BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Louisiana Department of Health has shared recommendations for those unable to find COVID-19 tests due to a nationwide increase in demand.

The LDH advises against visiting an emergency room simply to obtain a test if you have mild or no symptoms. Emergency rooms are for the seriously ill or people needing immediate medical attention.

When COVID-19 testing is widely available, LDH recommends testing for individuals experiencing symptoms and those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. LDH stresses that testing alone is not a strategy to stay safe and protect others against Omicron and provides the following recommendations for people who are unable to be tested:

Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms: Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you are sick:

  • Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home for at least 5 days, except to get medical care. If you are fever free and you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving, you may leave home after 5 days, but you must wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
  • If you have an emergency warning sign (trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds), seek emergency care immediately.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.
  • Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19: The recommendation to test after exposure is to allow individuals who test positive to isolate quickly and prevent additional spread. Tests are a snapshot in time, and one negative test after exposure does not mean you will not test positive later. Individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 need to follow the most up-to-date quarantine guidance below, regardless of a negative test result or in the event they cannot access a test.

If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.

If you have been boosted, OR completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months, OR completed the primary series of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine within the last 2 months, you do not need to stay home, but you should: 

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5, if possible.

If you completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted, OR completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted, OR are unvaccinated, then you should: 

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • Test on day 5 if possible.

You can find testing site locations and hours at ldh.la.gov/covidtesting or you can call 211 to find a site near you.

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