COVID-19: What to Do When Sick

New Guidance on Isolation

New York state recently changed its guidance on how long people need to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 or quarantine after exposure.

People who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home (isolate) for at least five days from when their symptoms began or, if they had no symptoms, from their test date. After five days, most people can leave home if they do not have symptoms or their symptoms are improving and they have not had a fever in the last 24 hours. They must wear a well-fitting mask around other people for six to 10 days.

Depending on your vaccination status, you may or may not need to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

You no longer need to get an isolation or quarantine letter from the NYC Health Department. You can fill out the forms below and share them with your employer or school. If you have questions, or are not able to use the New York State forms, you can call the NYC Coronavirus Call Line at (855) 491-2667.

If you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, talk to your health care provider or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).

Identifying and Managing COVID-19

Recognize Symptoms

The following COVID-19 symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or 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

This list does not include all possible symptoms, and some people with COVID-19 do not feel any symptoms.

Tell People

If you test positive, tell people you have been in close contact with (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes over a 24-hour period) so they can get tested and separate from others. This includes anyone you were in close contact with between two days before your symptoms began (or if you had no symptoms, two days before your test date) and 10 days after that.

People you should tell include:

  • People you live with
  • Friends and family
  • Your employer
  • Your child's school, if they test positive
  • Anyone else you have been in close contact with

Protect Others at Home

To protect others in your household from getting sick:

  • Stay at least 6 feet from everyone in your home — distance is the best way to protect others.

  • Wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are in the same room as others. Other people in the room should also wear a mask.

  • Use a separate bathroom if available. If you share a bathroom, disinfect surfaces and fixtures after each use.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hands to cover your sneeze or cough. Immediately throw out tissues and wash your hands afterward.

  • Clean surfaces that are frequently touched, such as counters, doorknobs and phones. Clean them after each use or at least once every day. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.

  • If you share a bed with someone, sleep head-to-toe or have one person sleep on the couch or floor.

  • If you need to be in the same room as others, move around furniture so that you can sit further apart.

  • Do not share personal household items, such as glasses, cups, eating utensils and towels.

  • Do not have visitors come to your home.

Get Help Managing Care

The NYC Test and Trace Corps can help you safely separate at home, including assistance arranging food and medicine delivery, pet care and finding a health care provider.

To contact a resource navigator, call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319), press 5 for help to safely separate, and then press 5 again to leave a voicemail for other resources. A resource navigator will call you back.

To check if you are managing medicines safely, contact the Poison Control Center to speak with a registered pharmacist or nurse.

Treatment Options

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 may be able to receive outpatient treatment to help reduce COVID-19 symptoms and avoid hospitalization. Treatment usually works best if you begin it soon after you start feeling symptoms, so get tested right away.

There are two types of treatment for people with mild to moderate COVID-19:

  • Monoclonal antibody treatment: A one-time IV or injection to help give you antibody protection while your body works to produce its own antibodies.

  • Oral antiviral pills: These pills — taken daily for five days — help stop the virus from replicating. This reduces the amount of virus in your body. The FDA has authorized two pills to treat COVID-19 — paxlovid and molunpiravir.

Eligibility and Availability

Due to limited supply, both of these treatments are currently only available to people who have tested positive and are at the highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you have symptoms, contact your health care provider. If you need help finding free or low-cost medical care, call 311. You can get medical care in NYC regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

You can also talk to an NYC Health + Hospitals doctor by visiting ExpressCare and clicking on “Talk to a Doctor Now,” or by calling 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).


"Long COVID"

Most people who have COVID-19 completely recover, but some have lasting symptoms and health problems.

Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, also called long COVID or chronic COVID, refers to a wide range of symptoms that develop during or after COVID-19 illness and continue for several weeks or months. Symptoms include fatigue, breathing problems and muscle pain.

For more information on the symptoms of long COVID and available care options in NYC, see:

Additional Resources

More Information