Do’s and Don’ts of COVID-19 Testing
With updated information coming out every day on coronavirus (COVID-19), it is easy to be confused by what steps you should take to keep you and your family healthy. Below, we go through the do’s and don’ts regarding testing for COVID-19. Please note that in December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their recommendations regarding COVID-19 exposure quarantine. While this doesn't apply to healthcare workers and other essential personnel, the guidance now states that quarantine can end after five days (rather than 10) with no testing and no symptoms. Quarantine can end after five days with a negative test and no symptoms.
Do: Isolate If You Test Positive for COVID-19
Guidelines for everyone, regardless of vaccination status:
- Stay home for 5 days.
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house.
- Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.
Don’t: Get tested if you have no symptoms. Here’s why:
- There are still limited numbers of tests available and they need to be reserved for people who need them most.
- COVID-19 tests are effective only if a person is showing symptoms. People without symptoms may test negative (false negative result) even though they carry the virus and are asymptomatic. It's important to be tested only if you have symptoms.
Do: Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor before you seek out testing.
- There are still specific criteria in place for those who need to be tested. Call your doctor before seeking out testing sites.
- Symptoms can be like flu or cold symptoms, and new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, fever or sudden loss of smell or taste . If you develop these symptoms or have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19:
- Call the Ochsner COVID-19 Info Line, our free nurse care line at 1-844-888-2772
- For general information, dial the Louisiana hotline, 211, or text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211.
Do: Take actions to keep your immune system strong:
- Managing your stress levels, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet can all help boost your immunity.
- Practice social distancing to help prevent the likelihood that you will become infected.
- Don’t touch your eyes, mouth or nose. Virus particles that may be on your hands can infect your body through these entry points.
- Wash your hands. OFTEN. According to the Centers for Disease Control, handwashing can help prevent disease in yourself and in others. Follow these steps every time you eat, after you use the bathroom, and as often as possible.
- Step 1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Step 2. Lather soap in your hands, applying to the back, front, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Step 3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Step 4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Step 5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Do: Stay at home and take self-quarantine seriously.
- If your circumstances allow it, work from home.
- Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy, long-lasting foods to avoid having to make repeat trips to the grocery store.
- This does not mean you shouldn’t go outside and enjoy the weather. Try to enjoy solitary outdoor activities like gardening or taking a solitary walk. Getting enough sunlight and fresh air can be important for mental health and wellness.
Do: Call your doctor or start a video visit for further action if:
- You have interacted with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
- You are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Do: Stay home if you are not feeling well.
- While no one wants to miss out on holiday time with their families, people who are not feeling well should stay home. We encourage people to take an at-home rapid test if available. Whether or not you test positive for COVID, it is safer for everyone if you stay home when not feeling well.
Don’t: Let a negative COVID-19 test change your precautions.
- This is the time of year that flu and other respiratory viruses are present in our community. Just because you have a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean it’s safe to engage with others in large crowds or stop using your mask. If you do not feel well, with any symptoms, please stay home and help prevent the spread of all contagious viruses in the community. If you do have to leave your home, please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Don’t: Go to an urgent care or emergency department if you are not in need of urgent or emergency care.
- Emergency departments and urgent care clinics are for those who need urgent or life-saving care. If you are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and are seeking a COVID-19 test, please visit ochsner.org/testing or ldh.la.gov for community testing locations. We also recommend at-home testing, and many of the at-home rapid test kits are the same tests Ochsner utilizes in various healthcare settings.
Do: Get vaccinated or get boosted.
- Vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death and are now available for children ages 5 and up. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do.
- If you haven’t received your booster, get your booster shot today. Booster shots offer a significantly increased level of protection. Getting vaccinated is the best gift you can give yourself, your family, friends and community this holiday season.
Do: Stay home if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)
Guidelines if you have been boosted, completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months or completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months:
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
- Test on day 5, if possible.
If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
Guidelines if you completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted, completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted or are unvaccinated
- Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
- If you can’t quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days.
- Test on day 5 if possible.
If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.