Managing Your Health

Know How it Spreads

The virus that causes COVID-19 primarily spreads between people in close contact when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. You might also get the virus if you touch something with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Get Vaccinated

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Find your vaccine at www.zocdoc.com/vaccine or call 312 746 4835. Learn more at www.chi.gov/covidvax.

If you're not vaccinated, take everyday preventative actions

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put 6ft of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household
  • Wear a face covering when in public and around others
  • Avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces
  • If you’re sick, stay home except to get medical care.

Protect Children and Vulnerable Members

  • The best way to protect children and vulnerable members of the household is for everyone in the home to get vaccinated. Currently children age 6 and older can be vaccinated.
  • Teach children the same things everyone should do to stay healthy. Children and other people can spread the virus even if they don’t show symptoms.

Separate a Household Member Who Is Sick

  • Keep people at higher risk separated from anyone who is sick.
  • Have only one person in the household take care of the person who is sick.
  • Provide a separate bedroom and bathroom for the person who is sick, if possible.
  • If you need to share a bedroom, separate the ill person’s bed.
  • If you need to share a bathroom, clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in the bathroom after each use.
  • Maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other family or household members.
  • If you are sick, do not help prepare food. Also, eat separately from the family.
  • If you are vaccinated, it is much less likely that you will get sick while taking care of someone who is sick.

Learn more at Centers of Disease Control & Prevention.

If you’re sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested immediately and isolate until you know your results, even if you are fully vaccinated. To get tested, call your healthcare provider or find a testing site near you.

If a household member is sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should also get tested and protect others by wearing a mask around others for 10 days, and testing on day 5, if possible.

If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you most likely DO currently have an active COVID-19 infection and can give the virus to others.

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status should stay home and isolate for 5 days.

After 5 days, if your symptoms are improving and you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without medication, you can leave your home, but you should continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days and avoid contact with high-risk people. 

You may remove your mask after day 6 and sooner than day 10 if you test negative on two sequential rapid antigen tests 48 hours apart.

If you have a fever or are still feeling sick, continue to stay home until 24 hours after your fever resolves and symptoms improve.

If your symptoms worsen, seek immediate attention from a healthcare provider.

Be sure to tell all your close contacts they may need to get tested and quarantine. You may receive a phone call from the City of Chicago’s contact tracers for a phone interview. The call will come from 312-74-COVID (312-742-6843). Please answer this phone call and provide as much detail as possible. Additional information can be found at chicago.gov/contacttracing.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you most likely DO NOT currently have an active COVID-19 infection. 

If you are symptomatic but have a negative COVID-19 test, we recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your symptoms resolved.

Follow these guidelines: 

If you’re mildly ill and can recover at home, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community. 

  • Stay home, except to get medical care
  • Stay away from other people in your home
  • Clean your hands often
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a face covering if you must be around other people (even at home)
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, like doorknobs, light switches, phones, and faucets
  • Monitor your symptoms
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor

Learn more at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Getting Tested After Exposure

If you have had confirmed or suspected close contact with someone who has COVID-19, instead of quarantine, you should wear a mask for 10 days around others in indoor settings and take a COVID-19 five days after the exposure, or sooner if you develop symptoms.

Getting Tested After Developing Symptoms

Get tested immediately if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and isolate until you know your results, even if you are fully vaccinated.

If you test positive:

  • You should stay home for 5 days and isolate, regardless of your vaccination status.
  • After 5 days, if your symptoms are improving and you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without medication, you can leave your home, but you should continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days and avoid contact with high-risk people.
  • You may remove your mask after day 6 and sooner than day 10 if you test negative on two sequential rapid antigen tests 48 hours apart.
  • If you have a fever or are still feeling sick, continue to stay home until 24 hours after your fever resolves and symptoms improve.

For additional information, please see the CDC's latest guidance on isolation.

When to call for emergency medical attention

The list below is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

Adults: Look for the emergency warning signs below for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Constant pain or pressure in the chest
  • Signs of low blood pressure (too weak to stand, dizziness, lightheaded, feeling cold, pale, clammy skin)
  • Dehydration (dry lips and mouth, not urinating much, sunken eyes)
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking (new or worsening)
  • New confusion or difficulty awakening
  • New or worsening seizures

Children: Parents, guardians and others caring for children should call their pediatrician if they notice these warning signs in a child:

  • Fever for 5 days or more
  • Not consolable or increased irritability
  • Dehydration (dry lips and mouth, fewer wet diapers, not urinating as much as usual)
  • Cold, pale skin
Parents and guardians should seek medical attention immediately (go to the Emergency Room or call 911) if they notice these warning signs in a child:
  • Fast breathing, pulling in under the ribs and/or flaring of the nostrils when breathing
  • Decreased activity, increased sleepiness or difficulty waking up
  • Inability to keep any liquids or refusing to take liquids

Please call the child's healthcare provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

While surgical masks and KN95 masks are intended for single use in clinical settings, when used as mitigation measures in community settings, they may be reused for an extended period of time. KN95 masks are widely available from a variety of online and store retailers. To best use your KN95 mask, do the following:

  • For any mask, it is most important to make sure that it is well-fitted to your face.
  • Always perform hand hygiene before putting on or taking off any mask or face covering
  • Do not attempt to wash your KN95. To keep your KN95 clean between uses, you can store it in a dry paper bag.
  • Discard your mask if it is: 
    • soiled
    • damaged 
    • becomes stretched out, no longer covers the nose and mouth, or cannot stay on your face
    • is hard to breathe through