I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms. Why do I have to stay home?

Even if you don’t feel sick, it’s still important to practice good hand hygiene and social distancing, because in many cases people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but are still contagious

There is a window of time before people start to feel sick with COVID-19 when they can transmit the virus to others. Those who eventually go on to develop symptoms can transmit the virus for 48 hours before they feel ill. In fact, from what we know so far, between 18% to 30% of people who are infected never have symptoms. It’s hard to believe, but people without symptoms, or who have very mild symptoms, may cause upwards of 80% of infections.

Is there a way to know if you have COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms? Currently, the only way to know for sure is with a laboratory test, but in most cases testing is only available to people with symptoms or to those who have been exposed. So even if you feel just fine, don’t spread the virus! Stay home, wash your hands, and help keep others safe.

Last updated: March 18, 2020 10:00 pm ET
Science review by: ERS, GSN, JAB
Copy Edit: ERM