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What should I do if I think I've been exposed to COVID-19? Should I quarantine? How long do I have to stay home?
NOTE: Individuals who are fully vaccinated or who have clinically recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months do NOT need to quarantine after having close contact with someone with COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic. However, there are exceptions for individuals living in high-risk congregate care settings. For more information, see NJ DOH's reommended minimum quarantine time frames.
You should quarantine and stay at home away from others if you were in close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over 24-hours) with someone who had COVID-19, or if you participated in a high risk activity such as attending large gatherings with people who do not live with you.
The safest option is to stay home for 14 days. If you cannot stay home for 14 days due to economic or other hardship, there are two options:
- No Test Option: Stay home for 10 days. If you stay symptom free for 10 days, quarantine ends. Monitor symptoms, wear a mask, and social distance through day 14.
- Test Option: Stay home for 7 days. Get tested at Day 5, 6, or 7. Stay home while awaiting results. If the test is negative and you stay symptom free, quarantine ends. Monitor symptoms, wear a mask, and social distance through day 14.
Everyone in quarantine should wear a mask, social distance from others, wash hands often, and cooperate with contact tracers if you receive a call.
If you are quarantined or in home isolation, do not leave your home (except to get medical care). There are many programs in place to help you and your family including food assistance, unemployment insurance, sick leave, and job protections. Learn more here.
For individuals who cannot safely quarantine at home, the State is securing beds at hotels, an alternative care site, and other locations. Contact your local health department.
For individuals who are self-isolating or quarantining at home, but live in large or multigenerational households where others may be at risk, the Department of Health recommends taking the following precautions:
- For large households or homes with many people, persons who are sick should remain in a separate bedroom and stay away from anyone who is not sick as much as possible.
- If the sick person cannot be isolated in a separate room, consider having them isolate in an alternate location that has a separate bedroom and bathroom for them to rest and recover.
- If a family member(s) has underlying health conditions, consider having them quarantine at a nearby alternate site away from the sick individual.
- If the sick person needs to leave the bedroom to use the bathroom (or kitchen), they should wear a mask.
- The sick individual should not eat meals with others in the household to limit the spread of the virus within the home.
- All persons living in the home should practice good hand hygiene (Wash hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol).
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly is important especially in the bathroom as well as doorknobs and stair rails
Source:Commissioner Persichilli's remarks 10/2/20; https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/quarantine-options.pdf; https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/COVID-How-Long-Isolate-Quarantine.pdf