You’ve had a close contact or positive test

Lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 in case you have it. If you test positive or feel sick, stop the spread.

What to do

Close contact

If you’ve had close contact, or potential exposure, with someone who has tested positive or is sick with COVID-19, you may have the virus. You can lower the risk of spread by staying away from others, especially those at high risk of getting very sick. Follow these steps for testing and mask wearing.

Not feeling sick but tested positive

If you don’t develop symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19, stay home and away from others for 5 days, starting from when you first tested positive.

Test again on day 5 or later, preferably with a  rapid antigen test. If your test is:

  • Negative, you can leave home
  • Positive, stay home until you test negative or until 10 days have passed since you first tested positive, whichever comes first

After 10 days, you do not need to repeat another test.

You should wear a well-fitting mask any time you have to be around others for 10 days, starting from when you first tested positive.

If you do not get tested again, stay home and away from others for 10 days from when you first tested positive.

Feeling sick and tested positive

If you have symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, stay home and away from others for 5 days, starting from when you first felt symptoms.

After 5 days, you can leave home only if:

  • You have no fever
  • Your symptoms are getting better
  • You test negative for COVID-19 on day 5 or later, preferably with a rapid antigen test.

Otherwise, you can leave by day 10 as long as you have no fever and your symptoms are getting better. You do not have to take a test again after day 10.

You should wear a well-fitting mask any time you have to be around others for 10 days, starting from when you first felt symptoms.

Sometimes your symptoms can get worse after they have improved. If this happens, you should stay away from others for another 5 days.

Taking COVID-19 medicine does not change the time you should stay home and away from others.

Feeling sick but haven’t tested yet

If you have symptoms but haven’t yet tested for COVID-19, you should stay home and away from others until you get tested. Test as soon as possible.

You should wear a well-fitting mask any time you are around others.

If you use a rapid antigen test within the first 1 or 2 days of feeling sick and it’s negative, you should:

  • Continue to stay away from others
  • Test again 1 or 2 days later

If the 2nd test is also negative but you’re still feeling sick, consider staying home until you feel better.

If you test positive at any time while feeling sick, you should stay home and away from others until you test negative.

Unable to test

If you’re unable to test or choose not to test, stay away from others for 10 days from when you first started feeling sick.

Get treated for Covid

You may be eligible for Covid medicines if you are at high risk of severe illness. Find out how to get early treatment.

For medical help

Most people with Covid-19 do not need to be hospitalized. For questions about your symptoms, call your doctor, if you have one.

These are emergency warning signs that you need urgent medical help:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or dizziness
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you experience these symptoms, call 911 and tell them you have Covid-19.

For help safely staying away from others

Call the Covid Resource Center at 628-652-2700 if you are:

  • Unhoused or experiencing homelessness
  • Needing help with food. You’ll be connected with Meals on Wheels if you can’t get help through commercial delivery services or others.

A nurse will evaluate anyone requesting a room.

If you don’t reach a person, leave a message.

Do not call to report a positive result on an at-home test.

You can also call 211 for help with other services, including mental health support.

If you tested positive and need financial help, you may be able to get funds from Right to Recover. This program gives a one-time payment to low-wage workers.

Find other COVID-19 services and resources from the City and County of San Francisco.

Return to work

If your employer asks for written proof that you can go back to work after your time of isolation, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has this general letter you can use.

Special cases

Covid at schools, childcare, and youth programs

Covid at schools, childcare, and youth programs

If someone at school, childcare, or a youth program has Covid or there's a chance of exposure, follow our guidance for staff and families. See our health directives for more information.

Individual schools may choose to have additional rules or policies that families should also follow.

People who live or work in high-risk settings

People who live or work in high-risk settings

Healthcare workers and people who live and work in some high-risk settings (long-term care facilities, nursing homes) may have different rules for staying home with COVID-19.  See the isolation directive for more information.

If you live or work in a shelter you can follow the rules above for staying home with COVID-19 infection.

If you work in a jail setting, you should follow the rules from your employer for staying home with COVID-19 infection. Your facility may have stricter rules than those listed above.

Symptoms caused by some other medical condition

Symptoms caused by some other medical condition

Your doctor can write a note if your symptoms are caused by some other medical condition. In that case, you will not have to stay home and away from others.

Which kind of test to use after you've gotten Covid

Which kind of test to use after you've gotten Covid

Rapid antigen tests are better than PCR tests to help you know if it's ok to leave your house after having Covid.

Antigen tests test for virus that can be spread to others. PCR tests can stay positive for weeks after an infection, but don’t necessarily mean you can still spread the virus to others.

Get help

Phone

311

Get help with food, housing, or other needs.

San Francisco Department of Public Health Covid Resource Center

Get help staying safely away from others

Last updated June 9, 2022