Updated General Public Isolation Recommendations

Not sure if you need to isolate?

CDC Isolation and Exposure Calculator

This tool helps people know what to do if they have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. People with COVID-19 who have mild symptoms or no symptoms will know how long they need to stay home and away from other people (isolate). People who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 will know to take steps, like getting tested, and for how long they should wear a high-quality mask.

When to Isolate

Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19.

You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If your results are positive, follow the full isolation recommendations below. If your results are negative, you can end your isolation.


If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least 5 days, and isolate from others in your home.

You are likely most infectious during these first 5 days.

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public.
  • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask. For travel guidance, see CDC’s Travel webpage.
  • Do not travel.
  • Stay home and separate from others as much as possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

When to End Isolation

End isolation based on how serious your COVID-19 symptoms were. Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.

Graphic of How to Isolate Diagram

When to Stop Masking

After you have ended isolation, when you are feeling better (no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptoms improving),

  • Wear your mask through day 10.


  • If you have access to antigen tests, you should consider using them. With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.

Note: If your antigen test results are positive, you may still be infectious. You should continue wearing a mask and wait at least 48 hours before taking another test. Continue taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you have two sequential negative results. This may mean you need to continue wearing a mask and testing beyond day 10.

Additional Isolation Recommendations

  • People who live or work in a high-risk setting, including long-term care, correctional and healthcare settings, contact your employer and/or public health for guidance.
  • People who have children in early childhood/daycares/pre-school or who have students in K-12 schools should contact their schools and/or public health for guidance.

There are many resources available to schools, businesses, and communities! The CDC has compiled everything you may need at their website, Community, Work and Schools.