Symptoms? Exposure? Vaccination Status? FAQs About COVID-19 Testing
When do you need COVID-19 testing? Your state may have lifted most (or all) of its mitigation measures. While the days of total shutdowns appear to be in the past, the COVID-19 virus isn't. Whether you have cold-like symptoms, had a recent exposure, are planning a trip out of the country, or may need a test for another reason, take a look at the top COVID-19 testing service questions answered.
Do You Need A Test If You're Sick?
The answer to this question depends on your symptoms. COVID-19 can cause cold- or flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion/runny nose, muscle and body aches, fatigue, headache, and GI issues. It can also cause shortness of breath or make it difficult to breathe. If you have any of these symptoms, a test is the only way to rule out COVID-19.
Do You Need A Test If You Were Exposed To COVID-19?
You won't always know when you are exposed to COVID-19. This can make it difficult to know when exposure-based testing is necessary. If you recently went to a large event and another guest tested positive, it's possible that you were exposed. But if the person who tested positive was on the other side of the room for the entire event, you aren't considered a close contact.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a close contact is someone who started having symptoms or tested positive in the past two days and was less than six feet away from you for a total of at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms after close contact, you should get tested immediately. People who don't have symptoms should still get tested at least five days after the known exposure, according to the CDC's current recommendations.
Do You Need A Test If You Have Symptoms and No Exposure?
Perhaps you were in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, yet you have no noticeable symptoms. Again, you should still test on day five or after. But what about people who aren't close contacts/aren't exposed and do have symptoms? The presence of symptoms alone is a reason to schedule or take a test—regardless of your exposure status.
Do You Need A Test If You're Up To Date On Your Vaccinations?
The CDC defines "up to date" as someone who has taken the full series of vaccines (either the two mRNA vaccines or the single-dose option) and had a booster (if recommended based on the timing of the last vaccine dose). Even though the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, no immunization is perfect. This means you could potentially get a breakthrough infection. If you are up to date on the COVID-19 vaccines and either have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus, you will need a test.