Important information about COVID-19 antigen tests

The COVID-19 antigen test detects viral protein that is produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the presence of viral protein indicates there is an active infection. The antigen test is recommended for patients that meet specific criteria and is not appropriate for every patient.

While the antigen rapid test gives fast results typically in under 30 minutes, antigen tests may have a higher chance of missing an active infection when compared to molecular tests (i.e., PCR)

If your test result is POSITIVE:

You have an ACTIVE COVID-19 infection and can spread disease to others

  • In accordance with CDC and public health guidelines, you will need to isolate and stay at home for a minimum of 10 days after onset of your initial symptoms.
  • You may end isolation after 10 days as long as your symptoms are improving AND you are fever free for 1-day off fever reducing medication (Under certain circumstances, the isolation period may be longer).
  • Close contacts are advised to quarantine and stay at home for 14 days from the last contact and may end quarantine if asymptomatic AND 14 days has elapsed. Close contacts that develop symptoms should contact a health care provider for guidance.
    • Close contact is defined by CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic individuals, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • Although false positive tests have been reported, a false positive is very rare. If you have exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms consistent with COVID-19, repeat testing will not shorten or end your required isolation time period.

    If your test result is NEGATIVE:

  • The test did not detect viral proteins, but it does not 100% exclude the diagnosis of COVID-19 infection. False negatives may occur if testing is done too early in the disease.
  • Depending on your medical history (i.e., exposure, presenting symptoms), examination and other testing, you may still be advised to isolate and stay at home for a period of time.
  • Please speak with your primary care provider or employee health for follow-up care and when you may return to work.
  • Repeat testing is not recommended for healthy and low risk individuals. Repeat testing may be considered in certain high-risk individuals. If you have further concerns, please speak with your primary care provider for further guidance.
  • If you are planning to use this test result for travel documentation, be aware that the antigen test may not meet entrance requirements for travel to another state or country.

    Public health guidelines and epidemiological evidence show that consistent and proper mask use, social distancing, good personal hygiene (i.e., hand washing) and staying home if you feel sick is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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