Home COVID tests prove difficult to track

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By Jessie Wagoner

 

Home COVID tests are flying of the shelves of local stores, but there is no way for the state or local health professionals to track the results of home testing. 

There are benefits to home testing. Home tests can provide early detection, and if the person testing is responsible, it can keep COVID positive individuals at home, rather than in the public, which could increase the spread of COVID. However, there are some downfalls to home testing that are making it difficult for cases to be tracked.

Currently, home tests are not tracked by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) or any local health departments. There is no system in place to do so through the manufacturers of the tests. Notifying KDHE or a local health department is entirely up to the person testing.

“If someone tests positive on a home test, they can notify us or KDHE, and we can provide guidance,” Shalei Shae, director of the McPherson County Health Department, said. “We recommend they get a follow-up test with their provider or one of the testing sites that utilize certified lab equipment.”

One individual who recently tested positive at home expressed to the McPherson News-Ledger they don’t feel a need to report the positive to their doctor or local health professionals. 

“As long as I have mild symptoms and don’t need medical care, I don’t see the point in going to the doctor and retesting,” the individual, who wanted to remain anonymous, said. “If I had a cold, I wouldn’t call my doctor and tell them.”

Individuals with mild symptoms likely won’t require medical care for COVID-19. However, one benefit of retesting at a lab and having the positive results verified is being able to provide proof in the future if needed.

“One of the concerns we have with home tests is that if someone has a positive result and they don’t get a reported test with a provider, there is no way for us to prove that they had it in the future, whether that’s for exemption purposes or anything else,” Shae said.

Additionally, Shae confirmed that they don’t give isolation or quarantine guidance off of home tests because there is no way they can prove the results. This leaves quarantine and isolation up to the individual and leaves experts hoping they do the right thing.

Experts recommend testing for COVID through a certified lab. Testing sites are set up throughout the state. In McPherson, testing is done daily, by appointment, at the McPherson Fire Department. Local providers can also provide testing, as do several pharmacies in the county.