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Advice before you use your free COVID-19 test

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Recently, the government announced it was sending free COVID-19 tests to every house in this country. You may have yours already.

So what happens when you feel symptoms? Dr. Wade Redman is Chairman of the Department of Lab Sciences at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. He says the first thing you should do before using this test is read the directions and look at the diagrams carefully.

He says instead, if you skim over all that, you may have COVID-19 but end up with a false negative result.

He explains, “The reason being is the virus sometimes isn’t the level at where it needs to be to detect it. Another reason is you didn’t do that specimen collection correctly, you went crazy. Instead of doing your nose swab, you did a throat swab, or you didn’t listen to timing, look to see if the kit is expired, they do expire. So it’s important to look at those as well. And sometimes they’re just bad, invalid results, which can happen.”

Even If you’re not sure about your test results, you can not reuse a test. Just throw it away.

When you get a positive result, Redman says that means you have COVID-19. But what next? Should everyone in your family be tested as well because they have likely been exposed? The answer, he says, is not necessarily.

“If you’re fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19 in the last 90 days, you don’t have to be tested,” Redman says. “But if you’re symptomatic, you would but you don’t have to be. What is recommended would be to wear a mask wherever you go and to ask your employer when you can return.”

One other thing to remember is that the rapid tests provided by the government are not as sensitive as the PCR test, which picks up pieces of genetic material to make a diagnosis. But the rapid test is free and conveniently coming soon to your mailbox, if you request it.

If you want to take advantage of those free tests, go to covidtests.gov. You can also call 1(800) 232-0233.

Every household is allowed to receive four free tests within 12 days, and shipping is free.

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