top of page

When to use a COVID-19 test

Kaiser Permanente

Aug 15, 2022

If the self-test result is positive what should I do?

As classrooms reopen for this fall, people continue to travel, and COVID-19 cases rise, it’s important that everyone continues safe practices. Get vaccinated and boosted. Get tested if you have symptoms. And bookmark for the latest answers to questions about COVID-19 testing, including where to get a self-test.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, PCR tests were almost always used to detect the virus. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over-the-counter home antigen testing options have become available, making it easier and faster to get test results at home. Home antigen tests can be used in most situations, including when:

Symptoms appear (if the first test is negative, retest 24 to 48 hours later)
Exposed to someone who tested positive (if there are no symptoms, test 5 days after exposure)
Planning to spend time with people who are at high risk for serious illness and attend an indoor gathering or other activity

PCR tests are used when directed by a doctor or when required to show a negative PCR test to attend an event or activity. We offer many locations to get PCR tests. Getting tested at a Kaiser Permanente facility enables members to view their results on and receive guidance from their care team if they test positive.

If the self-test result is positive, stay home and isolate. Kaiser Permanente members should share their positive test result with Kaiser Permanente via an e-visit. They can test again (self-test is recommended) on day 5 or later. As CDC guidance continues to evolve, visit to learn more about when to test and end isolation.

Self-test expiration dates extended
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life of iHealth and CareStart COVID-19 self-tests. Visit the brands’ websites for information about expiration dates and proper storage.

What to do if a member tests positive for COVID-19
If a member gets a positive result from a COVID‑19 self‑test, they can complete an e‑visit right away to report it to their care team. They’ll get instructions on available treatment options, when to quarantine, and when to contact their doctor.

If a member gets a positive COVID-19 test result from Kaiser Permanente, they’ll get instructions on available treatment options, when to quarantine, and when to contact their doctor.

Visit for more information on how to get the COVID-19 vaccine and other safe practices. You can also call our KP COVID InfoLine at 1‑855‑550‑0951 (available in English and Spanish) 24/7 for regular recorded updates.

bottom of page