When to be Tested for COVID-19

In Georgia, anyone who wants a COVID-19 test is eligible for testing through public health. But it’s also important to understand when you should be tested to get the most accurate result.

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

It can be alarming to find out you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and your first instinct may be to get tested right away.

Unfortunately, if you test too early, you may not have enough virus particles in your body to test positive. Even if you are infected, an early test may come back negative. If you go back to your usual routine too early, you could unknowingly spread the virus to people around you.

It can take up to 14 days from exposure for your infection to develop. That’s why quarantine should be your first step after exposure to someone with COVID-19. If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the best, safest thing you can do is stay home and monitor your health for 14 days. Remain at home, avoid gathering in groups, avoid public activities, and practice social distancing. If you MUST go out, be sure to wear a face mask.

You should be tested for COVID-19 at least once during your quarantine. It is preferred that the sample is not collected more than 48 hours prior to the planned end of your quarantine period, but should not be collected before day 5 of your quarantine.

Although a 14-day quarantine is the safest, the earliest timeframe you can leave quarantine is after 7 full days have passed since your most recent exposure. You should obtain a test earlier in your quarantine if you experience any symptoms of illness.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been exposed to someone with the virus, you should get tested. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Fever (measured temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or you feel feverish)
  • 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

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