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Posted on: January 13, 2022

What to do if you test positive for COVID or were exposed to someone with COVID

What to do if you test positive for COVID or are exposed

New York State has implemented significant changes in contact tracing procedures due to the overwhelming spread of COVID-19 at this time. It is not feasible for our local health department to personally reach every positive and close contact because of the volume of cases. Although guidance has been updated as of 1/12/2022, the basics of staying home as a positive case or close contact has remained the same.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID?

Please note:

  • If you have tested positive, most people will not receive a phone call from NYS or Public Health.
  • You will be self-responsible to print off the below Affirmation of Isolation form if you need one for your employer / school or for the New York Paid Family Leave for COVID-19. This Affirmation of Isolation will serve as your Isolation Order and your Release Notice.
  • If you test positive using a home test, you can still report your positive home test to Public Health by clicking here.
      • Please only submit the form ONCE, then check your email for further instructions.
      • If you tested positive at home AND at a testing facility, you DO NOT need to report your at-home test result as your other test will be reported to us by the test site. Just follow the other steps in this “What should I do if I test positive?” section.
      • After submitting the form you will be directed to the Affirmation of Isolation form. You will want to print / download this form for your records or to provide to your school / employer if needed. The form will serve as your Isolation Order and your Release Notice.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or worsen, please call your Healthcare Provider. If it is a medical emergency, call 911.
  • You can also click here for detailed information from the CDC on What to Do If You Are Sick.

Steps to take if you tested positive

  1. Stay home for 5 days
    • From when your symptoms started, or if you don't have symptoms, stay home for 5 days from your test date.
    • Please note: If you are still having a fever at day 5, continue to stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours.
  2. Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 more days
    • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home.
    • Wear a well-fitting mask when around others, as you may still be contagious up until about 10 days after your symptoms started or you tested positive.
    • Please note: If you can't wear a mask or are moderately-severely immunocompromised, you should stay home for the full 10 days.
  3. Inform your employer / school and anyone you may have exposed
    • Refer the people you exposed to this website to the "What should I do if I was exposed to COVID?" section below.
    • People with COVID are typically contagious for about 10 days after their symptoms start and the two days before their symptoms started.
    • People are most likely to get COVID from you if they were within 6 feet of you while you were contagious for 10+ minutes or if they spent a long time with you in the same room / enclosed space. This most likely would include:
      • People who live in your home with you
      • People you may have visited with
      • People you work with or attend school with
      • People who provide services to you in your home
  4. Print / download a copy to your phone / computer of the following Affirmation of Isolation form for your records and to give to your employer / school, if needed. 

What should I do if I was exposed to COVID?

If you were in close contact with someone with COVID while they were contagious, you should take extra precautions for at least 10 days after you were exposed. View the below information or click here for detailed information from the CDC about who does and does not need to quarantine and how to quarantine. Please note:

  • You may not receive a call from NYS or Public Health. Contact tracing is still be conducted in congregate settings such as schools, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, etc.
  • It will be your self-responsibility to quarantine.
  • You will be self-responsible to print off the below Affirmation of Quarantine form if you need one for your employer / school or for the New York Paid Family Leave for COVID-19. This Affirmation of Quarantine will serve as your Quarantine Order and your Release Notice.
  • If you are (a) Fully vaccinated AND boosted or (b) Fully vaccinated and NOT yet eligible for a booster, you do not have to quarantine. You should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days starting from the last day you were exposed to the person who tested positive for COVID. If you develop symptoms, you should get tested and stay home.
  • If you are (a) Not fully vaccinated OR (b) Fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster, but have not gotten it yet, you should quarantine.

Steps to take if you need to quarantine

  1. Stay home for 5 days
    • From when you were last exposed to the person who tested positive for COVID.
  2. Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 more days
    • Wear a well-fitting mask when around others. While symptoms or a positive test usually occur in the initial 5 days after exposure, it can take longer in some cases.
    • Please note: If you can't wear a mask or are moderately-severely immunocompromised, you should stay home for the full 10 days
  3. Testing is recommended 5 days after your exposure or if you develop symptoms
    • If you develop symptoms, you should get tested and stay home. 
  4. Print / download a copy to your phone / computer of the following Affirmation of Quarantine form for your records and to give to your employer / school, if needed. 

Additional isolation and quarantine resources and information

  • For the NYSDOH Isolation and Quarantine Guidance, click here.
    • To view the guidance in a simplified table format, click here.
  • Looking for a printable one page sheet of the updated isolation and quarantine guidance? Click here.
  • Please remember, if you get a phone call or text message that asks for your banking or credit card information or your Social Security number – DELETE IT – we NEVER ask for that type of information.

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