Current Environment:

HOW AND WHEN SHOULD I USE AN AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST?

COVID-19 at-home self-tests are one of many measures that people can use to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. They may be used regardless of vaccination status following exposure, when someone has symptoms, or to provide some degree of reassurance that a person does not have asymptomatic infection. Many people are using them before joining gatherings with others who are not a member of their household. The key is taking the test as close as possible to the start of your event or activity to give you the most accurate information on whether you have the virus in your system at that time.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I TEST POSITIVE WITH AN AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST?

People who have a positive test using an at-home test should consider themselves to be infected with COVID-19. Positive tests for patients with compatible symptoms and/or a known or suspected exposure are likely to be a true positive. Although the at-home COVID-19 tests are quite accurate when used appropriately, very rarely, these tests may deliver a falsely positive result when a person does not have COVID-19. If there is little possibility of exposure and no symptoms, yet an at-home test is positive, you may consider doing a second home test to confirm the result. People with a positive test result should stay home and isolate away from others as outlined below:

  • Seek medical care if symptoms become severe; otherwise, managing symptoms at home is recommended.
  • People should inform close contacts (people with whom they were in contact 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or 48 hours prior to the date of the positive test if asymptomatic) that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I TEST NEGATIVE WITH AN AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST?

A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not detected at that time. If a person has symptoms at the time of taking the test, this does not entirely exclude a COVID-19 infection.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms but received a negative test result, we recommend repeating testing, either with a second, at-home test or a laboratory-based (PCR) test. It is recommended to repeat testing, ideally within 2-3 days.

DO I ALSO NEED A PCR TEST IF I TEST POSITIVE WITH AN AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST?

No. People who have a positive test using an at-home test should consider themselves to be infected with COVID-19.

WHAT DO I DO IF I TEST POSITIVE OR HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19?

On Monday, December 27, 2021, the CDC revised guidance regarding isolation and quarantine based on the most recent science that the majority of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) occurs soon after infection. While the greatest risk of transmission occurs in the first few days after infection, there is some residual risk of transmission after 5 days of infection – therefore, all guidance should be carefully followed.

PEOPLE WHO TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS:

  • Isolate at home for a minimum of 5 days. If there are multiple members in the household, all members should wear a mask during isolation.
  • If symptoms are improving after 5 days and there is no fever, or if there were never symptoms, patients may leave isolation after 5 days.
  • Anyone who tests positive should wear a mask around other people, including when at home with members of their household, for an additional 5 days following discontinuation of isolation – i.e., a total of 10 days of masking around others if isolation is discontinued on day 5, a total of 12 days of masking around others if isolation is discontinued on day 7, etc.
  • If symptoms are worsening, please call our office at: 617-361-1470.

PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH COVID-19:

If you have completed a primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series (Pfizer or Moderna) within the past 6 months or received a dose of the Janssen/J&J vaccine within the past two months or have completed a vaccine series at any point and received a booster:

  • Get tested on day 5 following exposure if at all possible.
  • Wear a mask when around other people for 10 days.
  • Isolate at home if symptoms develop and obtain testing.

If you are unvaccinated or completed a primary mRNA vaccine series over 6 months ago and are not boosted or received the Janssen/J&J vaccine over two months ago and are not boosted:

  • Get tested on day 5 following exposure if at all possible.
  • Quarantine at home for 5 days, then continue to wear a mask around other people for 5 additional days.
  • If unable to quarantine following exposure, exposed people who are not recently vaccinated or boosted (as above) should wear a mask when around others for a minimum of 10 days.

Continued mask wearing when around other people following quarantine or isolation is ESSENTIAL to minimize the continued risk of transmission that remains after the outlined quarantine or isolation periods.