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Testing Positive for COVID while Traveling: What to Do

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.

July 15, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

How Can I Avoid Testing Positive While Traveling?

To avoid testing positive while traveling, follow the guidelines set forth to help protect yourself and others. Practice good hand hygiene, be aware of your surroundings and crowds, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing, and wear a tight-fitting mask. These guidelines are ways to reduce your risk of getting sick while traveling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends getting fully vaccinated to reduce the risk of testing positive while traveling.

You can avoid testing positive while traveling by maintaining good hand hygiene and wearing a mask. Although masks are no longer required on flights, public transit, or US airports, you can wear one during your travels to avoid testing positive or if you are a high-risk individual.

Should I Travel After Testing Positive for COVID-19?

You should not travel if you are positive for COVID-19. If you must travel you can take steps to reduce the risk of getting others sick. The following are recommendations from the CDC related to travel and COVID-19:

  • Do not travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms without a confirmed test.
  • Do not travel if you tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Do not travel until a full 5 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
  • Do not travel for 5 days after first contact if you have been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.

Traveling after testing positive for COVID 19 is not the best choice and could affect others negatively. It is suggested to test negative and remain without symptoms before traveling.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Do You Need to Report a Positive COVID-19 Test?

Yes, knowing your COVID status can help foster safe travel and whether or not you should postpone your trip. Ideally, you should not travel if you have COVID. However, as of June 2022, most destinations have dropped mandatory quarantining on arrival. Removing quarantine requirements increased the amount of international travel. Moreover, most countries have dropped all COVID-19 entry restrictions altogether.

You should not travel if you knowingly have a positive COVID-19 test. You are risking other people’s health if you travel while positive. You should isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. It is not safe to be around others if you are sick, especially if you have symptoms.

Do I Have to Quarantine if I Test Positive While Traveling?

There is no longer pre-departure testing and testing on arrival depends on the state or country you are traveling to, but most have dropped all entry restrictions. Before you travel, it is important to gather information about your local route, route along the way, and final destination. For current, up-to-date information, check each location’s Health Department website.

Per the CDC guidelines, if you test positive while traveling you should avoid others and isolate yourself for 5 days. To calculate your isolation period: Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the day you tested positive before symptoms started. 

If you are required to quarantine while traveling it is important to:

  • Stay home or in isolation
  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen
  • Call your doctor before you get medical care since mild cases do not require a prescription or medical treatment.
  • Avoid public transportation or places where you are unable to wear a mask.

If quarantined, stay away from people and pets in your home, hotel, or vacation housing. If possible you should use a separate bathroom to minimize contamination and reduce the spread of germs. Let your traveling companions know that you are positive and that they have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Can an Airline Deny Boarding a Passenger if They Don’t Have a Negative COVID-19 Test?

Airlines cannot deny boarding passengers if they do not have a negative COVID-19 test. Effective June 12, 2022, all travelers, including U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens arriving in the U.S. from international destinations, are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 test. 

Since a negative test is no longer required, it is important to familiarize yourself with COVID symptoms. You can monitor for symptoms during your travel. Common COVID symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

The federal mask mandate on public transportation was recently updated in April 2022. Due to this ruling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer enforce the federal travel mask mandate in all U.S. airports and onboard aircraft.

Additionally, face masks are optional and no longer required, but are recommended. The CDC recommends proper mask-wearing for passengers aged 2 years or older in indoor areas of public transportation, air travel, and high-risk public spaces. 

According to the CDC, air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 virtual test. Similarly, for domestic travel, a negative test is no longer needed to travel throughout the United States. However, it is recommended to check your destination’s COVID-19 community level. COVID-19 community levels are designed to inform people about areas with high or medium COVID-19 occurrences. 

Before you travel, verify travel restrictions and follow all state and local restrictions such as proof of vaccination, mask-wearing, testing, and quarantine requirements. Some states require proof of vaccination for entertainment venues or other tourist sites.

Telehealth for COVID-19 During Travel

Make an appointment to speak with one of our doctors about COVID-19 and travel. If you become sick with COVID during your travel, you can speak to a PlushCare doctor anytime. Appointments are available every 15 minutes throughout the day and even at night. If you are considered a high-risk individual, you should speak with a doctor immediately if you have symptoms or have been exposed.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

COVID-19 Resources:


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

CDC.gov. Travel. Accessed on July 25, 2022 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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