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If You Have COVID-19

If you have COVID-19, here are some useful reminders from the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) on how to take care of yourself and protect the community.

Tell Your Close Contacts

If you test positive, tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Stay Home If You Have COVID-19 (Isolate)

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, you are required to stay home, except to get medical care. This is known as “isolation.” To avoid infecting the people you live with, try to stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom.

When distancing is not possible, both you and the people you live with should wear high-quality masks. Avoid sharing items such as cups, towels, and utensils. More tips.
You must isolate at home for at least 5 days.

How to Count Days of Isolation

  • Day 0, first day of symptoms OR day the positive test was taken, whichever came first
  • Days 1-4, continue to isolate
  • Day 5, last day of isolation if asymptomatic or symptoms are improving (see next section).

Ending Isolation

When your home isolation ends depends on whether you had symptoms, how you feel, and your overall health status.  Here is guidance from the CDC on ending isolation

  • If you did NOT have symptoms, you can end isolation after at least 5 full days after your positive test. CPHD strongly recommends taking a home antigen test on Day 6 and receiving a negative result before ending home isolation.
  • If you had symptoms, but they are improving and you have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication), you can end isolation after 5 full days. CPHD strongly recommends taking a home antigen test on Day 6 and receiving a negative result before ending home isolation. If your rapid test is positive, you should continue to stay home. You may retest in 24-48 hours.

Take Precautions Through Day 10

  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
  • Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
  • Avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Monitor Your Health Every Day

If you are sick with COVID-19, here are some ways you can take care of yourself.

Get rest and stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol since it can dehydrate you.

Take over-the-counter medicines, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), to help you feel better.

Find out if you can get prescription medication or treatments. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and are age 55 and older (or have certain conditions that put you at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19), you may be eligible for free medical treatments

Stay in touch with your doctor
  • Find out if you are eligible for medical treatments (see above).
  • Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.

Learn More

COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment (Massachusetts Department of Public Health) 
Posted on May 25, 2022



Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

Hours: Monday-Friday:
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
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Derrick Neal
Chief Public Health Officer



Cambirdge Health Alliance

Cambridge City
City of Cambridge