COVID cases have skyrocketed in Philadelphia and around the country, but national supply chain problems are limiting access to COVID-19 tests. This problem should improve in the next few weeks, but until that happens, looking for testing can be frustrating and leave you with questions.  

What should I do if I think I have COVID and can’t find a test? 

Assume you are positive until you can get tested. So long as you don’t have symptoms, you should isolate from others, including folks in your home, for five days. After five days, you can come out of isolation, but have to wear a mask for five days whenever you’re around anyone else.

What should I do if I’ve been exposed to someone with COVID and can’t find a test? 

  • If you are not vaccinated, or it’s been at least six months since you got your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer and you have not received a booster, or if it’s been two months since you got Johnson & Johnson and you have not received a booster: 
    • Quarantine away from others for 5 days if you don’t get any symptoms. Then, wear a mask around others for 5 days, and get tested on day 5.
  • If you are fully vaccinated and boosted:
    • Make sure to wear a mask anytime you are around others for 10 days and get tested on day 5 

If you start to experience symptoms, you should assume that you are positive. Keep in mind that if someone in your household tests positive, testing doesn’t change your need to take precautions around others since you have an ongoing exposure.

What should I do if I need to quarantine? 

The Health Department has guidance on how to manage quarantine, especially in a home with other people or family members. This guidance can also be downloaded. There’s also guidance on how to clean when someone in your home is sick with COVID, even if they can’t get tested. 

The person who is sick or has to quarantine should stay in a bedroom or designated room away from others. Try to limit who takes care of the sick person, including bringing them food. That person and the sick person should wear a mask whenever they’re together. If you have to share a bathroom, make sure the sick person wears a mask and be sure to disinfect the toilet seat and handle, faucet handles, soap dispenser, counter, light switch, doorknob, anything else they touched while they were in the bathroom. Try to open as many windows as possible to increase ventilation in the home. 

What should I do if I want to test before visiting someone vulnerable but can’t find a test? 

Unfortunately, if you are not able to find a test, you should delay your visit until testing supplies are available. The Health Department strongly discourages indoor gatherings for everyone in Philadelphia right now. Alternatively, if you can visit the person outside with six feet of distance, you could still see them without testing first.