GDPH: What to do if you have or are exposed to COVID-19
What do I do if I have or suspect I may have COVID-19?
Click HERE to read the Georgia Department of Health’s administrative order issued March 23, 2020 in full.
On March 23, 2020 the Georgia Department of Health issued an administrative order mandating that persons who tested positive COVID-19 as well as those suspected of having COVID-19 self-isolate.
Those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19 are asked to quarantine.
This document outlines the protocols for isolation and/or quarantine of persons known to be infected with COVID-19, suspected of having COVID-19, and those exposed to someone with COVID-19. This document also includes proper procedures for discontinuation of home isolation after a full recovery. A brief summary is included below. Click the link above for the full text.
Staff members of the Georgia Health Department remain available at 866-PUB-HLTH (866-782-4584) to provide assistance and counseling to persons subject to this Administrative Order concerning their illness or exposure and their compliance with this Order.
Isolation- Persons with known or suspected COVID-19:
- Persons With Known COVID-19. Upon notification by a healthcare provider, public health official, or clinical laboratory of a positive laboratory-confirmed test for COVID-19, the person testing positive for COVID-19 shall immediately isolate himself or herself at home or another location approved by the Department.
- Persons With Suspected COVID-19. Upon notification by a healthcare provider or public health official of suspected COVID-19 infection based on symptoms and a known exposure to a person with COVID-19, the person with suspected COVID-19 infection shall immediately isolate himself or herself at home or another location approved by the Department.
- Each isolated person shall avoid unnecessary physical contact with any and all persons and shall comply fully with the Isolation Protocol below, which may be updated from time to time based on guidance from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.
- Each isolated person shall remain in isolation until such time as he or she no longer presents a risk of infection to the public, as determined by the Isolation Protocol then in effect. As of the date of this Administrative Order, the Isolation Protocol requires an isolated person to remain in isolation until either:
- the person’s fever has been gone for at least seventy-two (72) hours, without taking fever-reducing medication, and
- the person’s other symptoms have improved, and
- at least seven (7) days have elapsed from the date symptoms began,
- for a person who was placed under home isolation due to a laboratory-confirmed positive test result, but who has experienced no symptoms of COVID-19, until at least seven (7) days have elapsed since the date of the person’s first positive diagnostic test.
- Isolated persons should monitor their symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing, as instructed in the Isolation Protocol. An exception to the requirement for isolation applies in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or natural disaster, or if the person’s health condition worsens and he or she requires treatment in a healthcare facility.
- Each isolated person shall, to the extent practicable, provide notification of the isolated person’s COVID-19 status to those persons with whom the isolated person has been in close contact (within six (6) feet for a prolonged period of time) since symptoms began. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. At the request of state or local public health personnel, the isolated person shall provide a list of the locations visited by the isolated person during the time frame that he or she may have been able to transmit the disease.
What to do if you are sick with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 infection, or if a healthcare provider or public health official has told you that COVID-19 infection is suspected because you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, you must follow the home isolation instructions below. These steps will help prevent the disease from spreading to others in your household and community. You should also follow these instructions if you suspect that you have COVID-19, even if you do not have a known exposure. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.
Stay home except to get medical care
You must not go outside your home unless you need medical care or in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transportation, Uber/Lyft, or taxis. If seeking medical care, always call ahead to alert the healthcare provider that you have or may have COVID-19.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
As much as possible, you should stay in a different room from other people in your home. You should use a separate bathroom, if available. The CDC currently recommends keeping 6 feet between yourself and others, if possible. Prohibit visitors to your home as much as possible.
Wear a face mask
You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle), pets, and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a face mask if they enter your room.
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing with soap is not possible, use alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to thoroughly cover all surfaces of your hands, then rub until they feel dry. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose with unwashed hands. If you cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth.
Avoid sharing household items
You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water.
Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces frequently
If surfaces are dirty, clean them with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Labels contain instructions for
safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Monitor your symptoms
If you develop worsening symptoms (i.e., difficulty breathing) you should seek prompt medical attention. You must call your healthcare provider before seeking care and tell them that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. You must wear a facemask before entering the healthcare facility to protect other patients and staff from being exposed.
If you have a medical emergency, call 911. You must notify emergency services that you have COVID-19 infection. Put on a facemask if possible before emergency services arrive.
Quarantine- Persons With COVID-19 Exposure Likely to Result in Infection.
Upon notification by a healthcare provider, public health official, or isolated person of exposure to COVID-19 based on close contact (within six (6) feet for a prolonged period of time) with a person who must be isolated as provided herein, the person so exposed shall immediately quarantine himself or herself at home or another location approved by the Department.
- Each quarantined person shall remain at home or in the approved quarantine location for a period of fourteen (14) days from the person’s last known exposure to COVID-19. An exception to the requirement for quarantine applies in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or natural disaster, or if the person requires treatment in a healthcare facility. Health care providers, emergency medical services workers, and other first responders may continue to work, in consultation with their workplace occupational health program and if necessary to ensure adequate staffing, so long as they are asymptomatic, don masks while on duty, and comply with all other quarantine requirements for the duration of the fourteen (14) day period.
- During the period of quarantine, the quarantined person shall take his or her temperature twice per day and monitor any symptoms of respiratory illness. If at any time the quarantined person’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or if the quarantined person experiences cough or shortness of breath, the quarantined person shall be considered a person with suspected COVID-19 and shall follow the requirements for isolation set forth above.
- Staff members of the Department remain available at 866-PUB-HLTH (866-782-4584) to provide assistance and counseling to persons subject to this Administrative Order concerning their illness or exposure and their compliance with this Order. During the period of isolation or quarantine, the ability of persons subject to this Order to communicate with others outside the isolation or quarantine site, including their ability to exchange confidential communications with legal and medical advisors of their own choosing, will be preserved and facilitated to the extent possible without jeopardizing the integrity of the isolation or quarantine.
Failure to Comply:
Failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor offense pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 31-5-8. If the Department has reasonable grounds to believe that a person subject to quarantine or isolation refuses to comply with the requirements of this Order, the Department may provide information to law enforcement as necessary to ensure compliance and facilitate criminal prosecution.
Further, any person who refuses to isolate or quarantine himself or herself as required by this Order may be subject to further action by the Department, including a court order for involuntary detention in an appropriate facility other than the one specified above, or such other action as the Department may deem necessary to the protect the public’s health.
Discontinuing home isolation
You must remain under home isolation precautions until:
- you have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is, three full days of no fever without the use of a fever-reducing medicine); AND
- your other symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath, have improved;
- at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
If you were placed under home isolation due to a laboratory-confirmed positive test result but have experienced no symptoms of COVID-19, you may discontinue home isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of your first positive diagnostic test.
CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html
Contact information for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH): 1-866-PUB-HLTH (782-4584)