Isolation and quarantine
People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, should seek testing and stay in a quarantine location (your home if you have one or in a government directed or publicly provided location if one is available) in accordance with CDC and Public Health guidance.
If your test result is positive, you must then remain in isolation.
If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms:
- Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option.
- If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact, without additional testing.
If the first two options are not possible, stay in quarantine for 7 full days beginning after your last contact and if you receive a negative test result (get tested no sooner than day 5 after your last contact). This option depends on availability of testing resources and may not be recommended in some settings.
What if I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19?
If you are fully vaccinated*, you do not need to quarantine after an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 unless you have symptoms.
If you develop symptoms within 14 days after an exposure, isolate yourself from others and talk to a healthcare provider to be evaluated for COVID-19. Your provider should ask about your vaccination status and/or previous infection status. They will talk with you about next steps, including potentially getting tested for SARS-CoV-2 or ending isolation early.
If you do not develop symptoms after an exposure, you should monitor for symptoms for 14 days, but you do not need to quarantine or be tested.
*People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
If it has been less than 2 weeks since your shot, or if you still need to get your second dose, you are NOT fully protected. Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated, including the quarantine guidance above.
You need to quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 after an exposure to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This is because residential congregate settings may face high turnover of residents, a higher risk of transmission, and challenges in maintaining recommended physical distancing.
You do not need to quarantine after an exposure to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 if you do not develop symptoms. Testing is still recommended in these cases.
If you live in a healthcare setting: even if you are fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for 14 days.
If you work in a healthcare setting: fully vaccinated staff who are asymptomatic do not need to be restricted from work. There may be exceptions described by the CDC here.
For more guidance, please visit CDC’s guidance for vaccinated health care workers.
According to the CDC, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions.
What if I have recently recovered from COVID-19?
If you recently recovered from a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness you are not required to quarantine after a new exposure COVID-19 if:
- You completed isolation for your initial laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness AND,
- It has been fewer than 90 days since your first positive test (if asymptomatic) or since symptoms started AND,
- You do not have any symptoms since the current COVID-19 exposure.
People who develop new COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of a new exposure and only meet the first two criteria above should isolate from others and talk to a healthcare provider to be evaluated for COVID-19. Your provider should ask about whether you’ve been vaccinated for or previously infected with COVID-19. They will talk with you about next steps, including potentially getting tested or ending isolation early.
If you suspect you’ve previously had COVID-19 but did not have a lab-confirmed result, you should still quarantine (see “When do I need to quarantine?” section above) and get tested if you have a new exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 regardless of if you develop symptoms.
When do I need to isolate?
All individuals who test positive for COVID-19, even after vaccination, shall enter and remain in isolation.
Do not leave your home or recovery facility, except to receive medical care. For individuals with symptoms, discontinue isolation only after:
- At least 24 hours have passed with no fever (without the use of fever reducing medication); AND,
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; AND,
- Other symptoms have improved.
For individuals who tested positive but have not had any symptoms, discontinue isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, and there has been no subsequent illness.
What if I need help finding a place to isolate or quarantine?
Isolation and quarantine centers are available to provide a safe, clean, and comfortable place to stay for people who can’t safely self-quarantine or isolate in their own home, or don’t have a home. These places are free and confidential for everyone, and your stay is not reported to any authority outside Public Health.
To access services, call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 from 8AM to 10 PM daily to see if isolation and quarantine services are right for you. Interpretation is available.
What if I can’t afford to take time off work to isolate or quarantine?
If you are experiencing economic hardship and test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who tested positive, you may be eligible to receive a one-time direct payment to vendors for up to $1500 towards housing costs and utility bills. No application is necessary and there is no citizenship or income requirement.
To learn more about this resource and if you qualify, visit the Household Assistance Request web page.
Local Health Officer Directive and Order
Effective March 28, 2020, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and have a test result pending must remain in quarantine or isolation to prevent further spread, as described above. Individuals who fail to comply may be subject to involuntary detention pursuant to public health authority under RCW 70.05.070 (2)-(3) and WAC 246-100-036 (3).
For more information, see the complete order for additional details, including conditions of quarantine and isolation.