Governor Gavin Newsom places the swab in the holder after a self-administered rapid COVID-19 test at Native American Health Center in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 22, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

Two lines appear on your at-home COVID-19 test, indicating you’ve tested positive. Now what?

The answer can vary by county. Public health officials at the state and local level have advised that those who test positive stay home for at least five days if they have symptoms.

After five days, a negative test and improved symptoms are generally the ticket out of isolation.

People are also encouraged to not seek additional PCR testing after the initial positive antigen test, which is sufficient on its own to seek treatment such as antiviral medication.

Across the Bay Area and Central Coast, only Marin and Sonoma counties encourage residents to report their at-home test results. Those who report a positive test will subsequently receive isolation and treatment guidelines and resources.

The other nine counties in the region either do not accept results from at-home tests or only request them in the context of an outbreak at a workplace, office or school.

Those seeking to report an outbreak can do so via the School and Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking,, which is run out of the California Department of Public Health.

The increase in easily available at-home tests has lessened the testing burden on local public health agencies and larger multi-county health care providers, but officials have noted that fewer and fewer test results are being recorded at testing sites run by local governments or health care providers, both of which do report their positive COVID tests to the CDPH.

As a result, health officials have said in recent months, the true number of active COVID cases at any one time is likely higher than the figures that are tracked and publicly available.

“The testing in the community is now people testing at home, the antigen tests,” San Mateo County Health Chief Louise Rogers told the county’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday. “Which is great that it’s so accessible, but we don’t receive those results.”

Health officials have pivoted away from tracking raw COVID case numbers as an indicator of local virus transmission, focusing instead on hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and the amount of virus present in local wastewater systems.

In any case, those who test positive are encouraged to contact their health care provider for further instruction on treatment, isolation and contact tracing.

COVID-positive people should also alert potential close contacts that they may have been exposed to the virus.

Full guidance from the CDPH about isolation after a positive COVID test can be found at

In addition, specific COVID-positive guidance in a given county can be found via a county’s public health department.

Those living in Marin County can report their positive at-home COVID test at

Sonoma County residents can do the same at