How long can you test positive for COVID after infection? – NBC Chicago

How long do you test positive after contracting COVID-19? There’s no way to know for sure.

The answers vary, according to health officials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people who contract COVID-19 can have a detectable virus for up to three months, but that doesn’t mean they are contagious.

However, when it comes to testing, the PCR tests are more likely to continue to pick up the virus after infection.

“The PCR test can remain positive for a long time,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, earlier.

“Those PCR tests are very sensitive,” she added. “They sometimes keep picking up dead virus in your nose for weeks, but you can’t grow that virus in the lab. You can’t spread it, but it can be positive.”

The CDC notes that tests are “best used early in the course of the disease to diagnose COVID-19 and are not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to evaluate duration of infectivity.”

For those who are isolating because of COVID infection, there is no test requirement to end the isolation, but the CDC recommends using a rapid antigen test for those who choose to take one.

Arwady said counseling is likely related to determining whether or not someone has an “active” virus.

“If you do want to get tested, don’t take PCR. Use a rapid antigen test,” she said. “Why? Because the rapid antigen test is the one that will look to see… do you have a high enough level of COVID that you are potentially contagious? Now, a PCR test, remember, can sort of trace the virus for a long time, even if that virus is bad and even if it’s not potentially transmissible.”

Here’s what else you need to know about COVID testing:

How Long After Exposure to COVID Could You Test Positive?

According to the CDC, the incubation period for COVID is between two and 14 days, although the agency’s latest guidelines suggest a five-day quarantine for those unboosted but eligible or unvaccinated. Those wishing to get tested after exposure should do so five days after exposure or if they begin to experience symptoms, the CDC recommends.

Those who have been boosted and vaccinated, or those who have been fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for a booster shot, do not need to be quarantined, but must wear masks for 10 days and also get tested five days after exposure unless they are experiencing symptoms.

But for those who have been vaccinated and given a boost but still want to exercise caution, Arwady said an additional test after seven days could help.

“If you’re taking multiple home tests, you know, the recommendation is to take a test five days later. But if you’ve taken one at five and it’s negative and you’re feeling fine, there’s a very good chance you’ll have I. won’t have any more problems there,” she said. “I think if you’re extra careful there, if you want to test again, you know, at seven o’clock even, sometimes people look at three to get an earlier idea of ​​things. But if you go once do it, then do it in five and I feel good about that.”

Arwady said testing probably isn’t necessary after seven days of exposure for those who have been vaccinated and boosted.

“If you’ve had an exposure, you’ve been vaccinated and boosted. I don’t think it’s necessary to test, frankly, after about seven days,” she said. “If you want to be extra careful you can do it at 10am, but just with what we see I’d think you’re really free. If you’re not vaccinated or boosted, I certainly have a much bigger concern that you’re infecting “Ideally, you’d look for that test at five o’clock and I’d do it again, you know, at seven, possibly ten.”

When is the best time to get tested after exposure?

The CDC states that anyone who may have been exposed to someone with COVID should test five days after their exposure or as soon as symptoms appear.

“If symptoms appear, individuals should be quarantined immediately until a negative test confirms that the symptoms are not due to COVID-19,” the guidance states.

Former director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, previously said incubation times could change, but those who test early should continue testing even if they get negative results.

“Maybe we’ll find out that the incubation period might be a little shorter, so maybe you’re testing at two days,” Ezike said. “Obviously, if you’re symptomatic, you test right away. But you know, if you want to test on two days, but that negative test… the two days shouldn’t make you think, ‘Oh good, I’m clear “Do you know? You may want to test again and of course symptoms you can’t ignore – itchy throat, headache, all sorts of symptoms – anything new could be a symptom of this new disease.”

How quickly can COVID symptoms appear?

According to previous CDC guidelines, COVID symptoms can appear from two to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus.

Anyone showing symptoms should be tested for COVID-19.

Some people may never experience symptoms, although they can still spread the virus.

A person is also considered contagious before symptoms appear.

When are people with COVID most contagious?

The CDC says its guidelines have been updated to reflect growing evidence suggesting that transmission of COVID-19 often occurs one to two days before the onset of symptoms and during the two to three days afterward.

“This has to do with data from the CDC that after seven days has really shown that there is virtually no risk of transmission at this point,” Arwady said. “And in that five to seven day period, you know, there’s some depending on whether people are vaccinated, underlying conditions, etc., but the risk goes down a lot and the feeling is that in the general population, combined with masking, etc. the risk is really very low.”

For people without symptoms, the CDC guideline states that they are considered contagious at least two days before they test positive.

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