Health & Wellness

You’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Now what?

Getting a positive COVID-19 result can not only be stressful and anxiety-inducing, it can also make you wonder, “What do I do now?”

First things first: Talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you understand what your test results can mean to you by considering your medical history, symptoms, and other factors. We’ve also put together the following resource covering self-care tips, seeking emergency medical care, CDC’s guide to ending isolation, retesting, and more, so read on for this key information.

Self-care tips

Here are some self-care tips that can help during this stressful time:

  • Drink much liquid. Staying hydrated while feeling sick helps fight infection. In general, it is a good rule of thumb to drink 6-8 glasses of water / day, 8 oz per glass. Foods like soups, fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as melon and cucumber, also count as fluid sources. Not sure if you are getting enough fluids? If you are well hydrated, your urine should be a light color.
  • Get enough rest. Rest as long as you need. This can mean sleeping 8-10 hours a day, and that’s fine – your body needs it.
  • Eat a balanced diet, as much as possible. In general, a balanced diet is ideal, but at the height of feeling bad and feverish, our appetites are often suppressed. However, try to choose lean protein sources, fruits and vegetables that are rich sources of vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc. All of these play an important role in supporting immune function.
  • Consider smaller, more frequent meals. Smaller meals are an excellent solution for early satiety (or feeling full quickly). Aiming for around 4-6 small meals per day can help maximize calorie intake once someone has passed the acute phase (first 24-48 hours) of illness.
  • A humidifier can help you breathe easier. Symptoms such as congestion, runny nose, dry cough and sore throat often make breathing difficult. But a humidifier can help relieve congestion and a cough. It is important to regularly clean the water and filter of your humidifier to prevent mold buildup, and if you have a respiratory condition diagnosed as asthma, it may be a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before using a humidifier.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about which over-the-counter pain reliever would be best for fighting body aches.

Stay in close contact with your healthcare provider if symptoms worsen, and be sure to ask your healthcare provider about your risk factors for developing serious complications from COVID-19.

While information on COVID-19 is continually evolving, current evidence suggests that older people and people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are among those who are at increased risk for complications.

Seeking emergency medical attention

It is important to seek emergency medical attention if you (or someone you know) are experiencing warning signs, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

CDC guidelines to when it is safe to end isolation

According to current literature, symptoms can develop between 2 and 14 days after exposure to the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is believed that people with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms, while others can be contagious up to 20 days after symptoms begin.

Before ending home insulation, the CDC recommends that you wait until a minimum of 10 days have passed since you started experiencing symptoms, you have not had a fever for at least 24 hours (and you have not taken fever reducing medications ) and your symptoms have improved.

If you tested positive but did not experience any symptoms, the CDC recommends waiting until 10 days have passed since the test was done.


Ask your healthcare provider if, and when, they advise you to retest after your initial positive result. According to CDC guidelines:

  • If you have had COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive, you may be in contact with others (and end isolation) if you receive two consecutive negative test results (at least 24 hours apart), do not have a fever, and symptoms respiratory have improved.
  • If you tested positive but had no symptoms, you can resume contact with others if you then test negative twice in a row (at least 24 hours apart).

Making sure the test results are negative can allow you to return to work (depending on your employer) or your normal daily routine with the peace of mind that you are not exposing others to the virus.

Protect yourself and prevent the spread of the disease

You can reduce your chances of getting infected or spreading COVID-19 by following these general rules.

  • Stay home, unless you need medical attention
  • Keep a distance and limit contact with other people
  • Tell your healthcare provider that you are sick before any in-person appointment
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your sneeze or cough
  • Keep “high contact” surfaces clean daily
  • Watch for your symptoms
  • Do not share personal household items
Back to top button