Contagious vs. Positive: If you test positive for COVID-19, how long are you contagious, and can you get it again?


FILE – In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: the government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds. A program that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths. Administration officials respond that nursing homes can pay for ongoing testing from a $5-billion federal allocation available to them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — As of today, there are nearly five million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States.

There is a challenge of staying healthy as COVID-19 cases continue to increase. We are still learning new coronavirus information. Dr. Phillip Coule says what we do know is viruses can not reproduce themselves. Instead, the virus takes over the cell’s mechanisms to trick the cell into producing the infection.

“When you get infected with a virus, it then highjacks the body cells, and then you start making the virus,” explained Dr. Coule.

Augusta University’s Chief Medical Officer & Vice President says a human may produce antibodies to the virus. Once the antibodies destroy the outer coating, it’s no longer capable of infecting anyone.

That means if you got infected, you could return to work, school, or into the public 10 days after you develop symptoms, so long as you’ve been symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

“Employers should allow some flexibility,” said Dr. Coule. “It is dependent on reporting of the symptoms and after the time.”

The CDC changed its guidelines for people to return to their daily lives. A person who has been infected with the coronavirus can still test positive for 12 weeks.

“Nobody should be doing a repeat test on somebody positive,” said Dr. Coule. “We still hear reports of employers asking for two negative tests to come back to work. Not only do you not need two negative tests, but you also don’t need a retest at all.”

Dr. Coule and NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson recently tested positive for COVID-19. They both learned some new things from their experiences. The AU doctor says if you test positive, you are less likely to get the virus again for three to six months.

“The people who have had this disease and gotten over it, we’re confident that those people won’t get it again and won’t infect other people,” explained Dr. Coule.

Dr. Coule says face coverings work. He says if we all do our part to reduce the risk overall, then we can reduce the transmission of the virus.

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