The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the incubation timeline for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. That means once someone has been exposed, they can test positive any time during that 14 day incubation period.
The CDC released a graphic explaining what that means:
- Day 0: Kate was exposed to COVID-19
- Day 5: Kate got tested for COVID-19 and her results came back negative
- Day 8: Thinking she didn’t have COVID-19, Kate went to work and a family gathering. She was contagious days 8 and 9, which is 48 hours before she showed symptoms. She exposed 22 people between work and the family gathering.
- Day 10: Kate became symptomatic and tested positive.
The CDC has recommended canceling Thanksgiving travel and gatherings due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
Here are the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19?
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
What is close contact?
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
What should I do during quarantine?
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
- Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
- If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19
When do I start or end my quarantine if I’ve been exposed?
- You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
What are COVID-19 symptoms?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19, according to the CDC:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as more is learned about COVID-19.
Where can I get tested?
- Find a community testing site
- Call your primary care physician
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