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5 Ways You Might Have Caught COVID, According to the CDC

If you’ve been in “close contact” with someone, then take the following precautions.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Woman in a disposable face mask is checking a shopping list on a smartphone in a supermarket

With record coronavirus cases and deaths daily, it can feel like COVID-19 is around every corner, coming to get you. If you've left yourself exposed, it might. "People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months"—should quarantine, says the CDC. But how do you know if you might have been exposed? One way is to think if you've had any close contact with someone who has COVID. Read on to see what the CDC says—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

1

First of All, Assume Anyone May Have COVID-19

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If you and those you shelter with have agreed to take measures to reduce risk, there is still risk. Some experts even recommend you wear a face mask indoors in your own home. However, the CDC only recommends quarantining—"stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department"— if the following has happened.

2

You Were Within 6 Feet of Someone Who Has COVID-19 For a Total of 15 Minutes or More

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It sounds self-explanatory. However, this "someone" may not exhibit any symptoms: "Approximately 20% of asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 will remain symptom-free over time, according to two studies published September 22 in different journals," according to Medscape. Better, then, to assume anyone you're talking to may have COVID, and stay at a distance.

3

You Provided Care at Home to Someone Who is Sick With COVID-19

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You've heard the horror stories: Mom has coronavirus and is locked in the bedroom, while her daughters wonder why she can't come out. The reason why is, if Dad is exposed, the whole family may catch COVID. "Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible)," advises the CDC. "Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others."

4

You Had Direct Physical Contact With the Person (Hugged or Kissed Them)

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Again, distance is key to stopping the spread. "Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person," says the CDC.

5

You Shared Eating or Drinking Utensils

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"COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets," says the CDC. "These droplets are released when someone with COVID-19 sneezes, coughs, or talks. Infectious droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs." Share silverware and you are potentially spoon-feeding someone COVID—don't do it.

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors

6

They Sneezed, Coughed, or Somehow Got Respiratory Droplets on You

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"A physical distance of at least 1 meter (3 ft) between persons is suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) to avoid infection, although some WHO member states have recommended maintaining greater distances whenever possible," says the CDC. "Respiratory droplets can land on hands, objects or surfaces around the person when they cough or talk, and people can then become infected with COVID-19 from touching hands, objects or surfaces with droplets and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth."

7

What to Do if You Had Close Contact with Someone

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Says the CDC: "Stay home and monitor your health

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19."

And no matter what, follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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