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What to Do If You Are A Close Contact

August 11, 2021

What To Do If You Are a Close Contact

DHS Quarantine_12-8-20

Vilas County Public Health Department has updated quarantine guidance for close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19, in response to the guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. A 14-day quarantine remains the safest option if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19.

Other options besides a 14-day quarantine:
  • Close contact is fully vaccinated (it’s been 2 weeks since completing their single or two dose vaccine series) and not having symptoms. No quarantine needed.
  • Close contact tested positive for COVID-19 less than 90 days ago and is not having symptoms. No quarantine is needed. (*Testing positive means a positive PCR test or a positive antigen test with symptoms).
  • Close contact tests positive for COVID-19. LCHD will call with new release date.
  • Close contact does not develop symptoms, can end their quarantine:
    • After completing day 10 of quarantine without testing. 
    • After completing day 7 of quarantine and receiving a negative test result (molecular or antigen) that was collected on day 6 or 7 of your quarantine period 

Important note for household contacts: You will have a longer quarantine period, as your 14 day quarantine, or the shortened quarantine time if criteria is met, begins on the last day of isolation for the positive case in your home.  

Individuals must continue to monitor symptoms for the full 14 days. If symptoms develop following the end of quarantine, individuals are advised to immediately isolate, contact their health care provider, and get tested. 

*High-risk, congregate settings such as long-term care facilities, shelters, jails, and prisons must determine on a case-by-case basis whether the potential benefits of shortened quarantine outweigh the risks of post-quarantine transmission.

It is important to note that some worksites, organizations, or schools might have stricter policies than the new DHS guidelines. 

Quarantine means:

  • Physical distance yourself from others, especially those in your home.
  • Do not go to work, school, or public places during this period.
  • Monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days of quarantine.
  • Discuss your exposure with your employer.
  • If you develop symptoms, testing is recommended. Visit our testing page for a list of testing opportunities.

You are a “close contact” if any of the following situations happened while you spent time with the person with COVID-19 (even if they didn’t have symptoms):

  • Had direct physical contact with the person (ex: hug, kiss, handshake)
  • Were within 6 feet of the person for more than 15 minutes or more within 24 hours.
  • Had contact with the person’s respiratory secretions (ex: coughed or sneezed on, contact with dirty tissue, sharing a drinking glass, food or towels or other personal items).
  • Stayed overnight for at least one night in a household with the person.
  • It’s important to remember that someone who is sick with COVID-19 can spread it two days before they show symptoms. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have symptoms, but they may still spread it to others.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure and monitor for symptoms. If you are not fully vaccinated, you will also need to quarantine to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

The incubation period for SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can extend up to 14 days. That means you can develop symptoms of COVID-19 sometime in the 14 days after close contact with a person with COVID-19. This is why a 14 day quarantine continues to be the safest and recommended quarantine strategy for people who are not fully vaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine but you should wear a mask in public indoor spaces for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result. For more information:

Resources: DHS Next Steps: Close Contacts of Someone Diagnosed with COVID-19 (English) (Spanish), Negative COVID-19 Test Results: What Does It Mean? (English) (Spanish) WI DHS COVID-19: Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines (English) (Spanish) WI DHS I've Already Had COVID-19: Do I Need to Isolate or Quarantine Again? (English) (Spanish) 

WI Exposure Notification

WI Exposure Notification lets you keep others safe and alerts you faster if you've been in close contact with someone who has #COVID19, all while protecting your information. Download or enable the app on your Android phone or iPhone, and learn more at

DHS - App