cdc covid guidelines

When is the Best Time to Get Tested After COVID Exposure?

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Testing is an important part of both quarantine and isolation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following exposure to someone with coronavirus. But when is the best time to get tested for COVID if you've been exposed?

Changes sparked by the omicron variant resulted in new guidance from the CDC last year, which shifted the timing for isolation and quarantine.

Regardless of symptoms or vaccinations, those who were in close contact with someone who had coronavirus should get tested five days after their exposure.

Close contact is defined by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health as "someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period."

Those who develop symptoms should get tested as symptoms develop, but if a test is negative and symptoms persist another test might be needed a few days later, particularly for those who use at-home test kits.

Anyone who tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate, according to the CDC.

Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting test results or have not yet been tested should also isolate, "even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19," the CDC states.

Only those who are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their vaccinations need to quarantine following exposure to someone with COVID.

For the latest details on how long to isolate or quarantine, click here.

While testing out of isolation is not required, the CDC says those who choose to should use an antigen test and not a PCR test. These can be taken toward the end of the isolation period.

"Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved," the CDC states. "If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10."

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