COVID-19: Symptoms and Care

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms. Some people do not have any symptoms.

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with the following symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms and recover on their own. Less commonly, COVID-19 may lead to breathing problems, other severe complications, hospitalization or death.

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, stay home. Do not leave home except to get essential medical care (including testing for COVID-19) or to get basic needs such as groceries, if someone can not get them for you.

Learn when and how you should get tested for COVID-19.

If you tested positive and are not sick enough to be in the hospital, monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 could help you reduce symptoms and avoid hospitalization.

Getting Care and Staying Safe at Home

When to Call 911

You should go to an emergency room or call 911 immediately if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • New confusion or inability to stay awake
  • Blue lips or face
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Sudden face drooping
  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Seizure
  • Any sudden and severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea

This is not a complete list. If you are concerned you may be experiencing a medical emergency, contact your provider immediately or call 911.

When to Contact a Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider if you have COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you are an older adult, pregnant or have health conditions that put you at increased risk for severe illness.

Call, text, use telemedicine or use your patient portal to contact your health care provider. If you need help getting medical care, call 311. You can get care in NYC regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

When You Are Sick and Staying Home

If you are sick, stay home as much as possible. Do not go to school or to work, even if you are an essential worker. Only leave home to get essential medical care or to get basic needs such as groceries, if you have no other way to get them.

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 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.

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.

When taking medicine, remember that many products to treat fever, cough and other symptoms contain the same active ingredient, and you could be taking too much if you take more than one medicine. Follow the recommended dosage on the medicine label.

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

When You Are Sick and Need to Leave Home

If you need to leave your home to see a health care provider or to get medicine or groceries:

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

  • Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.

  • Wash your hands before going out and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer while outside your home.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with your arm or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

  • Avoid other people as much as possible — walk if you can and do not enter crowded stores or transportation.

When You Need a Hotel for Isolation

New Yorkers who test positive for COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the virus can qualify for a free hotel room for up to 10 days to safely separate and protect their loves ones. You may be eligible to stay in a Take Care Hotel even if you have not received your COVID-19 test results or a call from a contact tracer.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, separate from others immediately. COVID-19 transmission is common in households and can happen fast among families and roommates living together.

For more information:

When You Are Feeling Better

You can leave home when all the following are true:

  • It has been at least 10 days since your symptoms started.

  • You have not had a fever for the last 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs.

  • Your overall illness has improved.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 by a swab or saliva diagnostic test but have never had symptoms, stay home for 10 days from the date you were tested.

When You Have "Long COVID" Symptoms

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