Health Advice



Helpful guidelines if you test positive or negative for COVID-19 test

Joel Streed, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Have you recently taken a COVID-19 test? If you're waiting for your COVID-19 test results, Mayo Clinic COVID-19 diagnostic experts have some helpful guidelines to walk you through the process.

It all depends on the type of test and your results.

Next steps after testing positive with polymerase chain reaction test

If you test positive for COVID-19 using a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, follow these guidelines, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, to determine what you need to do:

-- Isolate for at least five days. You can end isolation after five days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Day zero is your first day of symptoms. NOTE: You also should check with your employer, school district or public health department for exact isolation guidelines for you and/or your family if you test positive for COVID-19, as those guidelines may differ.

-- If you test positive for COVID-19 and never develop symptoms, commonly referred to as asymptomatic, isolate for at least five days and wear a mask around others at home. Day zero is the day the sample was collected for a positive test result.


-- Contact your health care team to let them know you tested positive for COVID-19 so it can be documented in your health record.

-- At the end of isolation, wear a properly fitted surgical/procedural mask in public settings.

-- If you still have a fever, regardless of how many days you've been in isolation, stay home and monitor your symptoms until you no longer have a fever.

-- You may need to have a negative COVID-19 test result, either a PCR or at-home antigen test, before you can return to work or school. Check with your employer, school district or public health department to determine if this is needed.


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