Skip to content

The #1 Thing You Should NOT Do If You Have COVID 

Don’t be a hero.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Getting COVID-19 even once (let alone multiple times!) should not be taken lightly, virus experts say—so if you do get infected, please don't behave as if it's business as usual. "You really want your body to recover," says Dr. Susan Cheng, a cardiologist, researcher and professor in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Give it as much rest as possible, to recover as fully as possible." Here is what you should never do if you have COVID, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Don't Power Through It

man experiencing high stress doing work, panic attack

If you have COVID-19, do not "work from home". Yes, being at home is better than being out there infecting other people, but lack of rest can make recovery significantly longer. Take time off and focus on getting well, doctors say. "Sleep equals immunity," says Dr. Cheng. "You want to have your immune system not distracted by anything else."


Sleep and Immune Health

woman sleeping peacefully

Sleep is crucial to immune health and recovery, experts say. "In any acute illness — and COVID especially — we know that rest is important. Getting adequate sleep lets the immune system rebalance," says Dr. Caitlin McAuley McAuley at the COVID Recovery Clinic at Keck Medicine of USC. "We often don't acknowledge the fact that when we're sick, we're not functioning appropriately mentally as well. So decision making may be impaired. At a minimum, you really should unplug for three to five days."


Don't Underestimate the Virus

Woman being sick having flu lying on sofa looking at temperature on thermometer. Sick woman lying in bed with high fever.

Even if your COVID-19 infection is mild, pay attention to how you actually feel. "People can do well for about 10 to 12 days and then get very sick," says Dr. Timothy Brewer, a UCLA professor of medicine and epidemiology. "Just because you did well in the first week doesn't mean you're necessarily going to do well in the second or third week. Your body is pretty good at telling you what it needs. So if you're feeling tired and you're sick with COVID, that's probably your body saying, 'Get back in bed.'"


Working From Home Makes it Hard To Rest

woman stressed with work

Working from home has become the norm for many people since the start of the pandemic—but the blurred lines between work and home life can make rest difficult. "Your labor is supposed to be flexible, but that's the underside — you don't always really control when you labor," says UC Santa Barbara professor Eileen Boris. "You think you're choosing to work, but are you? It's not like you can walk away from the office."


High-Profile Officials Working From Home

Doctor Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci is just one of many prominent figures who announced they would be working from home after getting infected with COVID. "It is a way of saying, 'I am still a powerful person who is able to continue doing my job,'" says Jaime Seltzer, director of scientific and medical outreach at the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Action Network. Seltzer believes the message should be: "when you become ill, you should be resting", and people who are sick shouldn't think they can push through fatigue the way healthy people can, "and wake up more or less feeling back to normal. But we have to recognize that when your immune system is being challenged … that's simply not true anymore. And we shouldn't expect ill bodies to behave like healthy bodies."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan