whentotest

When you isolate, you’re trying to keep away from other people so you don't make them sick. That includes members of your household.

  • Wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask if you have to be around others at home.

  • If possible, stay in a room away from other people.

  • Keep the air in your home as fresh and clean as you can. Here's how.

  • Let your health-care provider know that you tested positive. If you don't have a health-care provider, tell your local board of health.

Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you could still be contagious. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Isolate yourself for 5 full days. For the next 5 days, wear a high-quality, well-fitted mask whenever you're around other people, and don't travel unless you can wear that mask the entire time you're on public transportation or around other people indoors in public. If you can’t wear a mask or your immune system doesn't work properly, keep isolating for that second group of 5 days.

  • It's a good idea to get tested after the first 5 days have passed, because you may still be contagious. If you test positive, the safest thing to do is to continue to isolate, but that's not required. However, you should continue to mask whenever you're around other people, and try not to be around people who are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID.

  • Once you receive two negative test results at least 48 hours apart, you can stop masking.

  • If you are at high risk of getting very sick with COVID, talk with your health-care provider about starting treatment, even if you don’t have symptoms. If you don’t have a health-care provider, call Combat COVID at 1-877-332-6585 to find out who to talk with about treatment.

  • If you get symptoms at any point, start your isolation process over and follow the instructions for people with symptoms.

These two actions will do a lot to help protect the other people in your home:

  • You and the people you live with can wear high-qualitywell-fitting masks as much as possible when you're indoors together.

  • Keep the air in your home as fresh and clean as you can.

The more the air in your home is like clean outdoor air after a rainstorm, the better. Here's how you can make that happen.

  • Open as many windows as is possible and safe. If you can open windows on opposite sides of your home to create a cross-breeze, that's best.

  • Put a box fan in a window, facing out. Seal the window around the fan. That helps pull germy air out of the home.

  • If you have an exhaust fan in the bathroom or kitchen, turn it on. Make sure the windows are open if you run the fan for more than 10 minutes, so you don't pull toxic gases from the heating system into your home.

  • Viruses like dry air, so keep the air in your home more humid if you can.

  • Run an air cleaner with a HEPA filter and keep it right near you. You can make an inexpensive air cleaner called a Corsi-Rosenthal box using these instructions.

  • You need to isolate yourself for at least 5 full days, no matter what. If you had any trouble breathing while you were sick, you should isolate for a full 10 days.

  • If your symptoms were mild, you can stop isolating after 5 days if you're fever-free even without medication and your other symptoms are getting better. Wear a mask around others for the next 5 days and stay away from anyone who's at high risk of getting very sick from COVID. Don't travel unless you can wear a good mask the entire time you're on public transportation or around other people indoors in public . If you can’t wear a mask at all or your immune system doesn't work properly, keep isolating for that second group of 5 days.

  • It's a good idea to get tested after the first 5 days have passed, because you may still be contagious. If you test positive, the safest thing to do is to continue to isolate, but that's not required. However, you should continue to mask whenever you're around other people.

  • Once you receive two negative test results at least 48 hours apart, you can stop masking.

If you get COVID symptoms within 10 days of when you tested positive, you need to start isolation again. Your new Day 0 is the first day you started feeling sick the second time around.

If you get COVID symptoms after at least 10 days have passed since you tested positive, you need to test again. Use a rapid test, not a PCR test (here's why).If you test negative, wait 48 hours and test once more.

If you are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID, you can get anti-COVID medication. All of the medications for COVID have to be used early. Some of them have to be started within 5 days of the time when symptoms began. If it’s been more than 10 days since you first felt symptoms, then it’s too late for any of the current medications to be used. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to get tested if you feel sick.

You can get medication in any of the following ways:

  • Get a prescription from a health-care provider, urgent-care center, or community health center and bring it to a pharmacy to get the prescription filled. Find a community health centerfind a pharmacy that carries COVID medication.

  • Go to a pharmacy or community health center that's part of the Test to Treat program. These locations can both prescribe medications and give them to you. Find a Test to Treat location.

  • Some pharmacies that are not part of Test to Treat can also prescribe and fill medication. Call your local pharmacy to see if they offer this service. 

Bring these items with you when you when you get your prescription:

  • A list of all the medications you are already taking.

  • Electronic or printed health records less than 12 months old, or your health-care provider's contact information.

  • Lab reports less than 12 months old, if not part of other health records.

If you need more help

Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. If you need help because of a disability, call 1-888-677-1199 or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.

Two different types of medication for COVID are available: antivirals and monoclonal antibodies. They have all received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA — none are fully approved yet.

Antivirals

Antivirals don’t usually kill viruses directly. Instead, they make it harder for viruses to make more virus within your body. They may also make it harder for viruses to get into your cells.

Monoclonal antibodies

Antibodies are proteins that stick to the virus and then tell the immune system to kill it or keep it from entering cells. They’re one of your body's first defenses against getting infected. Monoclonal antibodies are a set of antibodies that all look exactly alike. Because they all have the same shape, they all stick to the virus in the same way.

Today, only a few medications for COVID are available for people who aren’t in the hospital. Because of the way they were developed and tested, they can only be used:

  • By people who are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID. (If you aren't high risk, they probably won't help you much.)

  • By people who have only mild to moderate symptoms.

  • Within a few days after symptoms start.

To get medication for COVID, you need a prescription from a health-care provider, urgent-care center, community health center, or some pharmacists. (Find a community health center) You can also get a prescription and medication at pharmacies that are participating in the Test to Treat program. (Find a Test to Treat location)

If you need help

Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages. If you need help because of a disability, call 1-888-677-1199 or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.

If you have any of the conditions on the CDC Medical Conditions page, you’re at high risk. Here are just a few examples from that list:

  • 65 years old or older

  • Obese or overweight

  • Pregnant

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Diabetes

  • Have a condition or receiving treatment that weakens or suppresses your immune system

  • Heart disease

  • Chronic lung diseases including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and moderate to severe asthma

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy

  • Have a medical device (for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides which drugs and medical tests can be used in this country. The full FDA approval process can take months to years.

When a public-health emergency happens, there isn’t time for new drugs or tests to go through the entire process. That’s when the FDA can use Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It allows the FDA to let certain medical products be used more quickly, while still making sure they are as safe as possible. All treatments and tests for COVID used in the US have received an EUA. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have received full approval from the FDA for adults. The Pfizer vaccine has an EUA for children ages 11 to 16.