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How to use a COVID-19 rapid testing kit

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 1:33 PM EST
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JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- On January 3rd, the United States reported a single-day number of daily COVID-19 cases topping more than 1 million according to Johns Hopkins University. To combat it, the White House is preparing to issue 500 million at-home rapid COVID tests.

Broome County has started to mitigate the spread by distributing rapid tests for free. Despite the county’s and administration’s strategy to stop the spread by at-home testing - some people are still concerned about these rapid test kits’ efficiencies.

According to Dr. Zachary Jones, an Infectious Disease Physician at United Health Services (UHS), he says we shouldn’t be. “When the rapid test is positive, there is a very high correlation between you having COVID and a follow-up PCR if it’s done for whatever reason being positive.”

The health department has also offered some tips along with Dr. Jones on ways to take a rapid COVID test properly. One tip from Heather Ryan, a Public Health Representative from the Broome County Health Department is to “read those instructions before you start performing a test. It’s kind of like you always want to read a recipe before you start cooking so that you’re prepared for what’s going to happen so that you have everything that you need.”

Dr. Jones emphasized a tried-and-true strategy publicized throughout the pandemic as a way to slow the spread and keep you safe. “One of the big things is to wash your hands and clean the testing area just to make sure that the test is going to be as legitimate as possible - kind of clearing any kind of debris that would make the test inaccurate.”

In addition, paying attention to the type of test you have is just as important. According to Ryan, “Most of the ones on the market right now are what’s known as a lateral flow test. So just a tip for performing them correctly is keeping them flat. So the lateral means that they have to be flat on the table so that they can actually work. So we don’t want to pick them up, move them, or keep looking at them during like the 15-minute waiting time while the test is actually running.”

A key factor in testing properly is making sure that one adheres to the testing times because each test was designed for that period to evaluate the specimen. “So when this test was validated by the FDA, it would have needed to meet a very specific metric for how long you install it in your nose; how long you instill it in the card kit before you can read the results. So it’s really important to follow everything to the letter to make sure that the test is going to be as accurate as possible,” says Dr. Jones.

When it comes to getting a specimen for the test to evaluate, identify where you should swab. Ryan says to make “sure that you’re swabbing right place. If it says swab your throat and swab your throat, if it says to swab your nose, then swab your nose.”

Basic housekeeping is making sure that you are organized when administering tests to a large group. According to Ryan, “for people with big families out there; you don’t need to run them all at the same time. You can pick out one person to do the test, you do their test, and then when it’s done, then you start on the next one because you don’t want to get confused with anyone’s test results.”

If you take a rapid test at home and it is positive for COVID-19, you must report it to the health department. You will be required to isolate, and the health department will issue you a Stay of Isolation Order document which will detail legally how many days you will be required to isolate.