Steps to Take After COVID-19 Testing

There are a number of reasons why you may be tested for COVID-19. It may be because you have COVID-19 symptoms, were a close contact of someone with COVID-19, are in a job or a population that may be at higher risk for exposure and suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19; or are in a job or a population for which routine or repeat testing is recommended or required.

The information below will help you to determine what you should do while you are waiting for your test results, and what to do after your test results are available.

What do I do while I wait for my test results?

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, were tested because you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, or you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home and, as much as possible, avoid others in your household. In addition, if you were tested because you have COVID-19 symptoms, everyone in your household should stay at home as much as possible until your results are known.

If you were tested for COVID-19 but have no symptoms and no known or suspected exposure to someone with COVID19 (for example, as part of a workplace screening program), you do not need to stay home while waiting for your results unless you are told to do so by your employer or by a public health official.

What if my test is negative?

If you were tested because you have symptoms, you should stay home until you have no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and you have felt well for at least 24 hours.

If you were tested because you have symptoms and a healthcare provider still thinks you have COVID-19, even with a negative test, you should stay home and, as much as possible, avoid others in your household until you can say yes to ALL three of the following questions:

  • Has it been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms?
  • Has it been at least 24 hours (1 day) since you have had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine?
  • Have your other symptoms improved (such as coughing and shortness of breath)?

A test-based strategy is no longer recommended to discontinue isolation or precautions and employers should not require documentation of a negative test before allowing a worker to return.

If you were tested because of a known contact to someone with COVID-19, you should stay home and quarantine (avoid anyone in your household) until 14 days after the last time you were in contact with the person who tested positive. Having a negative test during that period is a good thing, but there is still a chance that it may take up to 14 days after
exposure to COVID-19 for the virus to present itself and infect someone. That’s why it is important that you monitor your symptoms closely. If you develop any symptoms, then you may have COVID-19. Check with your medical provider, the COVID-19 Community Team, or get tested again.

If you were tested for another reason that is not because of a known or suspected contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and have no symptoms, then you can resume your regular activities.

What if my test is positive?

Following CDC guidelines, if your test comes back positive and you had symptoms, you should stay home and, as much as possible, avoid others in your household until you can say yes to ALL three of the following questions:

  • Has it been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms?
  • Has it been at least 24 hours (1 day) since you have had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine?
  • Have your other symptoms improved (such as coughing and shortness of breath)?

Following CDC guidelines, if your test comes back positive and you did not have symptoms, you should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in your household) until 10 days have passed since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, assuming you did not develop symptoms since your positive test.

Additionally, if you have tested positive for COVID-19, the local health department or another member of the COVID-19 Community Team will call to ensure you have the information and support you need, such as tips for staying at home and monitoring symptoms. To protect your family and friends and slow the spread of the virus, the COVID-19 Community Team member will also ask you who you have recently been near – for example, people living in your household or people who have been within 6 feet of you for more than 15 minutes. The COVID-19 Community Team will reach out to anyone who has been near you to share information and support, as well as help them get tested. They should stay home and quarantine until 14 days after the last time they were in contact with you while you were able to spread the infection.

The team will not share your name or personal information. This information is confidential and will remain private. However, if you are comfortable, please share this information with everyone in your household and any of your close contacts. If the COVID-19 Community Team does not get in contact with you, please call your local health department.

How can I practice home care?

If you cannot meet the requirements where you currently live, the COVID-19 Community Team can help to connect you to resources that can help.

  • Stay home except to seek medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride shares, or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from others in your home, especially people who are at higher risk of serious illness.
  • Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others.
  • Do not allow visitors into your home.

Other helpful recommendations include:

  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids. You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to reduce fever and pain. Do not give children younger than age 2 years any medications without first checking with a doctor. Note that medicines do not “cure” COVID-19 and do not stop you from spreading the virus.
  • Seek medical care if your symptoms get worse, especially if you are at a higher risk of serious illness.
  • Symptoms that indicate you should seek medical care include: difficulty breathing, not being able to keep fluids down, dehydration, confusion and other serious symptoms.
  • If possible, call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or hospital to tell them you are isolating for COVID19. This will help the health care personnel prepare for your arrival and protect others from getting infected.
    • Do not wait in any waiting rooms and do wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth or mask
      at all times if possible.
    • Do not use public transportation.
    • If you call 911, first notify the dispatch and paramedics that you are under isolation for COVID-19.

How can I help slow the spread?

Everyone should continue to practice the 3 Ws (Wear. Wait. Wash.) whenever they leave home. Wearing a cloth mask over your mouth and nose if you will be with other people, waiting 6 feet apart from others, and washing your hands often can help protect you and your loved ones from the spread of this virus.

Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces daily (including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, faucets, toilets, phones, tv remotes, keys, keyboards), and especially any surfaces that may have body fluids on them.