Your quick and easy guide to reporting a positive COVID test

It's more than okay to snitch when it's on Omicron.

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Even if it’s a mild case, testing positive for COVID is scary. When you’re sick and high on cold meds, it’s easy to forget how important it is to report your results to your doctor and local health officials.

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If you’re not sure how to report your at-home COVID test results, well, that’s because it’s confusing. Here’s how to do it.

Make a list

You will likely need to spill your guts to a health official about your habits and whereabouts. Don’t worry — they’re legally required to keep that information private.

To prepare, make a list of the test you took (brand, rapid or regular, antigen or PCR); the date you took it; when your symptoms started; your vaccination status, which vaccines you got and when; any OTC meds you’ve taken; and names of people you were in close proximity with a few days before your test result.

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Call your doctor

You want to make sure that your primary care physician knows your test results. Knowing your COVID status makes it easier for doctors to provide care — they may need a heads up in case you need prescriptions or admission to a hospital.

And, looking forward, you want to make sure that your health records are up-to-date in case you experience any symptoms in the future that may be related to what you’re going through now.

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Contact your local health department

Your local health officials may be able to help you figure out how to find resources and who else to contact.

The C.D.C. has a public database of local health departments, but you can also just google your city and “health department.” Some home tests, like BinaxNow, have a telehealth support option that will help you report your case.

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I know that it’s confusing that there isn’t any actual requirement to report your test results to anyone, but it is really important.

Reporting at-home results helps health officials figure out out how to staff health care facilities, make sure there are enough medical supplies on hand for those in need, and it helps us understand and predict pandemic surges and trends.

With all the self-testing going on, we really don't have a good number of the case counts.

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At-home COVID tests make testing more convenient, but if we want to help other people in our communities stay well, we gotta report our results, tell the people we work with, and anyone we may have come into contact with two days before symptoms.

If you’re not sure who to tell, the C.D.C. has a worksheet to help you figure it out there’s an anonymous contact tool if you want to keep your personal health information very private.