The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has made cases in the United States spike like crazy. During the whole pandemic, the government has urged people who were exposed or who show symptoms of the illness to get tested immediately. However, now it seems like the whole country is trying to get tested! Tests are hard to find on pharmacy shelves and getting an appointment to get tested can take days. So, if you can't find a Covid-19 test, what should you do?

Rethink whether you need one

When everyone is trying to get a test right now, it's best (and more convenient) to get tested only when you really need to. Even if you'd like to have a test done for peace of mind, there are two reasons anyone truly needs a test. The first reason is if you actually have symptoms. The second is that you have been exposed for over fifteen minutes to someone who tested positive, and you were under six feet from them. If you don't fall into either of those categories, you don't need a test at this time.

If you're sick, assume you have it

If you do have Covid-19 symptoms and still can't get tested anywhere, then you should assume you have it and isolate as much as possible. Follow the quarantine and mask protocols until you don't have symptoms or you can finally get tested. During this time, if you are an immunocompromised individual or have any kind of underlying health problems that could make Covid-19 dangerous for you, make sure you stay in communication with your doctor. 

If you're not sick, isolate and wear a mask as necessary

If you don't have any symptoms but know you were exposed and can't get tested, then you will still want to take action. Even though you feel fine, you can spread Covid-19 before showing any symptoms. If you're fully vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask around other people for ten days. If you aren't, you'll want to quarantine for five days and then continue to wear a mask around people for five more days after that. 

Order at-home tests as early as you can

Maybe you want to get tested not because you have symptoms or were exposed, but because you need to be tested to travel or visit an at-risk loved one. In that case, you'll want to order tests to take at home as early as possible so that you don't end up stressed and having to change plans last minute. If it's too late to order tests before traveling, some airlines do offer on-site testing at the airport if you're willing to pay for it. 

Covid-19 testing is important, but tests can be hard to find in a lot of areas of the country right now. For more information on Covid-19 testing and the options available to you, contact your local health department.