Now, more than ever, it’s a good idea to have some quick tests at home so you can test yourself. My colleague Karl Zimmer said that if you tested positive for an antigen, it would be a good idea to have a more sensitive PCR test done. Avoid endangering others by using a walk-through test site or walking to a mobile outdoor test site. If none of these options work, call your doctor and ask for advice.
I tested positive. Now what?
The manual for Omicron is the same as for the other options. If you are vaccinated, the CDC recommends isolating for 10 days and resting. If you live with other people, you should stay in a special “sick room” or area and use a separate bathroom, if available. Wear a mask and don’t share utensils.
The 10-day isolation period begins on the first full day after symptoms appear. If the test is positive but there are no symptoms, the 10-day countdown begins the day after the test is positive. If symptoms occur later, reset the clock. At any time, if you have a warning sign, such as breathing problems, go to the hospital.
Going on vacation. What if I test positive while away from home?
It is a responsible act to isolate yourself for 10 days, but whether or not you have to do this depends on where you are traveling.
In the US, everyone decides how to proceed. States, airlines, airports, or most other modes of transport do not require a negative coronavirus test from domestic travelers, with a few exceptions. Dr. Emily Wolf, president of the College of American Pathologists, says isolating after a positive test is “morally and ethically correct.”
If you test positive while traveling internationally, the rules will depend on where you are. In some places you will not be allowed to board the plane, while in other places you may need to stay in a public hospital for more than 10 days. If you are traveling overseas, here are some tips: study local regulations and pack as if you are about to get stuck.