Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Symptoms, testing, vaccines and what to do if infected

Hand sanitizer to help protect against COVID.

Symptoms, testing, vaccines and what to do if infected

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought about numerous questions regarding symptoms, testing, medical care and vaccines. Understanding these concerns was crucial for public health and individual safety. COVID-19 is no longer classified as a novel or emerging disease. Furthermore, its impact, both globally and in the United States, has diminished to levels below those of a pandemic. Nonetheless, COVID-19 cases persist, and for certain individuals, the virus can lead to severe illness or even be fatal.

There are many people who now experience milder forms of COVID-19 illness, with a wide range of symptoms. However, this does not rule out the possibility of severe infections that could result in serious health complications or death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a medical grade mask before medical help arrives.


There are a number of ways you can test to see if you have COVID-19. Home testing is an option available to patients You can also visit your local drug store or find a testing site in your community.

Scripps does not recommend routine COVID testing for those with mild or no symptoms, or who have concerns they may have been exposed to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage you to explore testing options with the County of San Diego by calling 2-1-1 or visiting For State of California testing locations and eligibility, call 888-634-1123 from 7 am - 7 pm, Monday - Friday, or visit

What to do if you have COVID

If you suspect that you do have COVID symptoms, it is recommended that you first visit the MyScripps online patient portal and answer the COVID-19 symptom checker questions. This will lead to appointment scheduling if indicated.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. You can treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help feel better.

If you have COVID-19 and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. These COVID-19 treatments must be prescribed by a physician and are available at Scripps retail pharmacies. They are most effective when taken within five days after symptoms begin and the correct dose is taken for the prescribed length of time. Your physician can determine if antiviral medication is right for you or you can visit one of the Test to Treat locations to get rapid testing and find out if you are eligible for treatment. 

Previously, guidelines for home isolation due to COVID-19 recommended a minimum of five days of isolation followed by a phase of additional safety measures. These guidelines were established at a time when the public health emergency was marked by higher instances of severe illness, including increased hospitalizations and fatalities.

In March 2024, the CDC updated its recommendations concerning home isolation after recovering from COVID-19. According to the new Respiratory Virus Guidance, individuals are advised to remain home and isolate from others until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, and their symptoms have generally improved.

The updated advice also suggests maintaining certain precautions for five days following the conclusion of home isolation. Since some people can remain contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period, taking steps to breath fresh outside air/purified indoor air, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others and practicing good hygiene can all play an important role is reducing the risk of spreading COVID to others.


The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks. Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. Updated vaccines are advised for everyone aged 6 months and older, with the CDC recommending specific doses based on age and health status.

Updated COVID-19 vaccine doses are available by appointment and by walk-in at select Scripps HealthExpress locations throughout San Diego County. Most Americans can still get a COVID-19 vaccine for free. For people with health insurance, most plans will cover COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to you. Uninsured or underinsured adults can go to to find COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to them.

Appointments are also available at locations throughout San Diego County. Individuals without access to a computer or someone to assist them can call the California Department of Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255. Operators are available who speak English and Spanish, and can access a third-party translator for more than 250 additional languages.

Appointments and access

Scripps physicians and providers are available, both virtually and in-person, to address your medical needs.

While masks are no longer mandatory, they are strongly recommended, especially for visitors and patients with respiratory symptoms. Updated visitor guidelines and safety measures ensure the well-being of patients, staff and visitors alike.

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