When would you need a COVID-19 Test? Now that most of the pandemic-level restrictions are gone, you're not sure when you may (or may not) need a coronavirus test. Take a look at the top reasons to schedule a test at a community clinic or with your local healthcare provider.
You Have Possible COVID-19 Symptoms
The growing list of COVID-19 symptoms includes fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat, GI issues, congestion, runny nose, or a new loss of taste/smell, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While these are possible signs of COVID-19, these are also symptoms of other illnesses (such as the flu, the common cold, or RSV) and some types of allergies.
It's possible to have COVID-19 if you haven't had known exposure. This means you may have symptoms even though you don't live with, work with, or spend time with someone who just tested positive. Like other viruses, it's possible to get COVID-19 almost anywhere.
You Were Exposed
Even though you won't always have a known exposure before symptoms start, sometimes you might. Some exposures may not result in symptoms. You should test for COVID-19 after exposure — whether you have symptoms or not.
The CDC notes that it's possible to develop symptoms two to 14 days after exposure. While five full days after exposure is the current standard for testing, you may need to take a test before or after this time frame. Given the two to 14-day window when symptoms could develop, it's possible to feel fine on day five and feel sick several days later. If you take a test on day five (post-exposure) and then develop symptoms, you will need to retest. But if you don't have symptoms, you may not need a second COVID-19 test.
You Want To Protect Someone Else
Will you go to the home of someone who is immunocompromised or has a serious medical condition soon? Are you planning a large indoor group event? Will you start a new job working in a healthcare setting or with medically fragile individuals? If you have any doubt about your COVID-19 status, have slight symptoms, or think there's a possibility you could have and transmit this virus to someone who could get seriously ill (such as people who are immunocompromised, chronically ill, or elderly), you may want to test for COVID-19.
While one COVID-19 test doesn't guarantee that you're virus-free, it is one preventative step you can take to keep those around you healthy. If your test is negative, you may still want to wear a face covering and stay a safe physical distance away from the individual you want to protect.