OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Soon rapid at-home COVID tests will be sent to the homes of Americans, according to President Biden. Health officials say more widespread access to testing is a good thing, and can possibly slow the spread of the virus.
"I hope it’s going to make it better. It’s adding another tool to our toolbox," said Dr. Anne O'Keefe, Senior Epidemiologist for the Douglas County Health Department.
But they add, there are some downfalls. The majority of results of at-home tests won't be communicated to the health department, therefore contact tracing will be harder.
At-home tests are also not as accurate as PCR tests.
"It’s going to need more virus in your system to detect if it’s there or not. It might not detect it if it’s really early in your illness or maybe before you have symptoms," O'Keefe said.
But, if there's a lot of COVID in the community, a positive result from an at-home test is unlikely.
"Situation like we have unfolding now with a lot of disease transmission then yes they become more useful in finding those people who have the disease so I would suggest in the current state where there’s a lot of COVID in the community a positive test should be regarded as a positive result and those people should act accordingly," says Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Nebraska Medicine.
If you have been exposed to COVID, you should wait 3 to 5 days until you take an at-home test. Health officials say the best use for them, though is if you have not been exposed but know there's a lot of virus spread and just want to stay safe.
Until tests are mailed by the administration, you can get one at stores like CVS or Walgreens, but due to low supply, some stores are limiting the amount you can purchase. Some, are also very expensive.