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Symptoms and testing

Call your doctor

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Read about COVID-19 Symptoms

Last updated June 26, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Maybe; not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. Most people have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and may not need to be tested.

CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are made by state and local health departments and healthcare providers.

You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.

For more CDC testing resources, see

Last updated September 18, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

The process and locations for testing vary from place to place. Contact your state, local, tribal, or territorial department for more information, or reach out to a medical provider. State and local public health departments have received tests from CDC while medical providers are getting tests developed by commercial manufacturers. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find someplace to get tested. See Testing for COVID-19 for more information.

Last updated March 23, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

In general, for diagnostic tests, samples are collected from a person’s nose and/or throat using swabs or other collection devices by a healthcare provider in a health care setting. A healthcare professional swabbing the back of the nasal cavity through the nostril is the preferred way to collect a sample to test for COVID-19. Alternatively, a healthcare professional may swab the back of your throat or the inside of the front of the nose. Certain tests may also allow collection of alternative sample types. Additionally, the FDA has authorized some tests for use with home sample collection kits that are prescribed by a doctor and allow the patient to collect the sample at home and send it directly to the lab for analysis.

Learn more about Coronavirus Testing Basics.

Last updated October 16, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
  • An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection.

Find out who should get tested. Protect yourself and others. Wear a mask, wash hands often, and stay 6 feet from others.

Last updated October 09, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Antibody testing checks a sample of a person’s blood to look for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies are produced when someone has been infected, so a positive result from this test indicates that person was previously infected with the virus.

CDC is working with other federal agencies to evaluate the performance of commercially manufactured antibody tests that are becoming increasingly available from healthcare providers. This evaluation is expected to be completed in early May.

We do not know yet if the antibodies that result from infection with SARS-CoV-2 can protect someone from reinfection with this virus (immunity) or how long antibodies to the virus will protect someone. Scientists are conducting research to answer those questions.

Antibody tests may not be able to tell you if you are currently infected because it typically takes 1 to 3 weeks to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. To tell if you are currently infected, you would need a test that identifies the virus in samples from your upper respiratory system, such as a nasopharyngeal swab.

Last updated April 30, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should be tested, even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. The health department may be able to provide resources for testing in your area.

  • While you are waiting for your COVID-19 test result, stay home away from others (self-quarantine) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 to protect your friends, family, and others from possibly getting COVID-19.
  • If your test is positive, you should continue to stay home and self-isolate away from others and monitor your health. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and they worsen or become severe, you should seek emergency medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face. Someone from the health department may call you to
    • Check on your health,
    • Discuss who you have been around, and
    • Ask where you have spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others.
  • The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Check your local health department’s website for information about options in your area to possibly shorten this quarantine period.
  • If your test is negative and you don’t have symptoms, you should continue to stay home and self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. This is important because symptoms can appear up to 14 days after you’ve been exposed and are infected. A negative result before the end of your quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. Additionally, you do not need a repeat test unless you develop symptoms, or if you require a test to return to work.
  • If your test is negative and you have symptoms, you should continue to self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. Additional medical consultation and a second test may be needed if your symptoms do not improve.

Last updated December 10, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Yes, it is possible. You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others. See Testing for Current Infection for more information.

Last updated January 14, 2021
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

Yes. At-home testing and collection allow you to collect a specimen at home and either send it to a testing facility or perform the test at home.

You and your healthcare provider might consider either an at-home collection kit or an at-home test if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or if you can’t get testing at a local healthcare facility.

For more information, see At-home testing

Last updated December 28, 2020
Sources: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site, Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

We learn more about COVID-19 every day. As more information becomes available, CDC will continue to update and share information. As our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 evolves, this guidance may change. Based on the best available evidence at this time:

  • CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools.
  • Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day.
  • Students who are sick should not attend school in-person.

Last updated August 07, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you to check on your health, discuss who you have been around, and ask where you spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others. You will also be asked to continue to stay at home and self-isolate, away from others.

  • Your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with.
  • The health department staff will not ask you for
    • Money
    • Social Security number
    • Bank account information
    • Salary information, or
    • Credit card numbers
  • Self-isolation means staying at home in a specific room away from other people and pets, and using a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Self-isolation helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help protect the health of your family, friends, neighbors, and others you may come in contact.
  • If you need support or assistance while in self-isolation, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.

Watch for or monitor your symptoms of COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, you should seek medical care.

Last updated September 03, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

If you were around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you to let you know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Check your local health department’s website for information about options in your area to possibly shorten this quarantine period. Health department staff will help identify the dates for your self-quarantine. Health department staff can also provide resources for COVID-19 testing in your area.

  • Self-quarantine means staying home away from others and monitoring your health.
  • If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask. This will help protect the people around you.
  • If you need support or assistance while in self-quarantine, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.

Monitor your health and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you were exposed to COVID-19. Tell the health department if you develop any symptoms. Tell people you were around recently if you become ill, so they can monitor their health. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, seek medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.

The health department staff will not ask you for

  • Money
  • Social Security number
  • Bank account information
  • Salary information, or
  • Credit card numbers

Last updated December 10, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

If you have had close contact with an infected person, stay home for 14 days and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others at all times.

  • Self-monitor for symptoms.
    • Check temperature twice a day.
    • Watch for fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If symptoms develop, contact your health provider and follow CDC guidance.

For more information about how to protect yourself, see the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others.

Last updated August 07, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

You can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared; and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
  • COVID-19 symptoms have improved (for example, cough, shortness of breath).

Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others; however, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.

Note that these recommendations do not apply to persons with severe COVID-19 or with severely weakened immune systems (immunocompromised). For more information, visit CDC’s guidelines.

Last updated August 07, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

The FDA is actively working with test developers and issues Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) frequently for EUA requests with sufficient supporting data.

Last updated October 15, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site

At this time, the FDA does not recommend using laboratory tests to screen blood. Someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, is not healthy enough to donate blood. Standard screening processes already in place will mean that someone with these symptoms will not be allowed to donate.

Last updated October 15, 2020
Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administrationlinks to external site

If you receive any calls like this, please know that it is a scam to get your private personal information. Beneficiaries are being targeted in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits. Do not give out your Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security numbers. And be cautious about any unsolicited requests for your personal information. If you think you need to be tested for the Coronavirus, please call your doctor, who can advise you on what tests you may need.

Last updated April 06, 2020
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agencylinks to external site

COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19). Seasonal allergies triggered by airborne pollen can lead to seasonal allergic rhinitis, which affects the nose and sinuses, and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which affects the eyes.

COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share many symptoms, but there are some key differences between the two. For example, COVID-19 can cause fever, which is not a common symptom of seasonal allergies.

Symptoms more common of COVID-19

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms more common of seasonal allergies

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing

Symptoms common of both

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. (Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, unless a person has a respiratory condition such as asthma that can be triggered by exposure to pollen.)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose

Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are similar, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them, and you may need to get a test to confirm your diagnosis.

This is not a complete list of all possible symptoms of COVID-19 or seasonal allergies. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. You can have symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies at the same time.

If you think you have COVID-19, follow CDC’s guidance on “What to do if you are sick.” If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Get more information on COVID-19 symptoms, or more information on seasonal allergy symptoms.

Last updated October 30, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site