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COVID-19 testing: What to do while you’re waiting
COVID-19 testing can help us keep the virus from spreading. If you were tested, you should take steps to protect other people while you wait for your results.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following advice:
Take steps to stop the spread
You might wonder if you need to quarantine. It depends on why you were tested—and whether you're up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines. According to CDC:
If you have COVID-19 symptoms. Stay home—even if you are up-to-date with your vaccines. If possible, stay 6 feet away from people you live with. It is especially important to avoid close contact with people at high risk for severe illness. This includes older adults and those with health problems.
If you were around someone with COVID-19 and you're not up-to-date with your vaccines. Stay home and away from other people for at least five days—even if you feel fine. Get tested at least five days after you were exposed. Wear a mask when around others, even at home, for 10 days. Ask your doctor or your local health department what to do if you get a negative result. Avoid being around anyone at high risk for severe COVID-19.
If you were around someone with COVID-19 and you are up-to-date with your vaccines. If you don't have COVID-19 symptoms, you do not have to stay home and away from others. Get tested at least five days after you were exposed. Wear a mask when around others in public and at home for 10 days. Avoid being around anyone at high risk for severe COVID-19.
Pay attention to how you feel
While you are waiting for your test results, monitor your health.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath. Call your doctor if you start to have symptoms or they get worse. If your symptoms become severe, seek medical care right away.
Think about the people you were close to
Make a list of the people you've been around in recent days. You might include people you have been in close contact with at work, school, restaurants or social gatherings.
If you test positive, a public health worker called a contact tracer may call you and ask for this information. The health worker can let people you were close to know that they should be tested too. If you test positive and a public health worker does not contact you, you can let your close contacts know yourself. A close contact is someone you were within 6 feet of for 15 minutes or more.
If you test positive for the virus
Be sure to stay home and stay away from other people, even if you don't have symptoms. Follow your doctor's advice about when you can be around others.
If you have a question or concern after your COVID-19 test, you should call your doctor. If you want to learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19, take a look at our Coronavirus health topic center.