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CDC Says You Can Check For COVID Without Leaving Your Home

Everything you need to know about at-home COVID tests.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Alek Korab
Woman holds a swab into her mouth and holding a medical tube for the coronavirus home test.

One of the most difficult aspects of controlling the COVID-19 health pandemic is identifying those infected with the potentially deadly virus. While testing has evolved over the last year, making it easier to get tested and receive prompt results, it usually involves a potentially infected individual leaving their home and possibly exposing others to the virus. However, with the introduction of at-home testing, you can find out if you are carrying the virus in the comfort of your own home, according to newly published guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

The CDC, For the First Time, Advises on At-Home COVID-19 Testing

"At-home testing and collection allow you to collect a specimen at home and either send it to a testing facility or perform the test at home," they explain in a new article published Monday. "You and your healthcare provider might consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or if you can't get tested at a local healthcare facility."

They explain that at-home collection kits, approved by the FDA in November and December 2020, can be used by individuals to collect a specimen—either nasal swab or saliva—while at home and then send it to a testing facility. "Most of the at-home collection kits are prescription only, but some of them can be purchased without a prescription," they explain. 

If you are interested in an at-home kit, they suggest contacting your healthcare provider. "Some of these tests require a prescription from your healthcare provider, and some require a health assessment and a laboratory order. Others do not require a prescription, a health assessment, or a laboratory order," they write. 

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors

What Happens After the Test

Once it arrives, you should follow the instructions provided to collect a nasal or saliva specimen. "For proper nasal specimen collection and accuracy of test results, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Some tests require an anterior nasal swab and some require a nasal mid-turbinate swab. To properly collect a saliva specimen for accurate test results, make sure the amount of saliva reaches the fill line on the collection device," they add. 

Once your results come back, you should share them with your healthcare provider, who is responsible for reporting your test results to the state health department. "If the at-home test has an app that allows you to report your results to the state health department, inform your healthcare provider whether you used that app for results reporting," they add.

While a negative test means that "COVID-19 was not found in your specimen," they do point out that false negatives are possible.  "Discuss your symptoms and test results with your healthcare provider to determine if you need follow-up testing," they say. 

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

What to Do if You Test Positive for COVID-19

If the test is positive, report to your healthcare provider and stay in contact with them for the duration of your illness. 

"To avoid spreading the virus to others, follow CDC recommendations. These recommendations include isolating for at least 10 days since symptom onset and until you have at least 24 hours without a fever," they add. "During the 24 hours, you should monitor your temperature without taking medications that will reduce your fever (for example, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin)."

Finally, if your results show an invalid result or an error, the test did not work properly and you should refer to the instructions for use in the package insert and contact the manufacturer for assistance. So do that, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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