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Americans will be able to order free, at-home COVID-19 testing kits by January

Virus Outbreak Home Test
Posted at 6:11 AM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 09:11:12-05

On Tuesday the President announced plans for setting up a website where Americans will be able to order free, at-home COVID-19 testing kits by January.

"I think it could make it more convenient," said Chris Alleyne-Levy, Visitor.

Alleyne-Levy purchased at-home COVID-19 testing kits Tuesday before a gathering to ensure the health of everyone in attendance.

"I came by just to get a few because we're going to visit some friends so we're pre-screening everyone before we get together," said Chris Alleyne-Levy, Visitor.

Residents in Atascadero tell me that this new, easier way of having the test shipped to you for free would inspire them to get tested more often.

"I bought a COVID test for my wife because she's feeling ill," said Alex Nikolaou, Atascadero Resident.

Nikolau purchased his at-home COVID-19 test at CVS and says the process was easy enough but the test cost 10 dollars.

He says a free test shipped directly to his home would inspire him to get tested more frequently.

"Yeah. I mean it saves us money so I'm sure more people will get tested including ourselves," said Alex Nikolaou, Atascadero Resident.

Dr. Brian Roberts, Medical Director of Medstop Urgent Care, says at-home testing is more convenient but the use of antigen tests is not as accurate as a PCR test that are sent to an outside lab or other rapid tests that look for genetic material that must be conducted in the hospital.

"The antigen test is usually looking for the spike and if there isn't a lot of virus around, they can't find it and that leads to a fairly high false negative rate in patients who are not sick. As high as 40 percent," said Dr. Brian Roberts, MedStop Urgent Care Madonna Plaza Medical Director.

Roberts says all of the tests, even antigen, perform well on sick patients because they have a higher viral load.

"It's in the patients who aren't symptomatic, non symptomatic or exposure patients, they have lower viral loads and are therefore harder to find," said Roberts.

His biggest fear with home antigen tests is the high false negative rate when not used correctly.

He says medical professionals receive trainig on how to properly conduct the sometimes uncomfortable test and he worries that when done to oneself it will not be as accurate.

"It's uncomfortable and it's very difficult to do something to yourself that's uncomfortable and so I think that most patients are well intended but they're not well trained," said Roberts.

Roberts says the antigen at-home test can be of value when used correctly. If the test is negative he says it is best to take another test 1-2 days later just to be sure. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 he says 4-8 days after exposure is the best time to test. For people who are not symptomatic and do not suspect exposure he recommends regular testing once or twice each week.