What do you need to know about a COVID-19 test? More than two years into the pandemic, you may think you know everything about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 test. But it also seems like the rules and guidelines are constantly changing. Even though your state may not have mandates anymore, testing is still an important part of staying healthy. If you need to know more, take a look at the dos and don'ts of the COVID-19 test.
Do Test When In Doubt
You may have a stuffy nose, sore throat, and—that's it. A few short years ago, the absence of a fever or serious symptoms may have meant that you didn't need a COVID-19 test. But new variants (such as omicron and its sub-variants) may also have new or different symptoms. If you have a respiratory illness or some COVID-19-like symptoms, test to rule out the illness.
The only way to know whether you have COVID-19 or not is by testing. If your symptoms don't seem severe or you think it's an allergy, a test is still the best option. This allows you to quickly identify whether you are contagious (with Covid) and helps you to stop the spread of disease in your household, your workplace, or your community.
Don't Assume COVID-19 Is Over
Even though the number of hospitalizations may have gone down (compared to statistics from the beginning of the pandemic), COVID-19 is still in most communities. This means you still need to stay on top of the best safety practices and current testing requirements. Along with illness or potential symptoms, exposure also requires testing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who were exposed by a close contact and are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations should quarantine for at least five days and get tested five days after the exposure (sooner if they have symptoms). If you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccinations, the CDC also recommends that you get tested at least five days after the exposure or if you are symptomatic.
Do Learn More About Your Testing Options—Right Now
Where can you get a test for COVID-19? Some people may not have had a reason to get tested in the past two-plus years. If you haven't had COVID-19-like symptoms or an exposure, you may not know where to go for a COVID-19 test. Make a plan for testing (if you need it) and learn more about the options in your area.
Some doctor's offices may offer this service. But your primary care physician (PCP) could refer you to another healthcare facility if they don't want potentially positive patients in the office. Local community testing centers, some urgent care centers, and home-based testing are options to explore.
For more information about where to get a COVID-19 test, check online or with your doctor.