You are considered a primary high-risk exposure to COVID-19 if you meet both of the following criteria:

  1. You were with the positive individual within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulatively within a 24 hour period.
  2. The above exposure occurred during their illness OR within the 48 hours prior to their symptoms presenting OR within the 48 hours prior to their positive COVID-19 test (if they were asymptomatic to testing).

Click here for different degrees of exposure.

Quarantine is the term used if you have a primary high-risk exposure to COVID-19.  It is the period of waiting to see if an individual will acquire the virus or not after an exposure. If you develop symptoms during this time or get a positive test result, your quarantine should transition to an isolation (see below). True high-risk exposure is being with the positive individual within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes cumulatively within a 24 hour period, AND also occurring during their illness OR within 48 hours of their symptoms presenting OR within 48 hours of their positive COVID-19 test if they were asymptomatic. The safest quarantine time is 14 days from your last exposure. You can shorten your quarantine time to 10 days without testing as long as you are symptomatic. A 7 day quarantine is also possible if you are asymptomatic AND you take a COVID-19 test with a negative result on the 5th day after your last exposure (PCR preferred).

“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 people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.” -CDC

Isolation is the term used when you are presumed positive or have tested positive for COVID-19 (even with no symptoms). Isolation times lasts 10 days from the start of your symptoms, or from the positive test date if you are asymptomatic.

“As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask. Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.” -CDC

Click here for the CDC “Quarantine and Isolation” site.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Test

  • Looks for genetic material that comes only from the virus.
  • Generally a nasal swab (best results), but can also be a throat swab or saliva test.
  • Results can take several hours to several days depending on lab capacity.
  • A PCR test is recommended for the best accuracy.
  • For a PCR test, POSITIVE results are reliable and NEGATIVE results are generally reliable.
  • The later the test is taken after an exposure, the more accurate the results.

Rapid Antigen Test

  • Identifies protein fragments (antigens) from the virus.
  • Nasal or throat swab.
  • Can be taken for quicker results (usually within minutes).
  • Less accurate with more false negatives. Ideally, negative results should be verified with a PCR test.
  • For a rapid antigen test, POSITIVE results are reliable but NEGATIVE results are NOT reliable.
  • For negative results, a repeat rapid antigen test 36 hours apart from the first increases accuracy.

Both tests detect current infections. In general, we recommend backing up a negative Rapid Antigen result with a PCR.

Antibody Test

  • Identifies antibodies that the body’s immune system has produced in response to the infection.
  • A blood draw is required for this test.
  • Usually takes a few days for results.
  • Should wait at least 1-2 weeks for better accuracy (high rate of false negatives if taken too early).
  • A positive test result at any time is reliable.

What an antibody test CAN tell you:

  • Past infection.

What an antibody test CANNOT tell you:

  • Current infection.
  • When infection occurred.
  • Which variant(s) you were infected with.
  • How many times you were infected.
  • Current level of immunity to infection (the presence of antibodies does not necessarily insure adequate protection against COVID-19 as there is wide variability).

There is low value in an antibody test other than if you are curious whether or not there may have been a COVID-19 infection in the past. Blue Fish does not recommend getting an Antibody Test.

The best time to test with a PCR (recommended) or Rapid Antigen test is 5 days or later after your last exposure to COVID-19. Fully vaccinated individuals can test 3-5 days or later after their last exposure. Later tests typically yield more accurate results. Testing too soon may result in a false negative.

You can also test as soon as you know you were exposed or as soon as you develop symptoms, but you may need to test again at the above recommended time if the test comes back negative.

An Antibody test should be taken 1-2 weeks after a presumed or verified infection. The immune system needs 1-2 weeks after an infection to produce antibodies. Testing sooner may result in a false negative.

If you test multiple times and you get both a positive and negative result, you should accept the positive result. False negatives are much more common and likely than a false positive. You should isolate 10 days based on the positive test. If you would like to discuss the possibility of a false positive, please speak with your doctor.

If you would like to take a COVID-19 isolation/quarantine Self-Assessment, click on  the link below. This COVID-19 Self-Assessment does not replace professional medical advice, but can guide you on quarantining and isolation guidelines. Parents should help answer for children. Each member of the family can take this Self-Assessment to determine their specific quarantine/isolation guidelines. You may retake this self-evaluation at anytime during your quarantine if circumstances change.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 911 or go to a pediatric emergency room.

By clicking the link below, you are acknowledging that this tool is used for guidance only and does not replace professional medical advice.