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Home Isolation and Quarantine Guidance - Contact Tracing

The goals of case investigation and contact tracing are to support individuals who may be positive for COVID-19 to safely stay home and slow the spread of COVID-19 among their family, friends, and community.  This strategy involves a partnership with individuals to answer our calls, to isolate or quarantine at home based on the guidance below. “Isolation” is used for a person who has had a positive test result and is likely contagious, and “quarantine” is used if a person was in close contact with someone who had a positive test result and might become contagious in the near future. Both words mean staying home, without contact with others, for a certain period of time in order to prevent the spread of disease.

Home Isolation and Quarantine Guidance (revised 9/18/2020)

PDF:  | English​ | Chinese​ | Spanish​ | Vietnamese​ | Tagalog |


Do you need to be tested for COVID-19?

Anyone experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms below should get tested, whether or not you had close-contact to someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

  • Fever or chills 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Headache 
  • Sore throat 
  • Loss of taste or smell 
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting ​

Anyone not experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms above but who has been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 should get tested around day 7 after exposure. If testing is done earlier than 7 days after the last exposure to COVID positive person, you should repeat testing towards the end of the 14 day quarantine period.​

The Public Health Department is also recommending testing for the following groups of people even if they do not have any symptoms:

  • Any front line or healthcare worker who regularly interacts with members of the public and cannot maintain social distancing at work should ideally get tested once a month.
  • This may include those who work in healthcare, homeless shelters, jails and other custodial settings, food banks, public safety/emergency response, food service, grocery, construction, delivery, janitorial, transit, or social work, among other jobs.

This does not include those who are able to maintain social distancing while at work, such as essential workers who work in a back office. 

Any person who works in a skilled nursing facility should ideally get tested every two weeks.

To find more information about who should be tested and to find testing sites, visit


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What should I do while I'm waiting for test results?

If you If you were a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and have no symptoms, then follow the Quarantine Steps while you are waiting for your test results.

If you are not a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, you just need to wait for your test results. You do not need to follow Isolation or Quarantine Steps.

If you develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms, and they are new symptoms that you do not usually have in daily life, then you may have COVID-19 and you must follow the Home Isolation Steps​.


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Who is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes at any time beginning 2 days before the infected person had symptoms or tested positive.  Close contacts include people who had 15 minutes of continuous contact with the infected person, as well as people who had repeated short-duration interactions with the infected person.  In addition, while face coverings do reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, they have no impact on the determination of whether someone is a close contact and should quarantine.​


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When is a person with COVID-19 considered contagious?

A person who tests positive for COVID-19 is considered contagious starting 48 hours before symptoms began until at least 10 days after symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications (like Tylenol or ibuprofen) AND improvement of other symptoms. If a person who tests positive has NO symptoms, that person is considered contagious starting 48 hours before their first positive test was collected until 10 days after their first positive test was collected. 

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What is isolation? What is quarantine?

Both words mean staying home, without contact with others, for a certain period of time in order to prevent the spread of disease. “Isolation” is used for a person who has had a positive test result and is likely contagious, and “quarantine” is used if a person was in close contact with someone who had a positive test result and might become contagious in the near future.

Everyone who is isolating or quarantining should:

  • Stay Home
  • Separate yourself from others in your home
  • Do not allow visitors
  • Do not use public transportation
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others
  • Limit contact with pets
  • If you are unable to isolate or quarantine safely at home, let the Santa Clara County COVID Support Team member know when they call you. They will work to assess your eligibility for housing, food, or other support services.

Depending on if you are in Isolation or in Quarantine, there are additional actions you should take below.


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Home Isolation Steps: What should I do if I become positive or am told to isolate?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are waiting for COVID-19 test results, you must follow the Home Isolation Steps to prevent the spread of disease.

Stay home until you have recovered and are not infectious

  • Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home.
  • Monitor your symptoms closely and seek medical care if symptoms worsen. It is particularly important to call your doctor if your symptoms worsen and  you are 60 years or older or have a condition such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a weakened immune system. You are at higher risk of getting more seriously ill.
  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • If you have symptoms, you can be with others after:
    • 10 days since symptoms first appeared, AND
    • 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication), AND
    • Improvements of other symptoms
  • If you have no symptoms, you can be with others after:
    • 10 days have passed since your first positive test was collected

Close Contacts

  • If you have a test confirmation or doctor’s diagnosis of COVID-19, then everyone who you had close contact with from 48 hours before your symptoms began until you self-isolated should follow the Home Quarantine Steps. Please share this page with them.
  • To request help in notifying your Close Contacts without revealing your identity to them, please call 408-970-2870.

What if you cannot separate yourself from others?

  • If you have COVID-19, anyone who continues to be in close contact with you when you are in isolation will need to extend their quarantine until 14 days from the day you finish isolating. This may last about 24 days.


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Home Quarantine Steps: What should I do if I find out that I’ve been in close contact with a case?

If you live in a household with or had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 (including contact from 48 hours before that person had any symptoms, until they self-isolated) you must follow these Home Quarantine Steps below. It can take up to 14 days to become ill if you become infected with COVID-19. You must stay home and monitor your own health during this time to prevent passing infection to anyone else. You must stay home regardless of negative test results and continue to quarantine for the full 14-day period.

Stay home because you may become contagious

  • If you are unable to avoid close contact with the person with COVID-19, you must continue to stay in quarantine for 14 full days. Quarantine starts when the case’s isolation period begins and ends 14 days after case’s isolation period. This could mean quarantine for 24 days.
  • Get tested immediately if you currently have symptoms or if you become symptomatic during quarantine. If you have no symptoms, you should get tested around 7 days after your last contact to a confirmed case.  If for any reason, you get tested earlier than 7 days from the last time you were in close contact with a confirmed case, you should get tested again towards the end of your quarantined period.​ Please find testing information here.

What if you develop symptoms?

  • If you develop any of the COVID symptoms you must follow the Home Isolation Steps​.
  • Get tested as soon as possible. Testing Resources​
  • Monitor your symptoms closely and seek medical care if your symptoms are severe or your symptoms worsen, especially if you are at a higher risk of serious illness. ​

Which groups may need to follow different quarantine instructions?

If you are in one of the following sectors (Fire Departments; Law Enforcement and Community Corrections; 9-1-1 Dispatch; Healthcare Delivery) and compliance with the Public Health Department’s isolation and quarantine guidance would compromise your continuity of service, you should contact your employer for additional guidance.


Returning to Work and School

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If you have completed your isolation and quarantine period as told to you by the Public Health Department, you may no longer be considered contagious or at high risk for infection. The Public Health Department does not provide Return to Work or Work Excuse Letters for employees or employers or School Excuse Letters for students.  You may download and print this letter showing proof that you can return to work or school if you meet the criteria in the letter and that your employer or school should not request proof of a negative test.

If your employer is requiring your return to work prior to the end of the Isolation guidance or Quarantine guidance provided by your health care provider and the County’s Public Health Department, please contact the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement’s free legal advice line at 1-866-870-7725 or visit to file a complaint.  Legal Advice Line attorneys are not County staff, and advice is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Tagalog.

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If I have COVID-19, can I still breastfeed my child?

Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits to both infants and breastfeeding parents, but because in most circumstances breastfeeding requires the parent and child to be less than 6 feet apart, if a parent has COVID-19, there is a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission from the parent to the infant.

The decision whether to breastfeed is a complex and personal one, and there are multiple options to reduce the risk of COVID for the infant while continuing to breastfeed:

  • A parent may choose to continue breastfeeding during the period they are contagious with COVID-19 and reduce risk to the infant by consistently wearing a face covering, performing frequent hand hygiene before and after breastfeeding, and reducing total amount of time spent within 6 feet of the infant where possible.
  • A breastfeeding parent may choose to pump and have another adult bottle-feed expressed breastmilk to the infant during the period the COVID+ parent is instructed to isolate. Hand hygiene and following cleaning instructions for pump parts, bottles, and other feeding supplies may further reduce risk.
  • Another option is to pump to maintain lactation during the period the COVID+ parent is instructed to isolate and have another adult bottle-feed formula to the infant (“pump and dump.”)
  • Finally, a parent may choose to stop breastfeeding during the period they are in isolation for COVID-19 in order to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, even though they may not be able to breastfeed afterwards.

Some additional considerations for breastfeeding when the parent has been diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • Infants and children generally have been shown to have milder illness when sick with COVID-19 and have the lowest risk of death of any age group.
  • There is NO evidence that breastmilk itself can transmit COVID-19.
  • Masks and face coverings have been shown to significantly reduce respiratory droplets

Talk to a doctor, nurse, or lactation consultant if you have specific questions about your circumstances and breastfeeding during COVID-19 infection.


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Isolation & Quarantine Support Services

Please call 408-808-7770 to make a referral.
The referral hotline is available 7 days/week, 8 am – 5 pm.

PDF:  | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog​ |

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Support Team provides resources to County residents who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as contacts to a positive case to enable them to isolate or quarantine safely. There are three main components to the program:  

The first component consists of a motel with supportive services for cases and contacts who cannot safely isolate or quarantine at home or who do not have a home. At this hotel, the County offers limited case management services, three meals per day and laundry services. Medical and behavioral health staff perform wellness checks weekly and connect individuals to social services, medical and behavioral health services based on their needs. Transportation to and from the motel to initiate or conclude isolation or quarantine can be provided. Once the isolation or quarantine period is complete, the Program staff assist participants to return to their homes or transition to appropriate and available congregate and non-congregate shelter settings. 

The second component provides support services for persons who can isolate and quarantine at home, but who need some assistance. The supportive services are similar to what is provided at the motel. Most participating households need help buying groceries and cleaning supplies. 

The *third component of the Program is rental and utility bills specifically for individuals and families participating in this Program. Each household may be eligible for up to $5,000. *Individuals must qualify based on income of 80% AMI (Area Median Income) or less. 

This service is available to individuals who have tested positive for COVID or have been exposed to COVID and need to isolate and quarantine due to exposure.  


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Contact Tracing Calls – What to Expect

Answer the call

As a community, we need each and everyone one of us to do our part to slow the spread and keep our community healthy.

Your privacy is incredibly important to us, and any information you provide will only be used by the Public Health Department to ensure the health and safety of our community. You will never be asked for your social security number, financial information, or immigration status.


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What happens when a contact tracer calls me?

You may receive a text and then a call from 916-262-7553 with the caller identity as “CA COVID TEAM.” This is our County of Santa Clara COVID Support Team trying to reach you. You can help protect your family and friends by answering the call.

The goal of the call is to make sure you have everything you need to safely stay home and prevent exposure to others.

If you have tested positive, our COVID Support Team will confirm your identity, ask you how you are feeling, and ask a few key questions to help us learn about your case. We will then ask you to think about where you have been in the 48 hours before your symptoms started up until now. If you have no symptoms, we will ask you to think back to the 48 hours before when your positive test was taken up until now. We will ask about the people that you were in close contact with may have been exposed.  We will let anyone that may have been exposed know that they have been exposed, while trying our best to keep your identity protected.

If you have been a close contact to someone during the period they are contagious, our COVID Support Team will confirm your identity and then notify you that you have been exposed to COVID-19. We will provide information about when the exposure happened but not how or to whom, so that we can protect the identity of the person who was ill. We will answer your questions and advise that you be tested for COVID-19.

In order to stop the spread of the virus within your community, the most important thing you can do is answer our call and stay home if instructed to do so, either because you have tested positive and are currently contagious or because you have been exposed and could be contagious or become contagious soon. Our contact tracers are here to help you stay home safely and will talk to you about any help you need to stay home for the period we recommend.


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How do I know the call is real or a scam?

The call you receive will come from 916-262-7553, with a location as Sacramento. The Caller ID will say that it is the CA COVID Team calling you. When we reach you, we will say that we are calling from Santa Clara County and will verify your identity by asking your birthday. We do need to ask questions about where you have been and the people you have spent time with. 

The Santa Clara County COVID Support Team will never ask you for:

  • bank, credit card, or financial information;
  • money, gift cards, or money transfers;
  • Social Security numbers; or
  • immigration status.

If you want to double check that it is the Santa Clara County COVID Support Team calling you, you can hang up and call us back at 916-262-7553 to verify it is us calling. If you are using the number we called you on, you should be routed back to the contact tracer assigned to call you. You may also call us at 408-970-2870 to verify that the Public Health Department is trying to reach you. 


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Last updated: 11/3/2020 10:18 AM