So You Just Tested Positive for COVID. Now What?

Notify those you’ve come into contact with of your result. 

For the health and safety of others, it’s important to let individuals you have come into contact with recently know that you’ve tested positive. The CDC explains that it is critical to establish open communication with those exposed to the virus in order for them to seek out tests of their own, obtain vaccination information, get a medical evaluation as well as general support services. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends those who have come into close contact with individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID to get tested three to five days after their initial exposure (ideally on day five). 

Don’t go to the emergency room.

On December 31, 2021, the VDH put out a press release urging individuals with mild cases of COVID or other non-serious illnesses to avoid trips to already overwhelmed emergency rooms. The release further explains that the recent surges in COVID case—up 22% in the Hampton Roads area—have caused an influx of patients seeking emergency care, despite the fact that most individuals who test positive for the virus can safely recover at home or by seeking guidance from a primary healthcare provider. Rushing to the hospital for mild symptoms will further strain hospitals and healthcare workers, who themselves are bravely battling the pandemic. 

Visit a primary care provider. 

While you shouldn’t rush to the emergency room, the CDC does recommend monitoring your symptoms and consulting with your healthcare provider. You should follow your provider’s care instructions, as well as those from your local healthcare departments. The CDC also strongly recommends calling ahead if you plan to visit your doctor for other health issues or concerns, as any routine procedure is likely going to be postponed or provided over the phone or through other methods of telehealth. 

Stay home.

The best thing you can do for yourself, as well as the health and safety of others, is stay home. In a press release issued on December 27th, the CDC announced that it has shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population. Instead of quarantining for 14 days, it is now recommended that individuals who test positive for COVID and are asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms quarantine for five days, followed by another five days of strict mask use. The release explains that the change is motivated by science finding that the majority of transmission occurs one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms, and two to three days after. 

Monitor your symptoms. 

Throughout your time in quarantine, the CDC iterates that it’s important to keep an eye out for the following symptoms: 

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

Mask up.

Your quarantine is over and your symptoms have resolved. Again, the question of “Now what?” persists. The CDC explains that if you are no longer experiencing the symptoms of COVID after your five-day quarantine, you can leave your house. Following your quarantine, the CDC suggests wearing a tight-fitting mask (or two) for the next five days to protect the health and safety of others.

~Grace Hobson