Testing for COVID-19 at Home? Be Sure to Follow the Instructions


8/31/2021 – With positive cases of COVID-19 rapidly increasing, many people are turning to at-home test kits to check their status. According to Knox Public Health, at-home tests can be reliable and enable people to return to work or school, but it is important for people to follow the instructions. That includes having the test proctored or monitored.

Whether you pay for an at-home test or get one for free, most kits operate in the same manner. It involves taking a nasal swab, using a substance to process the nasal swab and a test card to determine the results. You also have to be connected via the internet or a smartphone so that someone can witness your test.

Many people are skipping the monitoring requirement and just testing the nasal swab. They will get a test result, but without a monitor or proctor, the test is not valid. Without a valid test, the results do not get sent to the Ohio Department of Health and without official results, release-letters can not be issued so that people can return to work or students to the classroom.

While the rapid, at-home test kits are convenient, they are not for everyone. The BinaxNOW test kit – which Knox Public Health provides for free – requires access to the internet, an email account, and a smartphone, computer or tablet with a webcam. Preparation for the test involves a live video chat with a test monitor who observes the actual testing procedure and provides instructions on how to use the test kit.

Knox Public Health provides written step-by-step instructions detailing the technical requirements and the testing process. While the actual test results are available in approximately 15 minutes, the entire process can take anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes.

The rapid test is especially helpful for someone who may have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case and are required to quarantine for 14 days. Yet, under the current protocol, after five days of quarantine, someone can be tested and if they test negative, and remain symptom free, they can be released from quarantine after eight days instead of 14.

With such a quick turnaround, the at-home tests help people who test negative, return to normal activities such as work or school. If people test positive, it reinforces protective measures so they don’t spread the virus.

Free at-home test kits are available for pick up at the front desk at Knox Public Health. There is a limit of one test kit per person and four test kits per family. Knox Public Health is located at 11660 Upper Gilchrist Rd., Mount Vernon, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The BinaxNOW test kits were provided to local health departments by the Ohio Department of Health.