What to do if you’re still testing positive for COVID after isolation

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 8:50 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Andrew Keller first tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6, 2022. Weeks later he is still getting a positive test result.

“I’m still testing positive,” he said. “I was told by my doctor that I will test positive for the next 90 days or so.”

Marcel Curlin, an infectious disease expert at OHSU said it’s common for people to continue to test positive after their isolation period, especially if they are using a PCR test.

“That’s a common scenario someone gets COVID, ten days go by, 15 days go by and then they get a PCR test and low and behold it’s still positive, but they feel fine and they don’t know what to do about it. That doesn’t mean that you have ongoing infection,” he said. Curlin recommends using a PCR to initially detect if you have COVID and on day five use a rapid antigen test. He said if you’re still positive then continue to isolate to 10 days.

“The antigen test is considered to track a little better with your state of infectiousness so it might miss an early infection, it might miss a late infection but it’s considered to be better evidence of infectiousness,” he said. He also said for those who are immunocompromised or have to take medications that suppress their immune system, you may need to isolate longer because you still could be contagious.

“For those people they can remain infectious a little bit longer just because the virus sticks around a little longer and the CDC uses these guidelines and we use these guidelines too, up to about 20 days in some cases you want to maybe isolate to about 20 days,” he said.