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Here’s what to know when using at-home COVID-19 tests

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 6:29 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Sometimes waiting in line or trying to schedule a rapid COVID test isn’t always possible. It’s why some folks turn to the at-home tests, but lately they have been hard to come by.

“I think the big appeal with the home antigen test is, one, they come back in 15 minutes, which is amazing because if anyone who has been waiting for a PCR test knows that it came take a coupe of days. We’re kind of having access issues with getting with reagents to be able to run the tests,” explained Dr. Rachel Kermis, who is a family medicine doctor at Baton Rouge General.

Kermis said having an at-home test is nice because it keeps less people coming into the clinics and hospitals trying to get a test.

The Biden Administration spent $4 billion on tests for families to order four at-home rapid antigen tests, but Kermis said there are still a few tips folks need to remember when using these tests.

“Even if the test is done absolutely perfectly, you do the right protocol everything, it’s not as accurate as a PCR test. That’s because looking at certain proteins from the virus which is making it the antigen, and the kind of amount of antigen is depend upon how our viral load is,” added Kermis.

Kermis said sometimes folks don’t use the test correctly, and this could lead to a false negative, which is why doing another test 24 hours later might help.

“More testing helps with the accuracy and then also kind of knowing that you got to do the swab. You got to kind of stick it far enough back, that way we are getting a good sample from the area that the virus likes to hang out. Then making sure that we are following those directions on that handout,” said Kermis.

If folks do happen to get a false negative and are still experiencing symptoms, Dr. Kermis said it’s best to check in with your doctor because it could be something else.

If you chose to order some of those free COVID at home tests, they are expected to be in by late January.

According to Louisiana Department of Health, they are already adding more COVID-19 sites to help with the limited testing resources.

COVID-19 tests can be ordered here.

According to LDH, they are already adding more COVID-19 sites to help with the limited testing resources.

“The Louisiana Department of Health has continued to add new sites to ensure residents have equitable and convenient access to COVID testing in their area,” said a representative of LDH. “Since the start of this surge, we have stood up more than 20 test sites across the state.”

“Demand for at-home rapid testing continues to outpace supply. Regional medical directors are working with community partners to distribute at-home tests to vulnerable populations. We continue to advocate for more testing supplies, with our federal partners and through our own procurement. This week alone we are pushing out 20,000 at-home test kits throughout the state,” said the LDH representative.

LDH stresses that testing alone is not a strategy to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19.

According to LDH, “We strongly encourage every eligible person 5 years and older to get vaccinated and every eligible person 12 years and older to get a booster shot. For additional protection, wear your mask indoors and outdoors when distancing is not possible, work remotely if possible, and limit exposure to folks outside your everyday household.”

PCR tests are free, widely available, and better at detecting Omicron than antigen tests, according to LDH.

To find a test site near you, call 211 or visit the LDH website.

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