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Sure Signs You Need a COVID Test, According to the CDC

If you experience any of these scenarios, be sure to get a test post-haste.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

There's a "light at the end of the tunnel," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, of the coronavirus vaccine, which is currently being administered to high priority Americans. But until we all reach herd immunity, we're still in the tunnel—along with COVID-19. As the new surge fills hospitals and cities lockdown, you may be wondering if you have the virus—and when to get a test. Here are the "considerations for who should get tested," according to the CDC. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


Get Tested if You Have Symptoms of COVID-19

woman covered by a blanket on the sofa with high fever and flu

"People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness," says the CDC. "Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms," but they are the most common.


Get Tested if You Have Had Close Contact With Someone With Confirmed COVID-19

A man looking after his suffering girlfriend.

The CDC defines "close contact" as "someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated."


Get Tested if You Have Taken Part in These Activities That Put You at Higher Risk

Middle aged couple at an airport during coronavirus pandemic.

"…because they cannot socially distance as needed, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings," says the CDC. "Outdoors is better than indoors," says Dr. Fauci—and he and the CDC have both advised that travel is a high risk activity, as well.


Get Tested if You Have Been Asked or Referred to Get Testing

female doctor or nurse wearing face protective medical mask for protection from virus disease with computer and clipboard calling on phone at hospital

If you have been asked by your healthcare provider, local or state ​health department to get a test, it's best you do so, says the CDC.


How to Get Tested for a Current COVID-19 Infection

Staff testing a driver for coronavirus

"Not everyone needs to be tested," says the CDC. "If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional." They continue:

There are "two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
  • An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection.

"You can visit your state or local health department's website to look for the latest local information on testing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first."


What to Do After You Get Your Results

mask looking through window. Important job and self isolation during coronavirus pandemic.
  • "If you test positive, know what protective steps to take to prevent others from getting sick.
  • If you test negative, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. Continue to take steps to protect yourself."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Be Back to "Normal"


How to Survive This Pandemic

Female Wearing Face Mask and Social Distancing

As for yourself, follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, get tested if you meet any of the criteria you've just read about, 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
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