What to do if you test positive for COVID-19


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – More people are expected to test positive for COVID-19 as cold weather and holiday gatherings draw people indoors and the omicron variant continues to spread.

“I think that history and just knowing what we know about how viruses behave show us that, yes, we’re likely to see a spike,” said Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk, a family physician at UNC Health.

So what’s the first step if you test positive? If it’s a rapid test, Mieses Malchuk said to take a PCR test to double-check that you truly are infected.

The next step is to isolate.

“The incubation period for COVID may vary a little bit from person to person, but in general, anybody that you spent the last three to seven days with, you should let them know that you tested positive,” she said.

Mieses Malchuk added that depending on where you got tested, you may not receive a call from any contact tracers or a health department.

Most people can recover on their own at home — especially if they’re vaccinated.

“If you have any other medical conditions whatsoever, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with your family physician,” Mieses Malchuk said.

They can assess if you need a monoclonal antibody treatment or treatment pill. If you feel bad, don’t wait to go to the emergency room.

“If you ever have trouble breathing, if you’re ever becoming confused, or lethargic, or you’re just worried, those are always good reasons to visit the emergency department,” she said.

Mieses Malchuck said you can return to normal life after 10 days and 24 hours after your fever ends.

“A lot of times, it’s possible that you are feeling better, and you’re no longer contagious, but might still test positive,” the doctor said.

It’s confusing and it’s why the CDC doesn’t recommend another test unless it is required by your job or school. However, the CDC and federal health officials are considering changing that guidance.

All of this starts with getting tested. Along with vaccinations, masking, and distancing, testing is an important tool in mitigating spread.

Mieses Malchuk said, “That hopefully, will be able to guide you to make the right decision to keep yourself and your family safe.”

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