Local COVID-19 Infections on the Rise; What Tests to Use and How to Get Tested
on Monday, January 24, 2022
As the number of COVID-19 infections is surging locally, local healthcare entities are getting numerous questions about what tests should they use and how to get tested. Unfortunately, testing supplies are limited; which means they can be challenging to find. Just this week the federal government announced that each household can order up to four at-home test kits. To order yours, go to this website: www.covidtests.gov. Meanwhile, free at-home testing kits can also be picked up in Spencer Hospital's emergency department and local pharmacies are trying to keep supplies available. If you have COVID symptoms and are a patient of Avera Medical Group Spencer, contact the clinic for an appointment.
Who should get tested?
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19, with or without a known exposure.
- If you don't have symptoms but have come into close contact with someone with COVID, you should be tested to check for infection at least 5 days after your last exposure to that person. Why 5 days? Testing too early may not yield an accurate result (especially with the antigen test).
If you do test positive, please contact those you've been around. What we know about Omicron is that people are very contagious a day or two prior to having symptoms.
Two different types of tests are available:
- PCR - This type of test looks for the genetic material of the virus. These tests are super sensitive; very accurate; and the specimen can be from the nose or saliva. PCR tests must be analyzed in a laboratory. Another PCR that's available is the free at-home saliva kits that are available for pick up in the emergency department. These are sent to the state lab and have an approximate turnaround time of 48 hours.
- Rapid Antigen - This type of test looks for viral proteins. The rapid antigen tests may receive a falsa negative if done too early in your infection because your viral load may not be detectable yet. Rapid antigen tests can be obtained OTC, or through our school program here in Clay County for symptomatic kids and staff, or at a local provider.
- Other local clinics and some pharmacies offer testing too.
For more information about COVID-19, please visit Spencer Hospital's COVID-19 page.