On August 11, 2022, the U.S. CDC changed their recommendations for how people can stay safe during COVID-19. For years now, what we have had to do to stay safe has changed as we learned more about the pandemic. This change is just making sure that people have the latest information on what they should do.
The updated recommendations do not mean that COVID-19 is over. COVID-19 is still making hundreds of Philadelphians sick every day, and people all across the country are still dying from this disease. There are things you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from severe COVID-19.
The most important thing that you can do to protect yourself from severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death is to be up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines. You can find the closest vaccine location on the Health Department’s website.
The Health Department strongly recommends that Philadelphians wear a face mask if they are around others in indoor public spaces. N-95 and KN-95 masks provide the best protection. Wearing a paper, surgical mask under a cloth mask is almost as protective as an N-95 mask. Paper, surgical masks offer lower protection. Just wearing a cloth mask is no longer recommended.
Wearing a mask is especially important for people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19.
Keep an eye on the CDC Community Level to help gauge your risk of being exposed to COVID-19. When the risk or high or medium, the Health Department will strongly recommend that people wear masks.
Masks are also important if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Instead of quarantining, people should wear a high-quality mask for ten days if they have been around someone who has COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay at home away from others for five days and continue to wear a high-quality mask for five additional days.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19
If you have been around someone who has confirmed COVID-19, you should wear a mask for ten days. After five days, take a COVID-19 test. You can learn more about where to get tested on the Health Department’s website. If you test negative, continue to wear a high-quality mask for five additional days.
If you are feeling symptoms of COVID-19
If you are feeling sick with symptoms of COVID-19 like sore throat, cough, or fever, you should take a COVID-19 test. You can learn more about where to get tested on the Health Department’s website. If your test comes back negative but you are still sick, take another test at least 48 hours later and, continue to wear a high-quality mask for five additional days.
If you test positive for COVID-19
If you test positive, you should start isolating immediately. This means that you should stay at home and away from others for at least five days. Wear a high-quality mask around others in your home. After five days, if you feel better and have no symptoms, you can stop isolating, but still should wear a high-quality mask for five additional days.
If you can take a test after testing positive, take it after five days. Once you have two consecutive negative tests at least 48 hours apart, you can stop wearing a mask and isolating.
If your symptoms come back at any point, start isolating again.
You can also use tests to decide when to stop masking. If you are feeling better and fever free on day 6 take a test, then take another one 48 hours later. If both are negative, you can stop wearing a mask.
If you are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, because you are older, overweight, or have chronic conditions that may make the sickness worse, contact your healthcare provider to learn about free treatment options. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can visit any of the Test to Treat locations to get access to treatment.
You should also stay away from people more likely to have severe illness if they get COVID-19 during that time.