I’VE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19—NOW WHAT?
If you receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, you may be surprised, especially if you haven't had any symptoms of the disease. You may also feel afraid and unsure of what you should do next. The information and recommendations on this page can help you decide on your next steps.
There’s no way to know how you or anyone else will react to a SARS-CoV-2 infection or the COVID-19 disease. However, most people who have COVID-19 don’t get seriously ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of people with COVID-19—more than 99.5%—survive the disease. Each case of COVID-19 is different, depending on the patient’s age and other health conditions.
There is no cure for COVID-19 yet, but healthcare providers are using several treatments for patients with more serious symptoms to help the body fight the disease and minimize its long-term impact. For patients with no symptoms, there are clinical trials that you can join to help support research around potential treatments. Talk with your healthcare provider to see which treatments may be appropriate for you if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
In the meantime, it’s important that you stay home, except to get medical care, until it’s safe for you to be around others. You could spread the disease to other people even if you don’t feel sick. If you do leave your home for medical care, wear a face mask. Isolate yourself. This means staying away from others, even in your home. The CDC recommends that people with COVID-19 stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if one is available).
I TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, HAVE MILD TO MODERATE SYMPTOMS, AND AM AT HIGH RISK FOR DEVELOPING SEVERE ILLNESS. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
People at high risk for developing severe symptoms of COVID-19 include older adults and people with underlying conditions such as cancer, heart and lung conditions, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, sickle cell, or compromised (weakened) immune systems.
If you have mild to moderate symptoms and you’re at high risk, stay in touch with your healthcare provider. Ask them about treatment options that may help you and others at high risk for severe illness stay out of the hospital and/or avoid progression to severe illness.
If you develop any of the emergency warning signs (see list on the right), call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency care center or facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
If your symptoms get worse, you should call your healthcare provider immediately. Tell the healthcare provider that you have tested positive for COVID-19. This will help the office take steps to keep other people from being exposed.
If you or someone else is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Confusion you have not experienced before
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
HELP FIND TREATMENTS THAT WORK
Because the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a novel or new virus, we’re still learning about it. The only way to find treatments that will work is to conduct clinical trials with experimental drugs. The clinical trials available here give you access to drugs that already have been tested for safety in smaller populations.
If you join one of these clinical trials, you will contribute to a better scientific understanding of COVID-19 and lead to treatments that will help others.
Patients with COVID-19 are critical for the success of drug trials. One of the largest needs is for a diverse population of individuals from all backgrounds. Researchers need to understand if COVID-19 behaves differently in patients depending on gender, race, and age, so it’s important for research to represent all of America.
The knowledge coming from these trials will help others in their own fight against COVID-19.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER MY COVID-19 SYMPTOMS GO AWAY?
Recovering from COVID-19 can take time and patience. In one study, more than half of the patients surveyed were still feeling fatigued (very tired) 60 days after their first COVID-19 symptoms appeared, four in 10 patients still had labored breathing, and more than a quarter still had joint pain.
Mental and emotional health effects are also common among people who have had COVID-19; these effects can include memory problems, difficulty focusing, anxiety, and depression. The effects are often more serious for patients who had other health conditions before they had COVID-19.
The collection of physical and mental health symptoms reported by people after recovering from COVID-19 illness is known as “post-COVID-19 syndrome.” Health researchers are studying it today, but it’s too early to say which of these issues are directly related to the virus, and which are the result of a compromised immune system.
If you have lingering physical and/or mental health effects of COVID-19, see your healthcare provider. They may need to call on different specialists to develop the best strategy for your recovery.