What To Do If You Test Positive For COVID-19

You’re vaccinated against COVID-19. You’re boosted. You wear a mask and maintain social distance. You also feel fine. Nevertheless, you just tested positive. What do you do?

Don’t be surprised.

The Omicron variant, which is fueling the current surge of COVID-19 nationwide and globally, has a higher viral load than Delta, which makes it much more contagious. This is why it is spreading so fast, even among people who are vaccinated.

The good news is that, although Omicron causes similar symptoms as Delta, including cough, fever, and fatigue, it seems less likely to cause severe disease—especially if you are vaccinated.

Stay isolated after testing positive for COVID-19

Yet, regardless of your vaccination status, you must take every precaution to protect others from infection if you test positive.

According to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should:

  • isolate for 5 days;
  • wear a mask around others for five additional days;
  • stay home if you have a fever and until it resolves;
  • leave your house only if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving;
  • tell a healthcare provider about your positive test result; and,
  • tell close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. You can begin spreading the virus in 48 hours before you have any symptoms or test positive.

Guidance on re-testing after a positive result

You needn’t take another test to verify your initial test result, since a positive home test is overwhelmingly likely to be a true positive and taking another is wasteful, expensive, and unnecessary, say internists Paul Fenyves, MD and Adam R. Stracher, MD.

You also needn’t repeat a test once you’re feeling better. The CDC says that if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past three months, recovered and have no new symptoms, then you do not need to re-test, since tests, depending on the type, can stay positive for weeks or months. “There is absolutely no need to test before leaving self-isolation,” Dr. Fenyves adds.