I was exposed to COVID. When should I expect symptoms?

If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you quarantine yourself for 14 days and monitor for symptoms like fatigue, cough, and fever. This advice is based on how long it takes for infected people to develop symptoms. According to a review from the Journal of the American Medical Association, for people who catch COVID after being exposed:

  • 25% of infected people will have symptoms 2 days after exposure.
  • 50% will have symptoms 5 days after exposure.
  • 75% will have symptoms 7 days after exposure.
  • 97.5% will have symptoms by 11.5 days.
  • By 14 days, nearly everyone who has been infected will have symptoms.

However, there have been cases where people develop symptoms after 14 days. One estimate suggests that about 1 out of 100 people (who are infected and will develop symptoms) will develop their first symptoms 14 days or more after being exposed. 

So if you’ve been exposed, quarantine for 2 weeks to keep your friends and family safe. And if you start to cough on day 15, 16, or even 21, it could still be COVID! Contact your doctor to discuss testing and other next steps.

Last update: December 21, 2020, 11:21 pm ET

Science review: JAB