Viral Respiratory Infections: COVID-19, Flu, RSV, and Others

When you may have a respiratory virus...‎ 

Stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick) if you have respiratory virus symptoms that aren't better explained by another cause or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, flu, or another respiratory virus. Symptoms can include fever or feeling feverish, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough, headache, chest discomfort, muscle or body aches or weakness, fatigue (tiredness), decrease in appetite or vomiting or diarrhea, and/or loss of taste or smell.

  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing or chest pain), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • When isolating at home and for 5 days after leaving isolation, take steps for cleaner air; such as opening windows and doors, switching your heating and air-conditioning fan from “Auto” to “On,” using a portable HEPA filter in the ill person’s room, and having group activities outdoors.
  • You can go back to your normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

      • Your symptoms are getting better overall, and
      • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication)

  • You may still be able to spread the virus that made you sick, even if you are feeling better. You are likely to be less contagious at this time, depending on factors like how long you were sick and how sick you were. Consider the following added precautions for the first 5 days after you return to normal activities, especially if you have family or friends with increased risk of severe illness from respiratory viruses. This includes young children, older or pregnant adults, and people with serious medical conditions (like heart disease or diabetes), weakened immune systems, or disabilities.

    • Wear a mask and encourage others to do the same, to lower the risk of respiratory virus transmission.
    • Put physical distance between yourself and others. There is no single number that defines a “safe” distance, since spread of viruses can depend on many factors.
    • Practice good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
    • Test for respiratory viruses to help you decide what to do next. A negative COVID at-home or antigen test after a positive COVID test can indicate that you are less likely to be contagious to others.
  • If you develop a fever or you start to feel worse after you have gone back to normal activities, stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

    • Your symptoms are getting better overall AND
    • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).
  • If you never had symptoms but tested positive for a respiratory virus:

    • You may be contagious. For the next 5 days take the additional precautions listed above.