Ordered to quarantine but test negative? You’re not off the hook.

WWL Newsroom
July 04, 2020 - 3:52 pm

If you have had significant exposure to a person with COVID-19 but still test negative, should you go back to work before your 14-day quarantine ends? Health experts say no.

Ochsner Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Sandra Kemmerly says if you get exposed and immediately seek a COVID test, the answer may not be helpful.

“If I get tested today or tomorrow, and even maybe for days from now, the probability is that I will test negative,” says Kemmerly.

Significant exposure is having contact with a COVID-positive person within six feet for 15 minutes or more.

Kemmerly says that is because the virus can take days, or even over a week, to build up in your system enough to actually be detected by current tests.

“The virus needs time to enter the nasal passages, replicate, and have enough virus presence to be detected,” says Kemmerly.

And, on the topic of testing for COVID, the recent increase in demand for testing as cases surge in Louisiana has Ochsner announcing they will no longer test non-symptomatic patients.

“We, like everyone else, in this country ared expierencing significant challenges getting these testing kits,” says Kemmerly. She says they are saving those kits for symptomatic patients in urgent care and emergency room facilities.

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