of the virus in your community.
The New York State Department of Health is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) case investigation and contact tracing guidance, which focuses on providing information to those who tested positive most recently and those who may have close contacts in sensitive settings.
New York State has also given local health departments the ability to suspend contact tracing. This means if you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you may not get a call from a county or state COVID-19 case investigator.
- Learn what you should do if you test positive for COVID-19;
- Learn what you should do if you are exposed to COVID-19;
- Learn more about isolation and quarantine and your responsibilities;
- Access the ready-made resources.
You also can complete your affirmation of isolation and/or quarantine that your employer may require.
Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation is for individuals who have been infected with COVID-19, even if they don't have symptoms. You isolate in order to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Quarantine is for someone who has been exposed to the Covid-19 virus through close contact with someone who is infected, but has not tested positive for COVID-19 and does not have symptoms. Quarantine is important because even before a person has tested positive for COVID-19 or has any symptoms, they can spread the virus without knowing.
What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19, or Were Exposed to Someone Who Has COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, these instructions will guide you through the steps you should take, depending on your situation.
- If you self-test at home, do so in a separate room from others.
- If you test elsewhere, go home and self-isolate within your home. Take these three key actions while waiting for your result. Note that you may not receive a call from a public health worker.
- Follow these instructions from the CDC.
- If you test positive, follow the steps described below.
(2) If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, regardless of your vaccination status, follow these steps:
- Isolate for at least 5 complete days, with Day 0 being the date your symptoms started or you were tested for COVID-19. Follow these important steps to keep yourself and those around you safe:
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don't share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a well-fitting mask when you need to be around other people.
- Day 1 of isolation begins the day after you became symptomatic OR the day after your specimen was collected, if you do/did not have symptoms.
- Isolation ends after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).
- If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever has resolved for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- If you had COVID-19 and had symptoms and were you were hospitalized, follow the instructions of your healthcare provider.
- After leaving your isolation, you must continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. Wearing a well-fitting mask following isolation will decrease the small risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to others. Respirators (e.g., N95 masks) are a useful option for personal protective equipment to protect people from exposures in specific settings.
- If needed for work or school, obtain an AFFIRMATION OF ISOLATION. This form may be used as if it were an individual Order for Isolation issued by the New York State Health Commissioner. Your local health department or New York State Department of Health may contact you for additional information. This Attestation Form will contain your Isolation start and end date, as you indicate, based on your particular circumstances, in accordance with Guidance from the New York State Department of Health.
- Notify your close contacts of their exposure as soon as possible. Your close contacts should follow the steps below (#3 or #4) and may need to self-quarantine (follow steps below).
- If you performed a self-test at home, you do not need to report your positive result to your local health department. Results from tests performed at a pharmacy or laboratory are automatically reported to your local health department. At home COVID-19 test results need not be reported.
(3) If you came into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you DO NOT need to quarantine.
- You are ages 12 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters when eligible and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
- You are ages 5-11 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
- You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (you tested positive using a viral test).
(4) If you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, you should quarantine if you are in one of the following groups:
- You are ages 12 or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible. THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO ATTENDING SCHOOL. Fully vaccinated individuals (teachers, students, and staff) ages 12 and older who were exposed may attend school.
- You received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
- You are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.
Steps to follow:
- Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0).
- Get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19. If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, isolate from other people and follow recommendations in the Isolation section below.
- If you develop symptoms, follow the instructions above in the section "If you are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps and get tested for COVID-19".
- If needed for work or school, obtain an AFFIRMATION OF QUARANTINE, which may be used as if it was an individual Quarantine Order issued by the ___ County Commissioner of Public Health. ______ County Public Health Services may contact you for additional information, if needed. This Attestation Form will contain your Quarantine start and end date, as you indicate, and in accordance with Guidance from the New York State Department of Health.
If you develop symptoms, follow the instructions above in the section "If you are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps and get tested for COVID-19."
Schools (K-12) and Quarantine
NYSDOH recommends that exposed, fully vaccinated individuals who are quarantined may attend or work at school after an exposure. They may also attend or work at school-based extracurricular activities that do not involve participants from other schools, and they may attend or work at certain eligible childcare programs for school-age children, such as early drop off programs and aftercare. However, these individuals should continue to quarantine as otherwise required outside of school and these school-related activities. If these individuals attend or work at a school with a test-to-stay program they should participate in that program. If the school does not have a test-to-stay program then it is strongly encouraged that these individuals test at days 2-3 (or the first school day after the exposure is identified) and day 5.
Isolation and Quarantine Affirmation Forms
January 12, 2022 - This form may be used as if it were an individual Order for Isolation issued by the New York State Health Commissioner. Your local health department or New York State Department of Health may contact you for additional information. This Attestation Form will contain your Isolation start and end date, as you indicate, based on your particular circumstances, in accordance with Guidance from the New York State Department of Health
January 12, 2022 - This form may be used as if it was an individual Quarantine Order issued by a County Commissioner of Public Health. This Attestation Form will contain your Quarantine start and end date, as you indicate, and in accordance with Guidance from the New York State Department of Health.
Guidance & FAQs
March 1, 2022 - This document removes the statewide requirement for universal masking in schools, and applies to P-12 elementary and secondary public, charter, private and state-operated schools, including residential schools and programs serving students with disabilities, as regulated by the New York State Education Department.
January 14, 2022