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I Tested Positive For COVID-19. Now What?

Apr 1, 2020 By William Kimbrough

Updated August 6, 2021.

Testing positive for COVID-19 can feel scary and leave you wondering about the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones. While the media swirl around coronavirus may paint an alarming picture, in actuality, a care plan for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 often doesn’t look much different than it would for someone that is treating a cold or flu. Here’s everything you need to know about an affirmative coronavirus diagnosis:

I was tested for COVID-19. What’s next?

Depending on what kind of COVID-19 test you received, your test will either be processed on-site (as with rapid PCR or rapid antigen tests) or sent to a laboratory for processing (as with standard PCR tests). Once your provider receives your test results back, they will contact you to share your negative or positive test result and provide a care plan based on your symptoms. Rapid tests can produce same-day results, while standard PCR tests results currently take about 2-3 days. To learn more about the various testing options and which is best for you, read here.

Please note, all healthcare providers are required to confidentially report all positive COVID-19 results to the local department of health who may reach out to learn more about any recent travel or close contacts to assist in containing the spread of the virus.

I tested positive for COVID-19 but am not showing symptoms.

If you’re not showing symptoms, there is a good chance that you’re already on the road to recovery. While you may feel fine, it’s important that you still take measures to prevent others from contracting the virus. After testing positive, your provider will recommend you isolate yourself until at least 10 days have passed, assuming you have not developed symptoms. If you develop symptoms during this time, follow the guidance below. Studies suggest that having recovered from an infection with COVID-19 confers some protection against getting re-infected, but how robust the protection is and how long it lasts is still under investigation.

I tested positive and am experiencing manageable symptoms.

Many of those who get tested for COVID-19 will actively be experiencing symptoms similar to those of a cold or flu. While there is currently no known cure for the coronavirus, your provider will offer tips on things you can do from home to help ease your recovery period. Most importantly, make sure to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and take acetaminophen(or another pain/fever reducer as instructed by your provider) to alleviate pain and help reduce fever.

Your provider will recommend self-isolation until 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared, you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication, and other symptoms have improved. During this time, you should not leave home or visit public areas, except to get medical care, and separate yourself from other people and pets in your household as much as possible. If you must be around other people, wear a mask and try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance at all times. You should also avoid sharing personal items, wash your hands frequently, and clean all high-touch surfaces often. We also recommend reaching out to a friend or family member who may be able to help drop off supplies during your self-isolation period. For more information on how to protect yourself and others and when to end isolation, see our guide to quarantine and isolation here.

I tested positive and have risk factors for developing severe illness

If you have received a positive COVID-19 test and are over the age of 64 or have a health condition, you should reach out to your healthcare provider for more information as there may be medications available that could significantly decrease your risk of complications from COVID-19.

If your symptoms become more severe, especially if you are unable to take care of yourself (i.e. unable to consume liquids and food, experiencing excessive light-headedness, etc.), you should immediately reach out to your healthcare provider, or for emergencies, dial 911.

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William Kimbrough, One Medical Provider
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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County,Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.