WebMD BlogsPublic Health

'Can You Be Around Someone With COVID-19 and Not Get It?'

women masks illustration
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNOctober 21, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

What happens if someone in your household, or someone you’ve just recently spent time with, tests positive for COVID-19? You’re guessing they were probably (unknowingly) contagious when you were with them, and you wonder: Can you be around someone with COVID-19 and not get it?

Yes! While it’s true your risk of getting sick goes up whenever you come in contact with someone who has the virus, it is possible to avoid coming down with COVID-19 even if you are (or have been) around someone who has it.

Getting infected by SARS-CoV-2 requires close contact over a sustained period of time (generally more than 15 minutes). Just because you come in contact with someone who has or had the virus does not automatically mean you’ll become infected. Lots of things affect whether or not a person exposed to a virus gets sick from it: the ventilation of the space, how robust your immune system is, how many people inside the space were exhaling viral particles. All of these things (and more) can influence whether you get sick from an exposure.

If you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself for 14 days following the contact and monitor any symptoms that develop. If testing is available near you, get tested (opt for the PCR test -- not the rapid test -- if possible), but not until 4-5 days after exposure (tests are not good at picking up the virus any sooner than that) or if you develop symptoms.

If the infected person lives with you, take precautions to minimize further exposure The sick person should immediately isolate themselves for at least 10 days in a designated space, such as their bedroom. Help them avoid the need to leave the sick room by checking in on them frequently using your phone. Wear masks if you must interact. Leave food and drink outside their door, handle their laundry carefully, clean surfaces frequently, and follow other guidelines for taking care of a sick person at home. In the event you do develop COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

Because COVID-19 is contagious even if someone is not showing symptoms (or not yet), it’s possible that someone you’ve spent time may have unknowingly been infected. If you practice strict social distancing guidelines, wear masks whenever you must interact, and clean shared surfaces frequently, you may be able to escape infection yourself.




WebMD Blog
© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

More from the Public Health Blog

  • vitamin d supplement

    'What's the Best Time of Day to Take Vitamins?'

    Knowing what time of day to take your vitamin and mineral supplements can help you maximize their effectiveness and avoid dangerous interactions.

  • man sore throat

    'Does a Sore Throat Mean I'm Sick?'

    If your only symptom is a sore throat, it may not be anything to get worked up about. But, how do you know if you need to call a doctor?

View all posts on Public Health

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More