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Home COVID Tests Are Not Perfect, Health Officials Remind Residents

Home COVID Tests Spot WEB

VESTAL, NY (WSKG)—Home COVID antigen tests are available over the counter at most pharmacies and have become more popular recently. The tests can be faster than others and are usually used for screening purposes, but experts say they are not as accurate as PCR tests.

"I think with people traveling, and sometimes waiting till the last minute to have the test results they need for that travel, they're scrambling to try to find a place to get a test results," said Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director for Tompkins County. "And the home tests are becoming something that are being used a bit more frequently."

Kruppa said if a resident is having symptoms, the best thing to do is track down a PCR test.

“The PCR testing is the gold standard, it is the most sensitive and accurate to run to determine the results,” Kruppa said. “The antigen testing is a little bit less reliable.”

Residents who do use these tests should let the health department know if they test positive.

“If it's done in a laboratory, they are required by law to report that to the local health department. So that happens automatically,” said Kruppa. “When someone does a home test, that mechanism isn't in place. So we need them to report to us that they got that positive result.”

For more information on how and when to use a home COVID test, residents can go to the Tompkins County Health Department website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides instructions for using home tests.