Should I test myself regularly if at-home tests are available?

When COVID-19 case numbers are low in your area, you do not need to regularly test yourself as long as you are feeling well. If you are not up to date on your vaccinations, you may choose to test yourself more regularly as an extra layer of protection and a way of detecting COVID-19 early if you were exposed. However, during times when case numbers are high or very high in your community, there is a greater chance that you may be exposed to COVID-19 without knowing and therefore you may want to test yourself more frequently. You can keep at-home test kits on hand in case you feel ill or in case of future surges. There are many resources to learn about the case numbers in your area, such as state or local public health department websites, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (, the CDC COVID Data Tracker (, or the New York Times Coronavirus Map (

For those taking at-home tests after being exposed to COVID-19, the FDA now recommends testing multiple times over the course of a few days to ensure that the initial negative test result is accurate. After taking your first at-home test and receiving a negative result, wait for 48 hours and then test again. If it is negative again, then wait another 48 hours to test one final time. If at any point you have COVID-19 symptoms but are still receiving negative antigen test results, you may want to get a PCR-based test from a healthcare provider to make sure of your negative result.

This question appears in: General Testing Questions

Last edited on: August 30, 2022