The final consensus (proper now, at the very least) is that it’s commonest to check constructive 4 days after your signs seem. Based on a report from researchers at Emory College printed within the fall of 2023, that is when your viral load, or the quantity of virus harboring in your nasal passages, is at its highest, and due to this fact, most detectable, on an at-home take a look at. That is barely later than when individuals produced constructive take a look at outcomes a 12 months or two in the past—with Omicron and Delta, for instance, your take a look at tended to indicate a constructive two to a few days after your signs popped up. The idea right here (key phrase being idea) is the elevated immunity individuals now have, due to previous infections and former vaccinations, prolongs the period of time it takes for the virus to ramp itself up in your physique, Dr. Hafer says. There’s additionally the chance there’s one thing distinctive about JN.1 that delays whenever you take a look at constructive, he provides, nevertheless it’s too quickly to know that definitively.
When do you have to take a look at once more in case your first take a look at is unfavorable, however you realize you have been uncovered, or you could have COVID signs?
In case you get a unfavorable outcome after your first fast take a look at, when to strive once more is dependent upon how you’re feeling. If in case you have signs, the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking a second take a look at in 48 hours. In case you don’t have signs, do the identical factor, and if the primary two exams are unfavorable, take a 3rd 48 hours after that—once more, to permit the virus time to construct up in your physique. In case you’re nonetheless unfavorable after a couple of at-home exams spaced days aside, there’s a fairly slim probability you could have COVID, Dr. Breining says. That mentioned, you may head to your main care physician or an pressing care facility for a PCR take a look at to be further positive (these catch extra infections than fast at-home exams do, nevertheless it takes longer to get your outcomes).
Getting a PCR take a look at is a good suggestion if you happen to’re liable to severe issues from COVID and your fast exams are unfavorable, however you’re nonetheless feeling unhealthy. That is necessary so you can begin Paxlovid, the antiviral drug for COVID, ASAP—it’s handiest when taken early. (Additionally, “excessive danger” consists of issues like diabetes, despair, and being pregnant, and Paxlovid is broadly really useful for individuals 50 and older. Don’t fear that you simply’re not “sick sufficient;” it’s particularly supposed even when you have gentle signs.) In case you don’t qualify, are testing unfavorable over at the very least two exams spaced two days aside, and have gentle signs that line up with those above, you may in all probability keep residence and trip your signs out as you’d a typical respiratory an infection (suppose: relaxation, fluids, ache relievers, Netflix), Dr. Hafer says. In case you nonetheless really feel like crap after a couple of days and aren’t getting higher, speak to your physician—there’s all the time an opportunity you can have one thing else, just like the flu, which we now have efficient therapies for. (Plus, co-infections with COVID and the flu, although uncommon, can occur, Dr. Hafer says.)
I’m nonetheless testing constructive after 5 days of isolating—is it secure for me to be round different individuals but?
COVID is extremely contagious (that’s, in any case, how we discovered ourselves in a worldwide pandemic the place a whole lot of tens of millions of individuals acquired sick). Primarily based on the most recent information from the CDC, it appears to be like just like the virus remains to be wildly transmissible. Much less clear, although, is how lengthy you’re contagious after you take a look at constructive (and hold testing constructive, regardless of feeling higher). The assumption, per the CDC, is that individuals are most contagious in the course of the first 5 days after they first have signs, after which level you may go about your day by day actions—like work, faculty, and social commitments—once more. (With precautions firmly in place, that’s—extra on this beneath.)