Home Isolation and Quarantine Guidance - Contact Tracing

UPDATE: Due to widespread vaccination against COVID-19, most of the previous State and County restrictions have been lifted, especially for fully vaccinated people.  For information regarding the currently applicable COVID-19 rules, please see the County’s ”Public Health Orders” webpage and the County’s “Public Health Orders Frequently Asked Questions” webpage, which also links to various State resources.

What is isolation? What is quarantine?

Both words mean staying home, without contact with others, for a certain period of time in order to prevent the spread of disease. “Isolation” is used for a person who has had a positive test result or symptoms and is likely contagious, and “quarantine” is used if a person was in close contact with someone who had a positive test result and might become contagious in the near future.

Everyone who is isolating or quarantining should:

  • Stay home
  • Separate yourself from others in your home
  • Do not allow visitors
  • Do not use public transportation
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others
  • If you are unable to isolate or quarantine safely at home, let the Santa Clara County COVID Support Team member know when they call you. They will work to assess your eligibility for housing, food, or other support services.

Depending on if you are in isolation or in quarantine, there are additional actions you should take below.

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When is a person with COVID-19 considered contagious?

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 is considered contagious starting 48 hours before symptoms began until at least 10 days after symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications (like Tylenol or ibuprofen) AND improvement of other symptoms. If a person who tests positive has NO symptoms, that person is considered contagious starting 48 hours before their first positive test was collected until 10 days after their first positive test was collected.

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Who is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes at any time beginning 48 hours before the infected person had symptoms or tested positive. Close contacts include people who had 15 minutes of continuous contact with the infected person, as well as people who had repeated short-duration interactions with the infected person.

In addition, while most face coverings reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, they have no impact on the determination of whether someone is a close contact and should quarantine ​

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Do you need to be tested for COVID-19?

The County of Santa Clara urges the public to get tested for COVID-19 when experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and whenever recommended by the California Department of Public Health’s Updated Testing Guidance. To find testing sites and schedule an appointment, please visit www.sccfreetest.org.

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What should I do while I'm waiting for test results?

If you were a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and have no symptoms, then follow the Home Quarantine Steps while you are waiting for your test results.

If you are not a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you just need to wait for your test results. You do not need to follow isolation or quarantine steps while you wait for your results.

If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, and they are new symptoms that you do not usually have in daily life, then you may have COVID-19 and you must follow the Home Isolation Steps, even if you are fully vaccinated.

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Home Isolation and Quarantine Guidance (revised 7/14/21)

PDF: | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog

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Home Isolation Steps: What should I do if I become positive or am told to isolate?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are symptomatic and waiting for COVID-19 test results, you must follow the Home Isolation Steps to prevent the spread of disease. This requirement applies regardless of vaccination status.

Stay home until you have recovered and are not infectious.

  • Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home.
  • Monitor your symptoms closely and seek medical care if symptoms worsen. It is particularly important to call your doctor if your symptoms get worse and you are 60 years or older or have a condition such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a weakened immune system. You are at higher risk of getting more seriously ill.
  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • If you have symptoms, you can be with others after:
    • 10 days since symptoms first appeared, AND
    • 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication), AND
    • Improvements of other symptoms
  • If you have no symptoms, you can be with others after:
    • 10 days have passed since your first positive test was collected

Close Contacts

  • If you have a test confirmation or doctor’s diagnosis of COVID-19, then everyone who you had close contact with from 48 hours before your symptoms began until your isolation period ends should follow the Home Quarantine Steps. Please share this page with them.
  • To request help in notifying your close contacts without revealing your identity to them, please call 408-970-2870.

What if you cannot separate yourself from others?

  • If you have COVID-19, anyone who continues to be in close contact with you when you are in isolation will need to extend their quarantine until 10 days from the day you finish isolating. This may last about 20 days.

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Home Quarantine Steps: What should I do if I find out that I’ve been in close contact with a case?

The applicable quarantine rules depend on whether you are fully vaccinated.  You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine

Note:  The vaccine must have been FDA-approved or authorized for emergency use by the FDA (e.g., Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson) or the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZenca/Oxford, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac).

When quarantine is NOT required:

Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine after being exposed to a case if they meet ALL the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated;
  • Have not had any COVID-19 symptoms since the COVID-19 exposure;
  • Are not an inpatient or resident in a healthcare setting or facility.

Fully vaccinated individuals should still monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after exposure and follow instructions as below if symptoms develop.

When quarantine is still required:

Fully vaccinated individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after being exposed to a case should still follow the General Quarantine Guidelines below. They should get tested and quarantine immediately if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If they test positive for COVID-19, they must follow standard guidance for isolation.  

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, even if they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, should continue to follow General Quarantine Guidelines below after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Even if the suspected or confirmed case is fully vaccinated, their close contacts should still follow standard testing and quarantine guidelines.  

Fully vaccinated healthcare workers should review the section on Managing Exposures Among Healthcare Workers on the County’s Provider Responsibilities and Guidance page for workplace-specific guidance based on their vaccination status. 

Fully vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings should continue to follow CDPH quarantine guidance for healthcare settings following an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; outpatients should be cared for using appropriate Transmission-Based Precautions.

General Quarantine Guidelines:

If you live in a household with or had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, you must follow these Home Quarantine Steps below unless you are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms. It can take up to 14 days to become ill if you become infected with COVID-19. You must monitor your own health during this time to prevent passing infection to anyone else. Unless you are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, you must stay home regardless of negative test results and continue to quarantine for the full 10-day period and keep monitoring for symptoms for a full 14 days after exposure.

Stay home because you may become contagious.

  • If you are unable to avoid close contact with the person with COVID-19, you must continue to stay in quarantine for 10 full days after their isolation period ends, unless you are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Quarantine starts when the case’s isolation period begins and ends 10 days after case’s isolation period. This could mean quarantine is required for 20 days or more.
  • You should get tested on Day 6 or later from last exposure to the person with COVID-19 if you don’t have symptoms (and immediately if you do have symptoms). Close contacts without symptoms may end quarantine after Day 10 from last exposure but should continue monitoring for symptoms for a full 14 days.​  If, for any reason, you get tested earlier than 6 days from the last time you were in close contact with a confirmed case, you should get tested again towards the end of your quarantined period.​Please find testing information here.
  • Close contacts who develop symptoms before Day 10, but who test negative, must remain in quarantine for at least 10 days AND until 24 hours after fever resolution and improvement in other symptoms, whichever is longer. Close contacts who develop symptoms between Days 11 and 14 but who test negative must remain in quarantine until 24 hours after fever resolution and improvement in other symptoms.
  • For Healthcare Workers, refer to the section on Managing Exposures Among Healthcare Workers on the County’s Provider Responsibilities and Guidance page.

What if you develop symptoms?

  • If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms you must follow the Home Isolation Steps, even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • Get tested as soon as possible.  (Visit the County’s “Free COVID-19 Testing Sites” webpage for more information.)​
  • Monitor your symptoms closely and seek medical care if your symptoms are severe or your symptoms worsen, especially if you are at a higher risk of serious illness. ​

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Do I need to quarantine after traveling?

The County’s Mandatory Directive on Travel and CDPH’s Travel Advisory have both been rescinded.  However, the County Health Officer still recommends that you follow the CDC’s guidance on domestic travel and international travel.

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If I have COVID-19, can I still breastfeed my child?

Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits to both infants and breastfeeding parents. However, because breastfeeding requires the parent and child to be less than 6 feet apart, if a parent has COVID-19, there is a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission from the parent to the infant.

The decision whether to breastfeed is a complex and personal one, and there are multiple options to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for the infant while continuing to breastfeed:

  • Consistently wear a face covering, perform frequent hand hygiene before and after breastfeeding, and reduce the total amount of time spent within 6 feet of the infant where possible.
  • Choose to pump and have another adult bottle-feed expressed breastmilk to the infant during the period the COVID+ parent is instructed to isolate. Performing frequent hand hygiene and following cleaning instructions for pump parts, bottles, and other feeding supplies may further reduce risk.
  • Pump to maintain lactation during the period the COVID+ parent is instructed to isolate, and have another adult bottle-feed formula to the infant (“pump and dump”).
  • Choose to stop breastfeeding during the isolation period to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, even though it may not be possible to breastfeed afterwards.

Some additional considerations for breastfeeding when the parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • Infants and children generally have been shown to have milder illness when sick with COVID-19 and have the lowest risk of death of any age group.
  • There is NO evidence that breastmilk itself can transmit COVID-19.
  • Masks and face coverings have been shown to significantly reduce respiratory droplets.

Talk to a doctor, nurse, or lactation consultant if you have specific questions about your circumstances and breastfeeding during COVID-19 infection.

Note:  Pregnant people are strongly urged to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. The CDC and FDA have not identified any safety concerns for pregnant people who are vaccinated or for their babies, but unvaccinated pregnant people are at particularly high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

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COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance for Healthcare Workers

For COVID-19 quarantine guidance relating to healthcare workers, please see the “Managing Exposures Among Healthcare Workers” Section of the County’s “Provider Responsibilities and Guidance” webpage.

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Returning to Work and School

PDF:  | English | Spanish | Vietnamese | Chinese | Tagalog​ |

If you have completed your isolation and quarantine period as told to you by the Public Health Department, you may no longer be considered contagious or at high risk for infection. The Public Health Department does not provide Return to Work or Work Excuse Letters for employees or employers or School Excuse Letters for students.  You may download and print this letter showing proof that you can return to work or school if you meet the criteria in the letter and that your employer or school should not request proof of a negative test.

If your employer is requiring your return to work prior to the end of the Isolation guidance or Quarantine guidance provided by your health care provider and the County’s Public Health Department, please contact the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement’s free legal advice line at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccfairworkplace.org to file a complaint.  Legal Advice Line attorneys are not County staff, and advice is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog.

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Isolation & Quarantine Support Program

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Support Team provides resources to County residents who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as contacts to a positive case to enable them to isolate or quarantine safely. For more information please visit our Isolation and Quarantine Support Program site.

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Contact Tracing Calls – What to Expect

Answer the call illustration

As a community, we need each and everyone one of us to do our part to slow the spread and keep our community healthy.

Your privacy is incredibly important to us, and any information you provide will only be used by the Public Health Department to ensure the health and safety of our community. You will never be asked for your social security number, financial information, or immigration status.


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What happens when a contact tracer calls me?

You may receive a text and then a call from 916-262-7553 with the caller identity as “CA COVID TEAM.” This is our County of Santa Clara COVID Support Team trying to reach you. You can help protect your family and friends by answering the call.

The goal of the call is to make sure you have everything you need to safely stay home and prevent exposure to others.

If you have tested positive, our COVID Support Team will confirm your identity, ask you how you are feeling, and ask a few key questions to help us learn about your case. We will then ask you to think about where you have been in the 48 hours before your symptoms started until now. If you have no symptoms, we will ask you to think back to 48 hours before your positive test was taken until now. We will ask about the people who were in close contact with you and may have been exposed.  Anyone who may have been exposed will be contacted to let them know of the exposure, while trying our best to keep your identity protected.

If you have been a close contact to someone during their contagious period, our COVID Support Team will confirm your identity and then notify you that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. We will provide information about when the exposure happened but not how or to whom, so that we can protect the identity of the person who was ill. We will answer your questions and advise that you be tested for COVID-19.

In order to stop the spread of the virus within your community, the most important thing you can do is answer our call and stay home if instructed to do so. If you have tested positive and are currently contagious or you have been exposed and could be contagious or become contagious soon, staying home will prevent others from getting infected. Our contact tracers are here to help you stay home safely and will talk to you about any help you need to stay home for the period we recommend.

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How do I know the call is real or a scam?

The call you receive will come from 916-262-7553, with a location as Sacramento. The Caller ID will say that it is the CA COVID Team calling you. When we reach you, we will say that we are calling from Santa Clara County and will verify your identity by asking your birthday. We do need to ask questions about where you have been and the people you have spent time with. 

The Santa Clara County COVID Support Team will never ask you for:

  • bank, credit card, or financial information;
  • money, gift cards, or money transfers;
  • Social Security numbers; or
  • immigration status.

If you want to double check that it is the Santa Clara County COVID Support Team calling you, you can hang up and call us back at 916-262-7553 to verify it is us calling. If you are using the number we called you on, you should be routed back to the contact tracer assigned to call you. You may also call us at 408-970-2870 to verify that the Public Health Department is trying to reach you. 

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