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Ohio health experts say home testing can help reduce virus spread

At Home COVID Tests.PNG
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-26 19:08:42-05

CINCINNATI — Millions of Americans are returning home this weekend after holiday travel and gatherings. It comes amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

Health experts urge anyone with symptoms to isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Some symptoms of the virus might mimic a common cold.

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth’s Medical Director of Infectious Diseases, says the omicron variant might present symptoms including a runny nose, fever and sore throat. He says less patients infected with omicron are reporting a loss of taste and smell.

There are different ways to get tested, including PCR tests found at various testing sites and at-home antigen tests. Dr. Gastaldo says the tests can help in different ways.

“Home testing measures when you are contagious,” he said. “It is less sensitive than a PCR test. But with the PCR test, you can be PCR positive without being contagious or transmissible. The nice thing about an antigen test is it lets you know if you have an infection, but more importantly, it lets you know if you are contagious.”

Dr. Gastaldo says that’s why many at-home antigen test kits will contain two tests. An individual might test negative on an antigen test if they test themselves in the early stages of their infection.

“If you repeat the test in 24 or 48 hours, you're more likely to be detectable at that time if you have an infection,” he said.

There are also occasions in which individuals should consider taking both tests, Dr. Gastaldo said.

“If somebody has a high index of suspicion for COVID, and they have a negative home antigen test, my advice would be to go get a PCR,” he said.