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DENVER (KDVR) — As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the country, many are still confused by what happens after you’re exposed to someone with the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention says the incubation timeline for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. That means once someone has been exposed, they can test positive any time during that 14 day incubation period.

The New Mexico Department of Health released a great graphic explaining how the incubation works:

  • Day 0: Ashley is exposed to COVID-19
  • Day 4: Ashley learns she was exposed to COVID-19 and self isolates.
  • Day 5: Ashley got tested for COVID-19 and her results came back negative
  • Day 8: Thinking she doesn’t have COVID-19, Ashley goes to work and a small family gathering. She has no symptoms but is actually positive. She has now exposed 11 people to COVID-19.
  • Day 10: Ashley became symptomatic and gets tested again. She is now positive for COVID-19.
New Mexico Department of Health

The CDC has recommended canceling Thanksgiving travel and gatherings due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Here are the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

What should I do if I’ve had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, 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.

What is close contact?

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

What should I do during quarantine?

  • 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

When do I start or end my quarantine if I’ve been exposed?

  • You should stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19, according to the CDC:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Afraid to get tested because of missing work?

According to the Colorado COVID-19 dashboard, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, it is important for you to know that worker protections are in place to ensure that you can isolate yourself, both for your own health and recovery and for the safety of everyone around you. 
Federal law requires up to two weeks paid leave for those who work for employers with fewer than 500 employees (though some employers with 50 or fewer employees may be exempt). The Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (“Colorado HELP Rules”) adds coverage for workers as well. Read more in the FAQ.

Additionally, there are many resources available to help you if you need to isolate or quarantine, including help with food and personal financial help.

Where can I get tested?