The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a virus. Symptoms may include a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath. It can spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing, breathing, and singing. The virus also can spread when people are in close contact with someone who is infected.

Most people have mild symptoms and can take care of themselves at home with medicine to reduce symptoms. Talk to your doctor. They might have you take medicine to help prevent serious illness. If your symptoms get worse, you may need care in a hospital. Treatment may include medicines, plus breathing support such as oxygen therapy or a ventilator.

It's important to not spread the virus to others. If you have COVID-19, wear a mask anytime you are around other people. Isolate yourself while you are sick. Leave your home only if you need to get medical care or testing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Get extra rest. It can help you feel better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. This helps replace fluids lost from fever. Fluids may also help ease a scratchy throat.
  • You can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce a fever. It may also help with muscle and body aches. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use petroleum jelly on sore skin. This can help if the skin around your nose and lips becomes sore from rubbing a lot with tissues. If you use oxygen, use a water-based product instead of petroleum jelly.
  • Keep track of symptoms such as fever and shortness of breath. This can help you know if you need to call your doctor. It can also help you know when it's safe to be around other people.
  • In some cases, your doctor might suggest that you get a pulse oximeter.

How can you self-isolate when you have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, there are things you can do to help avoid spreading the virus to others.

  • Limit contact with people in your home. If possible, stay in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom.
  • Wear a mask when you are around other people.
  • If you have to leave home, avoid crowds and try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Avoid contact with pets and other animals.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then throw it in the trash right away.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze. Use soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don't share personal household items. These include bedding, towels, cups and glasses, and eating utensils.
  • Wash laundry in the warmest water allowed for the fabric type, and dry it completely. It's okay to wash other people's laundry with yours.
  • Clean and disinfect your home. Use household cleaners and disinfectant wipes or sprays.

When can you end self-isolation for COVID-19?

If you know or think that you have the virus, you will need to self-isolate. When you can be around other people you live with and leave home depends on if you have symptoms. Important: Day 0 is the day your symptoms started or the day you tested positive. Day 1 is the day after your symptoms first started or your test was positive. Isolation starts on Day 0.

If you have symptoms, you can end isolation at the end of Day 5 if you haven't had a fever for 24 hours while not taking medicines to lower the fever and your symptoms are getting better.

If you tested positive but have NO symptoms, you can end isolation at the end of Day 5. But if you start to have symptoms, follow the steps above. Use Day 0 as your first day of symptoms.

You may take a COVID-19 test at the end of Day 5. If it is positive, continue to isolate until the end of Day 10. This is especially important if you have a weakened immune system.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if you have life-threatening symptoms, such as:

  • You have severe trouble breathing. (You can't talk at all.)
  • You have constant chest pain or pressure.
  • You are severely dizzy or lightheaded.
  • You are confused or can't think clearly.
  • You have pale, gray, or blue-colored skin or lips.
  • You pass out (lose consciousness) or are very hard to wake up.
  • You have loss of balance or trouble walking.
  • You have trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
  • You have weakness or drooping on one side of the face.
  • You have weakness or numbness in an arm or a leg.
  • You have trouble speaking.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have a seizure.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have moderate trouble breathing. (You can't speak a full sentence.)
  • You are coughing up blood.
  • You have signs of low blood pressure. These include feeling lightheaded; being too weak to stand; and having cold, pale, clammy skin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You are not getting better as expected.
  • You have new or worse symptoms of anxiety, depression, nightmares, or flashbacks.

Call before you go to the doctor's office. Follow their instructions. And wear a mask.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter C007 in the search box to learn more about 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Care Instructions'.