COVID-19 Exposure, But No Symptoms

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Is this your child's symptom?

  • Exposure (close contact) to a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  • Confirmed patients have a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Suspected patients are those whom a doctor suspects of having COVID-19, based on symptoms.
  • You or your child have no symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Care Guide Update: May 10, 2023, Version 20.

COVID-19 Disease: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Trusted Sources for Accurate Information: CDC and AAP
    • To meet the high demand for COVID-19 information, when possible, find your answers online. Here are the most reliable websites:
    • Always follow the most current CDC recommendations if they are different than those in this care guide.
  2. COVID-19 Symptoms:
    • The most common symptoms are sore throat, cough, headache and fever. Some patients progress to shortness of breath (trouble breathing).
    • Other common symptoms are chills, shivering (shaking), runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue (tiredness) and loss of smell or taste.
    • The CDC also includes the following less-common symptoms: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Some people may have very mild symptoms. Some can have no symptoms, but still spread the disease.
  3. COVID-19 Facts:
    • Incubation period: average 5 days (range 2 to 14 days) after coming in contact with the secretions of a person who has COVID-19. Incubation periods can vary depending on the variant.
    • No Symptoms, but Infected: some infected patients have no symptoms.
    • Mild Infections: most people with symptoms have a mild illness, much like normal flu or a bad cold. The symptoms usually last 2 weeks.
    • Severe Infections: In general, severe infection refers to patients who develop trouble breathing from viral pneumonia. Unvaccinated adults have the highest rate of this complication. Many of these need to be admitted to the hospital. People with complications generally recover in 3 to 6 weeks. Severe infections are very rare in people who are vaccinated. Older adults are at the greatest risk.
    • Deaths: children generally have a mild illness and recover quickly. Pediatric deaths are rare. Older adults, especially those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, obesity or weak immune systems, have the highest death rates.
    • Vaccine: safe and effective vaccines are available. At this time, vaccines and boosters have been tested and are FDA approved for 6 months and older.
    • Breakthrough cases are COVID-19 infections that happen despite vaccine protection. They are more common with new variants. Most do not cause any serious symptoms. The vaccine prevents almost all hospital admissions and deaths.
    • Booster Vaccines: the CDC recommends a booster shot for children after completing their primary series. Stay up to date by getting all recommended boosters when eligible.
    • Treatment: anti-viral treatments for COVID-19 are available. They are mainly used for high-risk patients and those who are hospitalized.
    • Prevention: the COVID-19 vaccine and booster are the best way to prevent serious infections.
  4. COVID-19 - How it is Spread:
    • COVID-19 is spread from person to person.
    • The virus spreads when respiratory droplets are produced when a person coughs, sneezes, shouts or sings. The infected droplets can then be inhaled by a nearby person or land on the surface of their eyes.
    • Most infected people also have respiratory secretions on their hands. These secretions get transferred to healthy people on doorknobs, faucet handles, etc. The virus then gets transferred to healthy people when they touch their face or rub their eyes.
    • These are how most respiratory viruses spread.

When to Call for COVID-19 Exposure, But No Symptoms

When to Call for COVID-19 Exposure, But No Symptoms

Self Care at Home

  • Close contact with COVID-19 patient more than 10 days ago AND NO cough, fever or trouble breathing. You can stop quarantine.
  • COVID-19 exposure, BUT no symptoms: home care instructions
  • COVID-19 testing, questions about
  • COVID-19 prevention, questions about

Self Care at Home

  • Close contact with COVID-19 patient more than 10 days ago AND NO cough, fever or trouble breathing. You can stop quarantine.
  • COVID-19 exposure, BUT no symptoms: home care instructions
  • COVID-19 testing, questions about
  • COVID-19 prevention, questions about

Care Advice

COVID-19 Exposure, but NO Symptoms

  1. Exposure and No Symptoms - Overview:
    • Although you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you do not currently have any symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms start within 10 days after the last exposure.
    • Since it's been less than 10 days, you are still at risk for coming down with COVID-19.
    • You need to watch for symptoms until 10 days have passed.
    • Stay at home and follow this medical advice.
  2. You Do Not Need to See Your Doctor
    • Your child does not have any symptoms. Exposed people don’t need to see a doctor.
    • You do need to get a COVID-19 test. See Testing section below.
    • If your child becomes sick and develops more than mild symptoms, you may need to see your doctor.
    • You can find the answers to most of your questions here or online.
  3. COVID-19 Testing: Who Needs It
    • Testing is widely available at doctor’s offices, retail clinics, drug stores and urgent care centers.
    • Diagnostic tests are performed on nasal or mouth secretions. The tests can tell us if you have a COVID-19 infection now. Timing is important on when to do this test:
      • With Symptoms. Get a test within 3 days of onset of symptoms.
      • Without Symptoms and a COVID-19 close contact. Get a test on day 5 after the last day of exposure.
    • If you have testing questions, call your doctor during office hours.
  4. Self-Monitor for COVID-19 Symptoms
    • The most common symptoms are sore throat, cough, headache and fever. Some patients progress to shortness of breath (trouble breathing).
    • Other common symptoms are chills, shivering (shaking), runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue (tiredness) and loss of smell or taste.
    • Less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • If any of these symptoms occur, get a COVID-19 test.
    • Early detection of symptoms and home isolation are the only ways to reduce spread of the disease.
  5. Home Quarantine is Not Needed for Those Exposed and Have NO Symptoms
    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
    • If no symptoms, get tested on day 5 after the last close contact with an infected person. If positive, will need to start Home isolation.
    • Children less than 2 years: stay at home for a full 10 days. Reason: they don’t wear masks.
    • Quarantine Questions for your Doctor:
      • Home quarantine can be complicated. A parent may need to return to work. Someone in the household may be elderly or have a serious medical problem.
      • If you have additional questions, call your doctor during office hours. Your doctor is the best resource for up-to-date information on COVID-19.
  6. Day 10 or Later After Close Contact and No Symptoms:
    • The COVID-19 infection starts within 14 days of an exposure.
    • If the exposed person has no symptoms of respiratory infection (such as fever or cough) during the 10 days after an exposure, they should be safe from getting COVID-19 from this exposure.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Fever occurs
    • Cough or trouble breathing occurs
    • Other symptoms of COVID-19 occur
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • You have other questions or concerns

COVID-19 Prevention

  1. COVID-19 Vaccine - Get Your COVID-19 Shot and Booster Shots:
    • Vaccines have saved more lives than any other public health action. They are the most powerful weapon we have against deadly infectious diseases. Follow the science.
    • Safe and effective vaccines and boosters are now available for people age 6 months and older.
    • Get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster(s). It could save your life and protect your family.
    • Vaccine Sites: find a nearby vaccine site at or call your doctor’s office.
  2. COVID-19 - How to Protect Yourself and Family from Catching It - The Basics:
    • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster(s) when eligible. It is your best protection against this serious infection.
    • Avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Consider wearing a face mask when community spread is high.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water (very important). Always do this before you eat.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water is not available. Remember: soap and water work better.
    • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean. Germs on the hands can get into your body this way.
    • Don't share glasses, plates or eating utensils.
    • Don't shake hands. Greet others with a smile and a nod.
  3. Social (Safe) Distancing and COVID-19 Prevention:
    • Avoid close contact with people known to have COVID-19 infection.
    • Social Distancing: try to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from anyone who is sick, especially if they are coughing. Avoid crowds, because you can’t tell who might be sick.
    • If COVID-19 becomes widespread in your community, try to stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from everyone outside your family unit.
    • Wear a mask when entering any public building or crowded outdoor area.
  4. Face Masks and COVID-19 Prevention:
    • Overview: face masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19 (and influenza). Reason: people with COVID-19 can have no symptoms, but still spread the virus.
    • Sick people should always wear a face mask, if you are around other people or need to leave the home. Example: for medical visits. Exception: patients with trouble breathing in a mask (CDC). Consider a loose face covering, such as a bandana.
    • Well people should still consider wearing a mask if:
      • You are in indoor public spaces (such as a church or a grocery store).
      • You are in a crowded outdoor setting (e.g., concert, music festival, rally).
      • You are traveling on a plane, bus, train, or other form of public transit.
      • You are in a transportation hub such as an airport or train station.
      • You must be around someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Age Limits: face coverings are not recommended for children less than 2 years (CDC).
  5. Keep Your Mind and Body Strong:
    • Get your body ready to fight the COVID-19 virus.
    • Get enough sleep (very important).
    • Keep your heart strong. Walk or exercise every day. Take the stairs. Caution: avoid physical exhaustion.
    • Think positive thoughts.
    • Stay well-hydrated.
    • Eat healthy meals. Avoid overeating to deal with your fears.
    • Avoid the over-use of anti-fever medicines. Fever fights infections and ramps up your immune system.

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Copyright 2000-2023 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.