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What Does a Positive COVID-19 Test Result Mean?

Throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, testing has been an integral piece of the puzzle. With new variants arising, cases still high, and vaccination rates lower than necessary to stop the spread, COVID-19 testing remains a key component to ending the pandemic. Testing can help identify the spread of new variants, inform individuals on when to isolate or quarantine, and provide peace of mind for anyone who thinks that they may have COVID-19. 

Although there are several test types, like COVID-19 PCR tests, antigen tests, and other swab tests, they all have one thing in common. They can potentially provide you with a positive test result. While receiving a positive result can strike fear or panic, in this blog we are breaking down what a positive result actually means and what you should do if you get one.

After You Get Tested

Once you have decided to get tested, the waiting game begins. Let’s look at some questions you may have about what happens in between getting tested and receiving your results.

Do I Need to Quarantine While Waiting for my Covid-19 Screening Result?

Once you have taken your COVID-19 test there are really two plans of action recommended by the CDC. 

  1. If you are fully vaccinated and you were tested as part of routine COVID-19 screenings, and not experiencing any symptoms, then you do not need to quarantine after your test. 
  1. However, if you voluntarily sought a test because you fear you may have COVID-19 or have known exposure, you should quarantine until you get your test result back. Additionally, while you await your results, you should monitor your health, think about who your close contacts would be if you test positive, and be sure to answer the calls from the health department to find out if you are positive or a close contact. For more details on what to do once you get a test, check out the CDC’s guide here.

Swab Test Results…How Many Days?

Waiting for your test results can feel like an eternity. Fortunately, aside from phone calls or emails, you can also access swab test results online to see your results as soon as they are known. Quick response times can be several hours, while average wait times across the United States is around 2-3 days.   

What Should I Do When I Get My COVID-19 Test Result?

You answered the phone or checked online, and your results are back. You tested positive for COVID-19. You may be wondering what that actually means, and what you should do next. First and foremost you should isolate and inform any close contacts per the CDC. They will be recommended to quarantine as well. 

For you, isolation begins on either day one of your symptoms, or the day of your positive test if you are asymptomatic. Once you have isolated yourself, you should monitor your health and symptoms. For more on isolation and what a your test result means let’s answer a few questions:

When Should I End Isolation After a Positive COVID-19 Test?

As mentioned above, isolation is the very first thing you should do once you learn you have tested positive. As for when to end isolation, that answer is a little more complex. Isolation is a “10-day” process. However, the reason for the quotation marks is because you may have to restart your ten days at some point. 

For example, day one of isolation for symptomatic individuals is the first day they developed symptoms. That could mean it’s before they were tested and so they might be on day three by the time their results are back. It could be that they don’t develop symptoms until three days after testing positive, meaning their 10-day isolation restarts on that day. For individuals who never develop symptoms, isolation should start on the day of their test, which is another reason quarantining while awaiting results is important.  

Am I Infectious If I Have a Positive COVID-19 Test Result?

Technically, it is very hard to know for certain if you are contagious once you receive a positive COVID-19 test. Since you can be contagious anywhere from two-14 days after contracting the virus, pinpointing exactly where you are at in the timeline can be difficult, especially if you are asymptomatic. However, you should treat a positive test as an indication that you are contagious. 

While some at-home tests have been known to produce a high rate of abnormal test results or “false positives,” it is important that you treat all positive results as real until further testing or consulting a healthcare professional.  

Fast Results and Service You Can Trust…BioCollections

At BioCollections, we know getting accurate results quickly is a big deal. That’s why at our testing sites, we provide quick turnaround times and transparent communication throughout the whole process. When you need results you can trust, from experts who care, think BioCollections. Check out our website for more information on where our testing sites are located and to , or set up your test today! 

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