What to do when you get COVID infected.

The harsh reality of the next few months is that almost all the population will be exposed to COVID-19. Even worse, with the remarkable infectivity of the Omicron virus, all unvaccinated and a significant percentage of vaccinated will get COVID-19. So, in many ways it’s not a question of if, but when?

Many more people will be tested because of the free kits being offered, so we also will have lots of individuals who are not symptomatic, but who will be identified as infected. This is a new situation.

Managing infections in this environment is therefore different and potentially confusing, given all the recommendations that have come before. In addition, the decision tree for infected people who are vaccinated, with or without booster shots, and those unvaccinated, Is necessarily different. Confounding this, many of the approaches we have used to treat infected individuals in prior outbreaks (monoclonal antibodies) do not work with Omicron.

What to do if you are identified as infected.

There are huge implications for everyone on how people react to a positive COVID test since poor decisions could make this wave of infections much worse. On one hand, overwhelming hospitals and doctors with patients having minimal illness could destroy the health care system. However, having individuals who are seriously ill with COVID-19 stay home until it is too late is not an option.

Therefore, let me try to give simple advice to infected people based on pre-existing conditions, vaccination status, and symptoms.

Red-Put on a mask and go to the emergency room

Regardless of vaccination status

  • Anyone with serious trouble breathing (can’t walk a few steps, blow out a candle, or take a deep breath)

Yellow-Call the doctor, mask, and quarantine.

(This does not mean you need to be hospitalized, but they need to know you are infected.)

Regardless of vaccination status:

  • Anyone over 70 years old or with significant heart or lung disease (defined as requiring a hospital stay at some time).
  • Anyone with immune system problems


  • Anyone over the age of 50 with significant heart, lung, or immune problems, regardless of symptoms.
  • Anyone with significant symptoms even if not having trouble breathing

Green-Quarantine and mask.


  • Anyone without symptoms.
  • Anyone under 50 years of age with symptoms, but no trouble breathing and no significant heart, lung, or immune problems.

Vaccinated (with or without booster)

  • Anyone without symptoms
  • Anyone with symptoms, but no trouble breathing.

The current recommendation is 10 days of quarantine for everyone, but NFL is now allowing fully vaxxed people to return to work 24 hours after symptoms resolve. Given the impact this wave may have on critical jobs, this may become universal for fully vaccinated and boosted individuals.

So, if you don’t want to sit in your basement for 10 days, finish your COVID vaccination.

Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

15 thoughts on “What to do when you get COVID infected.

  1. Doctor, what do Red Yellow and Green signify? Are those the degrees of infection if one is positive on a home test kit? Thank you as always for the insights and clear guidance!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. so the statements that follow the yellow and green are categorical exceptions that need to consider healthcare interventions? or just groups that may need to be vigilant and more likely to need to seek healthcare?


  2. I heard that the only brand of monoclonal antibodies effective against the omicron variant is sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, but that it is in short-supply. Is this the case at the UofM Medical Center as well? Do you have any information or estimate on how rapidly the supply may be increased?


    1. Absolutely. People with 3 vaccine doses unlikely ever get sick with omicron. But in Michigan only 60% of adults have even a single dose of vaccine. That is a large, unprotected population. Pray for them this holiday.


  3. We have J&J plus our J&J boosters. Both healthy, in our 60’s, run an hour outdoors
    every day. What is our protection level?


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