What to do if you keep testing positive for COVID after 10 days

Positive COVID Test
Photo credit Getty Images | Bruna Prado/Stringer

So you contracted COVID-19. You sat at home and quarantined properly. Five days pass, 10 days, you’re ready to re-enter the world. But your COVID tests are still coming up positive.

What now?

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“We see a ton of variation between people in how long they test positive," Dr.
Stephen Kissler told NBC’s Today. Kissler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, specializing in infectious diseases and immunology. "While that average is closer to six to 10 days, there are people who will hang on for longer than that.”

Kissler said there have been cases of infected people testing positive up to 14 days before the virus finally subsides.

He also advised that as long as your rapid at-home tests are coming back with a positive result, you should act as though you are still contagious because you just might be. “It's probably not as much as you [were] early in the course of your infection,” Kissler said, but there’s still a chance you could pass it to someone else.

However, if you’ve isolated the full 10 days, are no longer showing symptoms and are fully vaccinated, experts believe you should be able to ease yourself back into society as long as you remain cautious until your tests start coming back negative.

“You might be able to begin slowly sort of reintegrating while still being mindful of your contact,” Kissler said. Masking up with a KN95 or KF94 mask when you might be in close contact with others and avoiding enclosed spaces, especially a crowded indoor area, are also recommended as is checking in with your own doctor and getting their opinion.

Testing positive more than 10 days into a COVID infection is certainly not the norm, but experts agree simply continuing to follow social distancing and masking protocols when around others is the best course of action if you do have to leave your fortress of solitude before getting a negative test back.

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