What to Expect After Receiving a COVID-19 Test Result

Important Notice

If you test positive, please call the College of Medicine COVID hotline at 850-645-4758. Please leave a message to confirm that you have seen your results.

If you have questions about your results-Call 850-645-4758


If your test result was negative

The negative test result means the virus was not detected at the time of the swab.  Remember that this test is only a single point in time.  You could be negative today and positive tomorrow.  It is not certain how long it takes between an exposure that actually infected a person with the virus and having it show as a positive test.  It seems to take at least 2-3 days and perhaps as long as 8 days or more.  This means that a recent exposure that actually caused you to contract the virus – within the past week or so – may not show as a positive test.  If COVID-19 symptoms develop, or of you have a close contact with an infected person, a repeat test may need to be performed.

Continue to stay safe – wash hands frequently – wear a mask – practice social distancing of at least 6 feet – monitor for symptoms and stay home if you develop symptoms.


Fever – Chills – Cough – Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – Fatigue – Muscle or body aches – Headache – New loss of taste or smell – Sore throat – Congestion or runny nose – Nausea or vomiting – Diarrhea


If your test was positive

A positive test means that the virus has been detected and you should take immediate steps to self-isolate to protect others (see below).  You cannot rely on symptoms to say whether you have the virus because about 4 out of 10 people with the virus never get any symptoms at all.  The virus is also present and can be found a few days BEFORE any symptoms develop.  You should keep an eye out for any of the symptoms above that might develop in the next 10 days since your positive test. 

An essential part of controlling this pandemic is contact tracing and assessment to determine those with whom you may have had a close contact or significant exposure.  Staff from the Secure Assessment for FSU Exposure Response (SAFER) Team and the County Health Department will reach out to you.  They will ask about others with whom you have had close contact within 48 hours prior to specimen collection (or 48 hours before symptoms started, if you have symptoms).  These close contacts may be the source of infection or be at risk of getting infected themselves.  HOWEVER, there is no need to wait for the contact assessment team before you choose to notify those with whom you had a close contact so they can quarantine and watch for symptoms and may choose to get tested.

Essential Steps Upon Receiving a Positive Test Result

  • Immediately isolate yourself – notify your supervisor and leave work/school to go straight home. 
  • Details on isolation can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html
  • If you have EVER had a positive COVID test in the past, this positive test might indicate residual “dead” virus particles and may not reflect an active infection.  You should locate a copy of those previous positive results and contact us. If you were tested somewhere else, upload a copy of your positive results into your Athena Portal account. A medical provider will help determine the next steps for you.  This depends on the type of test, the time it was done, and other factors.

If Your Test Is Positive 

  • Isolation for at least 10 days is essential.  This means staying in your room/house apartment and ONLY leaving for medical visits.  Someone else needs to provide you with food and supplies as needed.  
  • See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html
  • If you are isolating in a place with others, then they are high risk of becoming close contacts who will need to quarantine.
  • See resources and downloads below.

Re-Testing After a Positive Is Not Recommended

In late July, the CDC changed their guidelines and explicitly recommended AGAINST retesting (except for rare circumstances) for three months after a positive test.  This is due to the common problem of persistent positive viral tests that detect “dead bugs” or pieces of virus that cannot transmit disease. 

See: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/duration-isolation.html

Please do not register to be re-tested in attempt to get a negative result. You are likely to get another positive and create even more confusion regarding isolation, contact tracing, etc. 

Close Contact-If You Were Exposed To Someone With COVID (co-worker, family member, etc.)

Note that a brief, passing exposure is unlikely to spread the virus.  The CDC uses the term “close contact” to identify those who may be at increased risk of contracting the virus.  This is specifically defined as the following activities (in relation to someone with COVID or a positive test result):

  • being within 6 feet for >15 continuous minutes.  (For example – 5 episodes of 3 minutes or 15 minutes of 1 minute each is NOT considered close contact)
  • direct physical contact (hugging, kissing, touching)
  • sharing eating utensils
  • being sneezed or coughed on, or otherwise getting respiratory droplets on you
  • caring for an infected person in the home

According to the CDC and the Florida Department of Health, these close contact exposures trigger a need for self-quarantine until 14 days after that last close contact and added vigilance in monitoring for symptoms

See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html

Earlier in the course of this pandemic, the issue of close contact did NOT trigger a need for testing, especially when resources for testing were very limited.  Now, the CDC states “Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection.  Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.”

It is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO NOTE that a negative test after close contact does NOT release you from quarantine.  The test can be negative early and 14 days of quarantine from the LAST DATE of close contact MUST be maintained.  If symptoms develop while you are in quarantine, contact your health care provider and a repeat test may be needed.

For Persons Needing To Isolate Or Quarantine Because of COVID

  • If you test positive for COVID, or have symptoms of COVID, isolate for at least 10 days from the date of your test, and at least 24 hours after fever has resolved (without using medicines for fever like Tylenol®), and symptoms have improved. You should only leave your room or home for necessary medical care. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html
  • If you have been a close contact of someone testing positive for COVID, quarantine for 14 days from the date of the last close contact. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html. Quarantining means only leaving your room or home for essential activities. If you must leave your room or home, avoid being within 6 feet of anyone for more than 15 minutes, and always wear a face covering.
  • If you had COVID and were sick enough to be hospitalized and/or if you are immunocompromised, you may need to isolate for 20 days (or longer) – talk to your treating physician to determine the specific recommendations for your situation.


Food, Grocery, and Prescription Delivery Options for Quarantined/Isolated Individuals

Food and Grocery

  • Publix grocery delivery (www.publix.com). Publix is a local grocery store chain which offers delivery and contactless pick up.  Orders can be placed online or via the Publix App.
  • Walmart online order $30 min, with someone picking up (As delivery runs days out) (www.walmart.com)
  • Amazon Prime (Typically delivered same day) (www.amazon.com)
  • Shipt
  • Insta Cart Free Trial (14 days free trial before $99 yearly membership is charged) 
  • Meal Delivery Services 
  • Door Dash 
  • Bite Squad 
  • Uber Eats 
  • Grub Hub (the app to use for Seminole Dining locations on campus as well as off)

Prescriptions: Click on the pharmacy of your choice for delivery information


I Need a Printed Copy of My Results. How do I Obtain Them?

If you are FSU Faculty/Staff/Students-please follow the instructions below:

Please submit a medical release form to UHS Medical Records via fax, e-mail, mail, or drop-off. You will receive a response within 2-7 business days.


  • Fax: 850-644-2737
  • Email: uhs-medicalrecords@fsu.edu
  • Mail: c/o Medical Records
    • 960 Learning Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-5718
  • Drop: First floor of the UHS main building (HWC)

Did you know that you can print out your own records for services provided at University Health Services from your E-Clinical Works patient portal? Log in here: https://mycw34.eclinicalweb.com/portal3684/jsp/100mp/login_otp.jsp. If you do not have access to your E-Clinical Works patient portal, please call 850-644-5523 for assistance.  

If you are a FSU Guest-please follow the instructions below:

Log into your Athena patient portal here https://19268-1.portal.athenahealth.com/ to view and print the results from the Athena patient portal. If you do not have your portal set-up, you can call 850-645-4758 for assistance in getting your portal activated.



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