CINCINNATI — Hamilton County’s Health Commissioner is urging people not to take a COVID-19 test if they don’t have symptoms and weren’t exposed.
The recommendation comes as the supply of at home test kits dwindles.
“I have strongly recommended if you are not feeling sick and don’t have reason to worry, don’t use up a test kit right now even if you have home test kits handy at home,” said Greg Kesterman, Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner. “We would recommend if you know of an exposure, waiting a couple days and then testing.”
Hamilton County Public Health ran out of at-home rapid test kits, after giving out roughly 3,000 kits to the public December 23.
Those kits come directly from the Ohio Department of Health. A spokesperson for ODH said the department gave out 1.4 million free test kits in December alone and more than 5 million last year. It has ordered more than 1 million additional kits for January, which local health districts across the state are waiting to receive.
“We are working as hard as we can to make sure that we continue to get those shipments,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus.
Warren County Public Health is also waiting for more test kits.
“We got those (test kits) out and so we ran out of those,” said Duane Stansbury, Warren County Health Commissioner.
Stansbury said his health department is still offering PCR tests and antigen tests on site and by appointment based on state guidelines.
As far as which test the public should be seeking— a PCR versus a rapid antigen test— he said, “whatever test you can get to, the soonest you can, that’s accessible is the best test you can take. All of tests are of a very good. So if it does come back positive, it’s a high probability that you’re positive and that’s what we really want people to know.”
In Indiana, the state health department is limiting who can receive a rapid test at its clinics to those 18 and under or 50 and older. This is due to a limited supply of tests.
Local health officials have asked people not to visit hospital emergency departments for a COVID test.
To help offset the stress of testing at hospitals, the Ohio National Guard is setting up testing sites across the state. Kesterman expects two sites to open in southwest Ohio next week with at least one in Hamilton County.