Are you still contagious after testing negative for COVID-19?
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, various organizations have provided guidance on testing, incubation periods, and quarantine times. As many of us are still cautious about spreading this unpredictable and dangerous disease, understanding the contagiousness of the virus remains crucial in curbing its spread.
While getting tested for COVID-19 is an effective way to confirm whether you have the virus, it’s important to know that testing negative doesn’t necessarily mean you’re no longer contagious.
In this article, GatherWell will explain why some tests are not 100% accurate and what you can do to protect yourself and those around you. You may still be contagious even after testing negative for COVID-19. That’s why we’re here to show you how to receive one of the most accurate COVID-19 tests on the market.
COVID-19 Incubation Time
First, let’s take a look at COVID-19 incubation time.
COVID-19 incubation time is the period between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms. It’s essential to note that during the incubation period, an infected individual can spread the virus to others. The average incubation period for COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days, with an average of 5-6 days. However, some people may not develop symptoms until up to 14 days after exposure, while others may not show any symptoms at all.
What does this mean for testing? You should get tested around three days after exposure to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID. However, if you test too early in the incubation period, you might not receive a positive result. If you test negative for COVID but then feel cold or flu symptoms, get tested 48 hours after your initial test.
Accuracy of COVID-19 Tests
It’s important to note that no COVID-19 test is 100% accurate. False-negative test results are possible, meaning that someone could test negative for COVID but still be infected and contagious. Factors that could lead to false-negative COVID test results include the timing of the test, the type of test used, and the quality of the sample collected.
At-home tests are particularly unreliable as user error may occur, and test expiration dates can lead to an ineffective test.
Additionally, a person may test negative for COVID-19 on one day and then become infected and test positive at a later date. This underscores the need for continued vigilance, even after testing negative.
Recommended Isolation Time
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who think they have COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others until they can get tested. If the COVID test is negative, but the individual still has symptoms, they should continue to isolate for five days from the onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test.
As of December 2021, the isolation period has been reduced from 10 days to five days.
For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.
Those who are vaccinated with booster shots do not need to isolate unless they are experiencing symptoms. Even if you don’t have COVID, it’s never a good idea to risk spreading the regular flu to others. Plus, you’ll recover more quickly if you stay home, rest, and drink plenty of liquids.
A Negative Test Does Not Mean You Are 100% No Longer Contagious
Testing negative for COVID-19 does not necessarily mean that you’re no longer contagious. The incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to 14 days, during which an infected individual can spread the virus. COVID-19 tests are not 100% accurate, and false-negative results are possible. The CDC recommends that people who think they have COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others until they can get tested, and those who test positive should isolate themselves for a minimum of 5 days, depending on vaccination status. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and take all necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
Get Accurate and Convenient COVID Tests from GatherWell
GatherWell is your destination for COVID testing in the Twin Cities area. We offer a wide variety of tests, including PCR/RT-PCR, NAAT, and antigen tests. These tests have been authorized for FDA Emergency Use and are extremely accurate compared to at-home tests.
We test you from your car and deliver results within the hour. It’s convenient, affordable, and accurate. Even great for international travel!
If you’re wondering if you are still contagious after testing negative for COVID, then we recommend you set up a COVID test through GatherWell’s online portal. Just click the blue button above to get started.