Why Can’t You Test Out of Your COVID-19 Quarantine?

You can’t test out of your 14 day COVID-19 quarantine after you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Most people understand that they can’t test out of quarantine, right?

A quick reminder that close contacts of someone with COVID-19 need to quarantine for 14 days.
A quick reminder that close contacts of someone with COVID-19 need to quarantine for 14 days.

After all, if they are around others before their quarantine is over, they could end up exposing others to COVID-19!

Why Can’t You Test Out of Your COVID-19 Quarantine?

But why can’t you just test out of your COVID-19 quarantine?

Basically, if you have a negative COVID-19 test early in your quarantine period, it doesn’t mean that you can’t develop symptoms or test positive later on.

“If you are tested and the test is negative, do you still have to be quarantined?
Yes. Someone exposed to a person with COVID-19 needs a 14-day quarantine regardless of test results. This is because COVID-19 can develop between two and 14 days after an exposure.”

Coronavirus Questions and Answers

Testing negative doesn’t get you out of quarantine.

A negative test simply means that you don’t have an active infection. It doesn’t mean that the SARS-CoV-2 virus isn’t still incubating inside you. And no, we can’t test for that.

So why get tested?

“If you do not have symptoms, it is best to get tested between 5-7 days after you’ve been in a high-risk situation.  If your test is negative, get tested again around 12 days after the event. It can take 2-14 days for COVID-19 to develop, so even if you test negative once, you could still develop COVID-19 later and spread it unknowingly.”

Symptoms and Testing: COVID-19

Getting tested can be helpful because some people can test positive even if they don’t have symptoms, they can still be contagious, and this can help with contact tracing and can help you warn others that you exposed them to COVID-19.

Ideally, since you are in quarantine, you would not have exposed anyone else though…

And if you test positive?

Well, technically that does get you out of quarantine, but only to move you to a period of isolation, which is basically a stricter form of quarantine and lasts at least 10 days.

More on Testing out of Quarantine

Author: Vincent Iannelli, MD

Vincent Iannelli, MD