How to use an at-home Covid-19 test effectively

JOPLIN, Mo.–With Covid cases rising, more people have been seeking out and using at-home Covid tests.

And now that Americans will soon have access to at least four tests shipped right to their homes, many may be wondering the best way to get accurate results.

Jessica Liberty at Freeman Health System says it has to do with how well you can follow directions.

“Part of the testing piece is the collecting of the specimen. so when you go to collect it, you have your nasal or q-tip looking swab. it’s really long has the little cotton ball at the end, so you’re going to put that at least a half of an inch in each nostril…and when you leave it in there, I don’t mean just let it sit. I mean, you want to swish it around, touch all of your nostril hairs. It’s gonna itch. it’s going to be uncomfortable. it’s going to make your eyes water,” said Jessica Liberty, Manager of Infection Prevention with Freeman Health System 

Liberty says the way the specimen is collected is key.

“So a helpful hint for those that are collecting their own specimen is to stand in front of a mirror. you get to watch yourself because you don’t think it’s going in very far or you think it’s going in too far and it’s not going in far enough.”

For Joplin resident Charlie Brown, he knows what it’s like to have the at-home tests deliver a false sense of security.

“I bought four tests from Walgreens and they all showed me as being negative, and then when I got my PCR, I was positive, so I was really concerned about that,” Brown said. 

He recently recovered from a Covid infection and says at the time his rapid test was wrong, despite having symptoms when he tested.

He said he still placed an order for the free Covid tests from the government,

“But I just like them for my peace of mind, you know, to have a test available…I just think it’s really important if you are going to do the home test that you follow it up with a PCR test just so you’re 100% sure.”

Liberty says she’s seen employers share a similar concern.

“A lot of the times employers won’t accept an at-home test as a valid proof of illness of covid illness. so we validate that with our drive-through testing. and so we’re very, very happy to accommodate those people that are at home and they’re sick and they’ve had a positive at-home test and they want to be able to be off to help reduce that spread.”

And even if you don’t have Covid, but are exhibiting illness, liberty emphasizes continuing to stay home.