What to Know for Holiday Gatherings – NBC Chicago

As many prepare for holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Years, and with the omicron variant now on the rise across the country, causing significant spikes in cases nationwide, many are wondering what they are. should do if they tested positive for COVID or were in contact with someone who did.

How long are you contagious, what are the quarantine guidelines, and when can you see people again?

Here’s a look at advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if your test is positive or if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has.

How quickly can symptoms appear?

Symptoms of COVID can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the CDC.

Anyone with symptoms should get tested for COVID.

When should you take a COVID test?

Those who have been fully vaccinated and in close proximity to someone with COVID-19 are recommended to get tested between five and seven days after exposure, according to the most recent CDC guidelines, although previous guidelines have been between three and five days.

Those who do develop symptoms should get tested as symptoms develop, but if a test is negative and symptoms persist, another test may be needed a few days later, especially for those using drugs. home test kits.

“So if someone has symptoms and gets a negative test, a, it depends on the severity, right? If you have severe symptoms, we also don’t want you to just take a test. at home, ”said Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal, associate chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Cook County Health. “We want you to call your doctor’s office and make sure they have an opinion here because of course there are other things like the flu that can mimic symptoms or have similar symptoms. symptoms and they are rather mild and persistent and you are using the [at-home] test and it is negative, we want you to take appropriate precautions and then retest in three to five days. And that’s why most of these kits come with two tests. “

When is a person with COVID contagious?

A person with COVID-19 is considered infectious from two days before they develop symptoms, or two days before their positive test date if they do not have symptoms.

How long should you quarantine or isolate?

First, those who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID and who is not vaccinated should self-quarantine. People who test positive, regardless of their vaccination status, should self-isolate, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.

Here is the breakdown:


Those who have been within 6 feet of a person with COVID for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period should stay home for 14 days after their last contact with that person and monitor symptoms. If possible, people in quarantine should also stay away from people they live with, especially those at increased risk of developing more serious COVID illness.

If symptoms appear within the quarantine window, isolate immediately and contact a health care provider, CDC guidance says.

Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine, according to the CDC, but they should be tested five to seven days after exposure, regardless of symptoms.

However, local health authorities can also make the final decision on the duration of a quarantine. And testing can play a role.

For example, in Chicago, those who travel to or from certain parts of the country and are not vaccinated should self-quarantine when they arrive in Chicago, but the length of time they have to do so depends on whether or not they are undergoing a COVID test.

that of the city travel recommendations recommends that those traveling from designated warning states:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if your test is negative, stay home and quarantine yourself for 7 days.
    • If your test is positive, self-isolate to protect others from infection.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and quarantine yourself for 10 days after travel.

Illinois Department of Health states this:

  • The quarantine may end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported within a day of the daily monitoring period.
  • Quarantine may end after day 7 if an RT (reverse transcriptase) -PCR test is negative and no symptoms were reported within one day of the daily monitoring period. The earliest a sample can be collected and tested would be on day 6, with quarantine being interrupted no earlier than day 8. This option, however, is not recommended for children in daycares or schools from Kindergarten to Kindergarten. 12th grade.

“Due to the risk of serious disease and collective transmission, the IDPH recommends the full quarantine period of 14 days rather than the shortened options described above in collective living settings with vulnerable populations, such as skilled care. and correctional facilities, ”the Illinois state Department of Health on its website.

For schools, the orientation is different. Within these parameters, the IDPH guidelines state that:

  1. Any student or school staff who is a confirmed or probable case should stay home for at least 10 days after the start date if symptomatic or the positive test date if asymptomatic, or as directed by the local school health authority.
  2. Any unvaccinated student or school staff who are in close contact should stay home for at least 14 days or as directed by the school’s local health authority, who may recommend options such as exclusion for 10 days. without testing but with a daily symptom check or seven days with a negative test result on day 6. As an alternative to exclusion, schools may allow close contacts who are asymptomatic to be on school premises, extracurricular events or any other event organized by the school if both the confirmed or probable case and the contact were masked during the entire exposure period and provided negative contact tests on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 depending on the exposure. People who are fully vaccinated or who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 90 days and who are currently asymptomatic are not considered close contacts.
  3. Any student or school staff who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, should stay home until they test negative for COVID-19, or for at least 10 days, until they test negative for COVID-19. have a fever free for 24 hours and up to 48 hours after the diarrhea or vomiting has stopped.


According to the CDC, people who are COVID-positive should stay home until they can be safe with other people, including even other members of their home.

Health officials recommend a “sick room” or an area for infected people and a separate bathroom, if possible.

So how do you calculate your 10 day isolation period?

According to the CDC, “Day 0 is your first day of symptoms.” This means that Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms appear.

For those who test positive for COVID but have no symptoms, day 0 is the day of the positive test. Those who develop symptoms after testing positive, however, must restart their calculations, with day 0 becoming the first day of symptoms.

When to call a doctor

The CDC is urging those who have or may have COVID-19 to watch for emergency warning signs and seek immediate medical attention if they show any symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone

“This list does not contain all possible symptoms,” says the CDC. “Please call your doctor for any other symptoms that are serious or of concern to you.”

You can also let the operator know that you think you or someone you care for has COVID.

What if you test positive using a home test?

Those who test positive using a home test are urged to follow the latest CDC guidelines and report the results to their health care provider, who is responsible for reporting test results to the department. state health.

However, Dr Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said this process is unlikely to happen for every test.

“All of these negatives are not being reported realistically,” Arwady said. “We don’t count, you know, it’s a fiction that we ever counted every COVID test.”

She added that while many home tests go unreported, positive results are likely provided to health care providers and then to health services.

When can you be around other people after you have been diagnosed with COVID?

If you’ve had symptoms, the CDC says you can be around other people if you meet the following criteria:

  • 10 days since the onset of symptoms and
  • 24 hours fever-free without the use of antipyretic drugs and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 improve (note that the loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and is not among these symptoms)

The CDC says, however, that these recommendations do not apply to those with severe COVID or a weakened immune system.

If you tested positive but had no symptoms during the time you were in isolation, the CDC says:

  • You can be with others after 10 days have passed since you tested positive for COVID-19 (depending on when you were tested)

For people with serious illnesses or a weakened immune system, the CDC says it is advisable to stay home for up to 20 days after the first symptoms appear, but people in this group should speak to their health care provider before making decisions.

“People with weakened immune systems may need tests to determine when they can be with others,” the CDC website says. “Talk to your health care provider for more information. ”

Sara H. Byrd