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Louisiana News

As demand soars, LDH provides guidance on what to do when COVID-19 testing is not widely available

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Baton Rouge, La. (December 31, 2021) — As demand for COVID-19 testing soars and rapid tests continue to be in short supply statewide and nationwide, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is sharing recommendations for people who are unable to be tested.

LDH continues to work to make testing more accessible. However, fewer testing sites will be open over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Do not visit 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 1) individuals experiencing symptoms and 2) those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Because of COVID-19 cases increasing so rapidly in Louisiana, testing may not be available for all of these individuals over the holiday weekend. 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:

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 develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.

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.

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

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

Being vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself against hospitalization. You can learn about vaccination sites near you by calling Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774. You can also find a vaccine site online at ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.