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What to do if you have omicron variant symptoms and a negative test result

The CDC advises more COVID-19 tests if you test negative after omicron variant symptoms

A line of cars outside a COVID-19 test.
NOMI Health personnel move from car to car to test people for COVID-19 outside of the Utah Department of Health in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. People had to wait in long lines in order to be tested. What happens if you have omicron variant symptoms and still test negative?
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The omicron variant has continued to spread throughout the United States, and cases are expected to rise in the coming weeks amid the fallout from the holiday season.

  • If you experience COVID-19 symptoms from the omicron variant, you may want to get tested for COVID-19 so you can quarantine and slow the spread.
  • But what happens if you have omicron variant symptoms and still test negative?

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that a negative antigen test result may require you to get a PCR test, which takes a couple of days and isn’t as rapid as the antigen test.

  • “We do know that the most sensitive test that you can do is a PCR test, so if you have symptoms and you have a negative antigen test, then we do ask you to go and get a PCR to make sure that those symptoms are not attributable to Covid,” she said.
  • “Antigen tests still work quite well, and they work well especially in places that we’re using them, like in higher education, in test to stay in schools where we’re doing several tests, one every other day, every third day, and that’s really when they work well as well. So, we still are encouraging their use, they may not work as well as they had for the Delta variant,” Walensky said.

However, it might be hard for you to find a COVID-19 test right now because of heavy demand. So many people wanted a COVID-19 test ahead of the holidays so they could feel free to visit families.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in an interview Monday morning that testing has been an issue for the U.S. But more tests will be available soon.

  • “Obviously, not making any excuses for it: We should have had more tests available. But hopefully now as we get into the first couple of weeks in January, that’ll get much better,” he said.