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You have an at-home COVID-19 test. What do you do if it's positive?

WRVO News File Photo.
WRVO News File Photo.

The omicron variant of COVID-19 is continuing to spread at a rapid pace across New York and the nation. Rapid at-home COVID tests are becoming more important in the fight against the virus. Thousands of tests will be distributed by local, state and federal governments in the coming weeks.

But what happens if an at-home test is positive?

Upstate University Hospital infectious disease expert Dr. Elizabeth Asiago Reddy said positive results mean one thing at this point. Individuals must quarantine. But she admits that’s not so easy.

“Many people have commented that the most significant challenge they face if they have COVID is that period of isolation, of essentially being by themselves,” said Ruddy. “If they are the only person in a household with COVID it’s very difficult to stay by yourself."

But what does quarantining mean? Ideally staying in a room away from other people, with access to a bathroom, if possible. And for anyone who is positive who needs to leave their room, it’s important to wear a mask. Reddy also suggests all family members get tested, because often the virus spreads easily at home, and anyone testing positive should contact their doctor.

“Stay at home, contact your health care provider, they can get a sense of how you’re doing and if there are any additional treatments you can benefit from,” Reddy said. “And let people know who have been around you. And that’s anyone you’ve had close contact in the prior two days of testing positive.”

Anyone with questions can also call their local county health department to report a case, and receive quarantine protocols.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that people who test positive for the coronavirus need to isolate themselves for only five days if they don't show symptoms. The earlier recommendation was 10 days of isolation. The CDC explains that the data shows most coronavirus transmission "occurs early in the course of illness."