Rise of at-home tests causing headache for accurately tracking COVID-19 cases

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The spread of COVID-19 has prompted more people to get tested. Some are using a quicker method, like a rapid at-home test, instead of going to a clinic.

While case counts go up, the actual numbers may be much higher. The at-home test comes in handy when fighting the coronavirus, but can be a headache when tracking cases.

“Very likely, we are seeing an under-reporting, which is difficult to think about because our numbers are higher than they’ve ever been,” Sonia Jordan, Director of Informatics with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Department, said.

There currently isn’t a system in place for people in Kansas or Missouri to self-report their results from an at-home COVID test. Health departments said part of the reason is because results from an at-home test are considered suspect cases.

“It’s difficult for us to verify the specimen,” Jordan said. “Was it collected in the proper way, you know, somebody said they tested on themselves, did they actually test on somebody else?”

Some at-home tests, like BinaxNOW, have self-reporting systems in place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments encourage people who are positive on an at-home test to get a second opinion from a health care provider.

“Your doctor knows the proper process to report them to a state and to the local health authority,” Christina Heinen, director of health and animal services in Independence, said.

Working for You, FOX4 reached out to health departments in our area to see if they are working on a self-report system.

Johnson County said it’s in the process of establishing one. Others said the best way for people to get their information out there is to call their doctor and/or the local health department.

Health leaders said the at-home tests may not be a perfect system, but it comes in handy.

“Even if that person doesn’t do the follow up test, even if they just like stay home and they isolate appropriately and let their close contacts know and those people get tested, there could be a real domino effect to the transmission of the disease,” said Jordan.

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