Quarantine Instructions

Self-Quarantine Instructions for People Exposed to COVID-19

If you live in San Luis Obispo County, are not fully vaccinated*, and have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you are required to follow this Health Officer order to quarantine yourself immediately, follow the instructions below, and remain in quarantine until your quarantine order ends. Generally speaking, fully vaccinated individuals and individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 fewer than 90 days prior and been released from isolation are NOT required to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19. There may be some exceptions related to immune compromiseIf immune compromise is a concern, the case should be discussed with the Public Health Department at (805)781-5500. 

Note: Quarantine is different from isolation.  Isolation is for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Quarantine is for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19.  

Individuals who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine following travel.  

All other persons arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries, should stay home and self-quarantine. If the individual returning from travel has a negative test for COVID-19 on or after day 5, then that individual may exit self-quarantine on day 8. If they are not tested, then the individual returning from out-of-state travel must quarantine for a full 10 days. 

*Definition of Fully Vaccinated: Two weeks or more have passed since the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks or more have passed since a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or other COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. 

Definition of a Close Contact

A Close Contact is any of the following people who were exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 while they were infectious*:

  • Anyone who was within 6 feet of a known case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, even if everyone wore masks.
  • Anyone who had unprotected contact with an infected individual's body fluids and/or secretions. For example, someone with COVID-19 coughed or sneezed on you or you shared utensils or dishes.

*A person with COVID-19 is contagious 2 days before their first symptoms appear until they are no longer required to self-isolate. A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is contagious from 2 days before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.

Definition of a Household Contact

  • A Household Contact is someone who lives with or cares for a COVID-19 positive individual. A Household Contact is a specific type of close contact with distinct requirements for duration of quarantine. Generally speaking, household contacts who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine. There may be some exceptions related to immune compromiseIf immune compromise is a concern, the case should be discussed with the Public Health Department at (805)781-5500.  
 Step 1: Quarantine (Stay Home)
 

COVID-19 is very contagious. If you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and you are not fully vaccinated, you must self-quarantine to prevent spreading the disease to your family, friends, and community. This means you must stay home and separate yourself from others until your quarantine order ends. 

House1. Do not leave home to go to work, school, or public areas.

While in quarantine, you must not leave your home, even if you feel well. Do not let delivery persons or visitors inside your home. 

Doctor2. You may leave home to get essential medical care.

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Drive yourself alone, if possible. If you cannot drive yourself:
    • Keep as much distance as possible between you and the driver and others (e.g., sit in the back seat), and
    • Leave the windows down, and
    • Wear a mask or cloth face covering. 

Fever3. Stay away from household members.

If you live with other persons:

  • Try to limit your contact with them and wear a face covering if you do. Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Use a separate bathroom if available. 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, towels, and bedding.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch frequently. 

Food delivery4. Do not answer the door for deliveries, if possible.

If someone delivers something at your home, ask them to leave the delivery at your door, if possible. Pick them up after the person has left. If you need to answer the door:

  • Keep as much distance between you and the other person as possible, and
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering. 

Help5. Help is available.

  • There are a variety of local assistance services and programs to help with food assistance and delivery, health insurance coverage, disability insurance, and much more.
  • Unemployment may be available for people who cannot work because they, or a family member, need to isolate or quarantine. Visit the California EDD website for information.  
 Step 2: Monitor your health
 

Temperature1. Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and check your temperature twice daily. 

  • Keep a log of your temperatures
  • If you develop a fever (temperature ≥ 100.4 F) or any COVID-19 symptoms, call your health care provider and get tested for COVID-19.  

Doctor2. Seek emergency medical care immediately If you have any of these warning signs*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. 

Letter3. Contact your health care provider if you have a medical condition that places you at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  

Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

 

 Step 3: Complete the duration of your quarantine period
House 1. Quarantine Time Period
  • Asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals may discontinue quarantine after day ten from the date of last exposure, with or without testing. Alternatively, asymptomatic individuals may exit quarantine after day seven from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative PCR or rapid antigen test on day five or later.  If using a home test kit for this purpose, please see below: Requirements for using at-home testing to reduce quarantine to 7 days

 

Quarantine period for household contacts (someone you live with and/or care for) of a COVID-19 positive individual:  

Download the Quarantine Timeline When Living with Someone with COVID-19

  • If you live with a person with COVID-19, you will have ongoing exposure to the virus until that person is no longer able to spread the virus to other people.
  • After the person with COVID-19 completes their isolation period (minimum of 10 days), continue to quarantine for an additional 7-10 days. 
  • We recommend that you get tested immediately after the household member is confirmed positive, and again 5-7 days after the household member with COVID-19 completes their isolation period.
  • If you test negative on or after day 5, and no one else in your home has COVID-19, you may end quarantine 8 days after the person with COVID-19 completes their isolation period. Get tested and isolate immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If using a home test kit for this purpose, please see below: Requirements for using at-home testing to reduce quarantine to 7 days
  • If possible, you should live apart from a person with COVID-19 until they complete their isolation period. This will reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and shorten the number of days you will need to quarantine.
  • You may exit quarantine after day seven from the date of last exposure if you have received a negative test on day five or later. If using a home test kit for this purpose, please see below: Requirements for using at-home testing to reduce quarantine to 7 days
  • If you have another close contact with a COVID-19 positive person during your quarantine, you will then have to restart your 10 to14-day quarantine period from the last day that you had close contact. For example, 9 days into your quarantine and a different household member gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19 then you need to start your quarantine period over at day 0.

*Individuals who live in congregate settings (e.g., residential care facility for the elderly or those with disabilities, any facility that cares for people who are severely immunocompromised, school, college dorm, or correctional facility) should quarantine for 14 days.

  • If you don’t know when you were exposed and you receive a notice from Public Health ordering you to quarantine, you can end your quarantine 10 days after the date you received the notice from Public Health ordering you to quarantine (as long as you don’t have symptoms).
  • When your quarantine period is over, you may return to work or school. 

Letter2. Request Release from Quarantine Documentation

Does your employer or school require documentation or a letter showing that you have completed your quarantine period? You may request documentation of your release from quarantine by filling out this form

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I start to feel sick and need to see a doctor? What signs should I watch for?

Signs that you are getting sick include fever (temperature greater than 100.4), chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.  

Call ahead first. Your doctor may be able to see and treat minor illness over the phone. If you do need to go to an emergency department, make sure they are ready to receive you and tell them about the COVID-19 quarantine notification you received.

Some symptoms require that you seek medical help immediately. If you develop any of the following symptoms, please call 911 or call ahead to the Emergency Room to let them know that you have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and be prepared to share your date of exposure. Let them know what symptoms you are having. If you develop any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical care or call 911 immediately: Trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. 

 2. Can I go to work if I have been quarantined?

Individuals in quarantine SHOULD NOT GO TO WORK, EVEN IF THEY FEEL NO SYMPTOMS. If the option is available, individuals should work from home during this time while maintaining quarantine.  

Certain exceptions may be allowed for defined essential work based on staffing needs. Such cases should be discussed with the employer and County Public Health Department staff.

3. Can I be outdoors while I am in quarantine? 

Quarantine stops other people from getting infected, especially vulnerable people in your household and community. Do not go to work, school, friend’s or family member’s houses or public places. You can be outdoors if you are by yourself. 

4. Can I go to the grocery store or pharmacy?

No. A quarantine order means you are to stay at home.  If you need assistance beyond what your household members can provide, contact County Public Health at (805) 781-5500.

5. Can I participate in gatherings such as family parties, barbeques, funerals, or celebrations while I am in quarantine or isolation? 
NO, this is extremely dangerous due to your potential contagious illness. Even if you do not feel ill, you can expose others. 
6. What is the difference between Quarantine and Isolation?  

Isolation and Quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. 

  • Isolation is the separation of sick people from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 
7. If I'm ordered to quarantine, should I get tested?

We recommend you get tested 5-7 days after close contact with an individual with COVID-19. In addition, you should get tested as soon as possible if you start experiencing symptoms.

Testing is not recommended for people who had a positive COVID-19  test in the past 90 days and do not currently have symptoms of COVID-19.

8. Do I have to quarantine if I've been vaccinated against COVID-19?

Fully Vaccinated persons* with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. They should get tested 5-7 days after exposure. There may be some exceptions related to immune compromise. If immune compromise is a concern, the case should be discussed with the Public Health Department at (805)781-5500.

*Definition of Fully Vaccinated: Two weeks or more have passed since the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks or more have passed since a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or other COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

 

9. Can I get released from quarantine if I test negative for COVID-19?

Asymptomatic individuals may discontinue quarantine after day ten from the date of last exposure, with or without testing. Asymptomatic individuals may exit quarantine after day seven from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative test collected on day five or later.

If an at-home test is used to exit quarantine, you must also do a telehealth video call, and:

  1. Your healthcare provider supervises self-swab (virtually) and/or you report your result (whether positive or negative) to your healthcare provider.
  2. Follow the at-home test instructions (some manufacturers require two tests 1-3 days apart).
 10. Do I need to quarantine if I've already had COVID-19?

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms. 

Once 90 days have passed from the positive test, an individual must quarantine following close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 UNLESS the exposed individual is fully vaccinated* 

*Definition of Fully Vaccinated: Two weeks or more have passed since the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks or more have passed since a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or other COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. 

11. Will I be getting a quarantine order or letter?
Quarantine letters will be sent out by request only. You can request a Quarantine Letter by completing this form.
 12. What if I still have questions?

Visit the California Department of Public Health website www.cdph.ca.gov. Call your medical provider for any questions related to your health. 

REMEMBER: COVID-19 spreads from infected people to others when they are working, living, or sharing social moments together.

YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY TO HELP US STOP THIS EPIDEMIC. STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, AND KEEP THOSE YOU LOVE SAFE!

Requirements for using at-home testing to reduce quarantine to 7 days

Under the following requirements, an at-home COVID-19 test can be used to shorten the quarantine to 7 days:

  • The test must be either a viral antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test, or a transcription-mediated amplification test.
  • The test must have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer may require a second test be taken within 1-3 days. Your quarantine does not end until all testing requirements are met with a report showing negative for COVID-19 infection.   
  • The testing procedure must include a telehealth video call during which someone authorized by the manufacturer supervises the testing procedure.
  • The telehealth provider must issue a report confirming the patient’s identity, the name of the laboratory or healthcare entity, the type of test, and the specimen collection date.

WHAT IF I NEED MORE INFORMATION?

If you have questions please contact the Public Health Department at (805) 781-5500.

Last Updated November 5, 2021