Illinois' top public health official on Wednesday detailed the best timeframe in which to get tested for coronavirus after a potential exposure: at least six or seven days later.
"You need to wait at least six to seven days after your exposure to get tested because that's a better chance of actually showing a positive test result," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at a news conference, delivering an update on the pandemic alongside Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"If you find out a day after; you got contacted by your friend that the day before they were positive and you were with them just that day before, it's too soon to get a test," she continued. "So please, a six-or-seven-day window after your exposure is the ideal time to get tested."
Ezike went on to explain that the state has seen "many individuals" who did not test positive on day six or seven after an exposure - but developed symptoms later.
"Up to 30% of people might not test positive or develop symptoms on day eight, nine, 10, up to day 14," she said. "So in the interest of not spreading it to other people, we have to do that 14-day quarantine."
Ezike insisted that any residents who learn that a friend, relative or contact of theirs tested positive quarantine at home for two weeks - regardless of symptoms, test results or any other factors.
"Even if that test is negative, a negative test does not buy you out of the 14-day timeout," Ezike said. "I know that's hard to take. You're feeling fine, you got an initial test, it says you're negative. But that test is not enough to take you out of the 14-day timeout."
She also pleaded with everyone to keep track of where they have been and who they've been in contact with just in case.
"To help the general process, please, we have to be vigilant. Keep track of where you have been and who you have been around in the event that you do test positive, that you can help identify as the contact tracers reach out to you, as you even take your own personal responsibility to reach out to those who may have been exposed," she said.
"Make sure you notify your employer, your social networks, your family networks, your religious groups, your sports groups," Ezike added. "Please be a responsible citizen and share to people who may have been exposed in case you get to them before the contact tracers do."
Illinois health officials on Wednesday reported 1,187 new cases of coronavirus, along with eight additional deaths. Those figures brought the statewide total number of cases to 156,693, with 7,226 deaths reported.
Illinois has conducted more than 2 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began, officials say, with the rolling seven-day positivity rate currently sitting at just over 3%.