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Should you wait to get tested after possible COVID-19 exposure? | The Q&A

The Q&A Team at WUSA9 reached out to the Virginia, DC and Maryland health departments.

WASHINGTON — After a weekend of public celebrations in the District following President-elect Joe Biden's projected win, local Redditors have been asking community members to be sure to get tested for COVID-19 if they were in crowded spaces. 

Of course, if you engaged in risky behavior it's always best to follow the recommended CDC guidelines of doing a 14-day quarantine. But according to commenters, it’s also a good idea to wait a few days after exposure for your test to ensure accurate results.

The Q&A Team at WUSA9 reached out to the Virginia, D.C. and Maryland health departments, as well as searched their websites for an answer. 

QUESTION: Should you wait to get that test for the best chance of accuracy?

ANSWER: The Maryland and Virginia Departments of Health do not specify waiting a particular amount of time after possible exposure to get a test.

The Maryland Department of Health recommends testing for anyone who suspects they may have come into contact with the virus, especially those who have been in large crowds. 

The Virginia Department of Health recommends tests to those who are specifically experiencing symptoms, those who have been exposed to someone who tested positive, or people who have been asked to get a test by the department or a healthcare provider. 

The D.C. Department of Health has different recommendations depending on the kind of test: the PCR test and the Antigen test.

There’s no recommendation to wait to get the PCR test, commonly known as the nasal swab, through the D.C. Department of Health.

But there is for the antigen test, known as the rapid test. The Health Department specifies that it performs best five to seven days after symptoms begin. It is not recommended for those who have not experienced symptoms.

All of the local departments of health recommend that anyone seeking a test reach out to their healthcare provider so that they are connected to care following a test result. People should also plan to follow their guidelines for what might be best depending on the kind of test you are planning to get. However, keep in mind that you do not need a doctor’s note in order to get a test.