tThe scary scenario has happened: You test positive for COVID-19 at the worst of times, with Holiday travel, parties or family gatherings are just days away. Does this mean that your plans are doomed to failure?
Even nearly three years into the pandemic, the answer is surprisingly complex.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most people with COVID-19 are mild Isolation can end Five full days after a positive test or onset of symptoms, as long as they have been fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms are improving. The CDC considers the day you tested positive or developed symptoms as day zero; The five-day isolation period begins the next day.
However, there is a difference between End isolation And the Fly to a big holiday gathering. During the 10th day, the CDC recommends staying away from people who are at high risk of COVID-19, such as the elderly or those who are immunocompromised. If you’ll be around others, the agency says to wear a high-quality mask, such as N95 or KN95. You can throw off the mask before the 10th day if you test negative on two separate antigen tests 48 hours apart, the CDC says.
This pair of negative results is not guaranteed, even after five days of isolation. at recent days JAMA Network is open study80% of people with COVID-19 symptoms during the first wave of Omicron Tested positive in rapid tests for a period of more than five days.
In short: You can still test positive, and likely still be infectious, after an initial five-day isolation. What does that mean for your vacation plans? We asked two experts – Dr. Peter Chen Hong, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Tara Bouton, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine who has I looked up COVID-19 isolation periods—for evaluation in several scenarios.
If your plans fall within five days of a positive test
Stay home, cancel all travel, and stay in touch with your loved ones virtually. This advice can be hard to hear, especially around the holidays, but it’s “universally agreed upon,” says Chen Hong.
If it has been more than five days and the test result is still positive
If your symptoms haven’t improved after five days, the CDC says you should remain in isolation.
If you feel better but still test positive after five days, there is a chance you may still be contagious. “The clear directive is that you should not unmask others,” Bouton says. If you want to attend a holiday gathering, the safest step is to wear a quality mask at all times.
This is especially important if you need to travel by plane, bus, or train to get to the party. If the test result was positive 10 days ago or less and your spouse has not received the negative test results, The CDC says not to use public transportation Unless you can Stay masked the entire time. When deciding whether to travel, Bouton recommends considering not only your plans, but everyone else who will be traveling with you. “Do you want your grandmother to sit next to her [a person testing positive] on a plane? Bouton asks.
If it’s been more than five days and your test is negative
Under CDC guidance, you need a pair of negative antigen test results, received 48 hours apart, to remove the mask around others before the 10th day. But is it okay to unmask before that if I tested negative once?
“It depends on which company you keep,” says Chen Hong. If you’re planning to spend the holidays with people who are at risk for serious illness, it’s smart to either wait for a second negative test or keep your mask on all day 10.
But “if I’m only going out with college friends and I’m negative on day seven, I’ll feel good being normal with them, without wearing a mask,” says Chen Hong. (It’s still a good idea to inform everyone you plan to see in advance and gauge their risk tolerance before removing the mask.)
If you test negative but have lingering symptoms, Chen Hong adds, it’s wise to be extra careful around those at risk. “If you have a lingering cough, it probably isn’t enough to not see my grandmother,” he says. “I’d wear a mask when I’m close, but I wouldn’t go crazy.”
If you experience a baxlovid rebound
The antiviral Paxlovid can significantly reduce the chances of high-risk individuals dying or being hospitalized if they contract COVID-19. But some people who use drugs experience what’s known as “Paxlovid recoveryIt’s possible to be contagious during the rebound phase, Bouton says, so if that happens to you, you should “consider extending the isolation period.”
If it has been more than 10 days and the test result is still positive
It is somewhat uncommon for someone who is not immunocompromised to test positive on a home test for longer than 10 days, but it does happen. (This scenario is more common with PCR tests, which can detect even small fragments of the virus.)
“I usually tell people, ‘Don’t bother testing after day 10,’” Chen Hong says. Unless you’re immunocompromised, Bouton agrees, you probably won’t be contagious at this point, even if you test positive.
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