Coronavirus Disease 2019

Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19

Home isolation guidance PDF
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Translations pending: عربى (Arabic) (revised 5-1-20) View Page in Spanish
The following instructions are for people who have COVID-19. It also includes information for their families or caregivers.
If you are a health care worker or first responder, please refer to guidance from your employer.
To see the legal requirement that individuals who have been diagnosed with, or who are likely to have, COVID-19 must isolate themselves, view the Public Health Emergency Isolation Order.
Home Care

There is no specific treatment for the virus that causes COVID-19. Here are steps that you can take to help you get better:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to reduce fever and pain.

Note that children younger than age 2 should not be given any over-the-counter cold medications without first speaking with a doctor.

Note that these medicines do not “cure” the illness and do not stop you from spreading germs.

Seeking Medical Care

Make a note of when your symptoms started and continue to monitor your health. Stay in touch with your doctor and seek prompt medical care if your symptoms get worse. People who are age 65 years and older or who have a health problem such as a chronic disease or a weak immune system may be at a higher risk of serious illness.

Call 911 if there are emergency warning signs

People with emergency warning signs should call 911. Tell the dispatch personnel that you have COVID-19. If it’s not urgent, call ahead before visiting your doctor, you may be able to get advice by phone.

COVID-19 may be stressful for people, visit to learn how to care for your mental health and support your loved ones. If you need to speak with someone about your mental health, contact your doctor or the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Center 24/7 Helpline at (800) 854-7771. If you need help finding healthcare, call the Los Angeles County Information line 2-1-1, which is also available 24/7.


Follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and your community.

When Does My Home Isolation End?

You must stay home and separate yourself from others until your home isolation ends.

If you had symptoms, you must stay home until:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  • Your respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath) AND
  • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but never had any symptoms:

  • You must stay home for 10 days after the test was taken, but
  • If you develop symptoms, you need to follow the instructions above
Stay home except to get medical care
  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Stay away from others until you have cleared isolation (see box above).
  • If you must leave home to get medical care, do not use public transportation. Use a personal vehicle if possible. If you cannot drive yourself, keep as much distance as possible between you and the driver, leave the windows down and wear a mask if possible. If you do not have a mask, wear a cloth face cover (see below).
  • If you do not have someone to help you, if possible, arrange for food and other necessities to be left at your door. If you need help finding free delivery services, social services, essential items like food and medicines call 2-1-1 or visit the Public Health resource webpage.
Separate yourself from other people in your home
  • Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home as much as possible. It is particularly important to stay away from people who are at higher risk of serious illness.
  • Use a separate bathroom. If this is not possible, clean the bathroom after use (see below).
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others.
  • Open windows or use a fan or an air conditioner in shared spaces in the home, if possible, to ensure good airflow.
  • Do not allow visitors and limit the number of people in your home.
  • Do not handle pets or other animals.
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others.
Wear a facemask or cloth face cover when you are around others
  • You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a hospital or doctor’s office. If you do not have a mask, wear a cloth face cover. Note, a mask or cloth face cover should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without assistance.
  • If you are not able to wear a facemask or face cover, then people who live with you should not be in the same room with you. If they must enter your room, they should wear a facemask. After leaving your room, they should immediately clean their hands, then remove and dispose of their facemask, and clean their hands again.
  • Use masks and face covers with caution with children. Infants and children under 2 should not wear cloth face coverings. Those between the ages of 2 and 8 should use them but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation.
  • See Guidance for Cloth Facing Coverings for more information.
Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands.

Avoid sharing personal household items

Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. Wash them thoroughly with soap and water after use.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often and thoroughly, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean and disinfect any surfaces that may have body fluids on them. Use household cleaning and disinfectant sprays or wipes, according to the product label instructions. See cleaning instructions in Preventing the spread of respiratory illness in the home on the Public Health Website.

Returning to work or school

When your home isolation ends (see box above) you are no longer infectious, and you can resume your usual activities, including returning to work and/or school. You do not need to have a negative test or a letter from Public Health to return to work or school.

Definition of a Close Contact

A “close contact” is any of the following people who were exposed to an “*infected person” while they were infectious:

  1. An individual who was within 6 feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes
  2. An individual who had unprotected contact with the infected person’s body fluids and/or secretions, for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing utensils or saliva, or providing care without wearing appropriate protective equipment.

*An infected person is anyone with COVID-19, or who is suspected to have COVID-19, and is considered to be infectious from 48 hours before their symptoms first appeared until they are no longer required to be isolated. A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is considered to be infectious from 48 hours before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.


You must tell all of your close contacts that they need to be in quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with you. You need to give them the home quarantine instructions which are available in multiple languages at Your close contacts must quarantine even if they feel well.

Precautions for close contacts

It is recommended that everyone stays at least 6 feet away from you while you are under home isolation. If this is not possible, anyone who continues to be in close contact with you will need to extend their quarantine period to 14 days from the last time they had close contact with you during your isolation period as explained in the home quarantine instructions.

Your caregivers and household contacts should wear a disposable facemask and gloves if they clean your room or bathroom or come into contact with your body fluids or secretions (such as sweat, saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine, or diarrhea). They should remove and dispose of their gloves first, clean their hands, then remove and dispose of their facemask, and clean their hands again. See cleaning instructions in Preventing the spread of respiratory illness in the home on the Public Health Website.

  • For more information, visit the Public Health website or call 2-1-1 (which is available 24/7).
  • Please call your health care provider for any questions related to your health. If you need help finding a health care provider, call 2-1-1.
Updated 6-1-20

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  • Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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