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Recommendations for people awaiting test results of a household member

What should I do if I live with someone waiting for a COVID-19 test result?

Wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask (KN95 or N95) around the person in your home and around others outside the home while the isolating person awaits their test results. The isolating person should also wear a mask if they must be around others at home or in public.

The isolating person should remain in their own room and use their own bathroom, if possible. You and other household members should wear face masks, stay distanced as much as possible, and frequently clean high-touch surfaces (e.g., counters, tables, doorknobs, handles) and wash your hands.

You should wear a mask in public until the person you live with receives a negative test result. If they receive a positive test, you do not need to quarantine but instead must mask in public for 10 days.

Read the CDC’s recommendations for staying up-to-date on vaccine doses and boosters.

Consider getting tested for COVID-19 if:

  • You have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and the factors that make risk of spread higher or lower.
  • The date of your exposure is considered day 0. For a household member, your last day of contact is your last contact with the infected person. If you cannot isolate from them, the last day of their isolation is your last day of close contact, and you would begin your 10-day masking period at that time.

If you do not develop symptoms, consider getting tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.  See our map of testing sites. If you test negative, you can leave your home, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others until 5 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Regardless of exposure, if you develop symptoms, you should get tested for COVID-19.

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, new onset of cough, shortness of breath, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • While waiting for the results of a PCR test, take precautions such as masking and avoiding those who are vulnerable. If you test negative, you should wait until symptoms resolve and you are fever-free for 24 hours before ending precautions.
  • If you test negative via a commercially available, over-the-counter antigen test, you should repeat the test two and four days after your first negative test before ending precautions.
  • Find out more from the CDC.

Vaccination is not 100% effective.

Vaccination is highly effective against severe disease and disability but is not 100% effective against infection.

  • Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should be tested.
  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate according to CDC guidelines.
  • After vaccination you must still follow local mask guidance. There are some settings where masking is still required.

For more detailed recommendations about isolation and exposure precautions, see:

  • Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
  • If you have questions, call the Department of Public Health at (215) 685-5488.