Test positive for COVID at home? here’s what to do

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

a large number of people testing positive for COVID-19 at home it’s one reason experts think current case numbers may be gross understatements. This year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the way monitors the risk of COVID-19 in the US to include measures such as the number of hospitalizations, healthcare capacity, and the level of viruses in our wastewater. But knowing the case count in your community can still be an important tool when deciding whether it’s safe to go to a movie or dinner indoors.

“These rapid home tests make us underestimate the number of people who actually have COVID,” said Keri Althoff, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “And therefore also underestimate the number of what we know as our COVID transmission rates per 100,000 population.”

Even if it doesn’t count in the US COVID-19 case counts, the CDC encourages people who test positive to report that result to their physician (or department of public health, if they don’t have a primary care physician). just to assess your individual risk of COVID-19 and see what treatments are available.

Here’s what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 at home and review isolation and quarantine guidelines.

See More information: Best home tests for COVID

Three people sit together while a drop of solution on a COVID test at home

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2 things to do if you test positive for COVID-19 at home

If you take a quick test at home and it’s positive, assume you have COVID-19. While true, rapid home tests are less sensitive than “gold standard” PCR tests (about 10% to 20% less sensitive, according to Hackensack Meridian Health) and more likely to give a false negative result. , positive self-test results are “highly reliable,” according to the CDC.

“If you test negative on a home test but think you have COVID-19 because you have symptoms or have been exposed, consider testing again 24 to 48 hours later,” the CDC said. Then, after a few spaced out negative tests, you can feel more confident that your negative result is indeed negative. Home tests too good at detecting infections BA.5.

There are two important steps to take after a positive home test result.

Follow CDC guidance on isolation (or be even more cautious)

Once you test positive, you must follow the CDC’s guidance for isolating yourself (staying away from others if you are sick or testing positive for COVID-19). One big caveat, though, is that some experts feel the CDC is a little too relaxed in its guidance. Some say people should be advised to test negative before coming out of isolation — before the 10th, for example. The CDC doesn’t explicitly say this.

The Washington Post reports that the CDC may even update its guidance, as rapid home tests are now more available than when the agency originally wrote its recommendations. New guidelines might even help accommodate subtle cases like President Joe Bidenwho tested negative, then positive again in a rebound case of COVID-19, then tested negative again.

Regardless of your vaccination status, the CDC advises you to stay home for at least five days, with day zero being the day you tested positive. You should also isolate yourself from people in your home or wear a well-fitting mask if you cannot avoid other people. You can end your isolation after five days, as long as your symptoms have disappeared or improved and you have been fever free for at least 24 hours. However, you should still wear a mask and avoid traveling for at least 10 days. In addition, it is best to avoid contact with people at higher risk of severe COVID-19, such as older adults.

Tell your doctor or health department

If you test positive with a COVID-19 test at home, call your primary care doctor, Althoff said. Not only will your doctor be able to guide you towards treatments but also paxlovid if you are at high risk for severe COVID-19, but in some cases your doctor will have a system in place that allows you to funnel a self-reported test result into official COVID-19 counts.

But your COVID-19 result is far less likely to end up on your state’s official count than if you tested positive a second time at the doctor’s office or at a mass testing site or clinic, according to Althoff.

“Calling your doctor and giving him this information is important for your individual health, but we shouldn’t misinterpret this to think that this information is now entering our surveillance systems,” she said.

Many states have required the reporting of COVID-19 test results, Althoff said, but these tests are often done in clinical settings. Information from a laboratory that processes a PCR test, for example, goes straight to the health department; these are “established systems,” she says. Even if you report a home test to your health department, the data needed for an official report by the CDC is often missing. “The data element itself and the data structure are different,” said Althoff.

Still, you should call your health department or doctor to report a positive home test result. (Here is a list of health departments in the US.) You can also check directly with your county or city to see if there is a more direct way to report a test result. Some areas, such as Washington state, have hotlines for reporting a COVID-19 positive at home.

You may also be asked to provide additional information to the health department if you call or email, such as your age and vaccination status.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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