Chicago Coronavirus

Most At-Home COVID Tests Are Not Reported to Health Department, Chicago's Top Doc Says

Most at-home COVID-19 test results are not being reported to the health department, according to Chicago's top doctor.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live event Thursday that people who get an at-home COVID test are asked to report a positive result to their health care provider who will inform the health department, though that process is not likely happening for every test.

"All of those negatives realistically are not being reported," Arwady said. "We're not counting, you know, it's a fiction that we've ever counted every COVID test."

She added that though many home tests are not being reported, positive results likely are provided to health care providers, then to the health departments.

Last month, Arwady urged people to take at-home COVID tests for their ease and accuracy as more people return to school and events requiring a negative test result for the unvaccinated.

"Especially if your child or you, you know, are having symptoms, it's a very, very good test," Arwady said. "If you're not having symptoms, it's still a good test. And it's the one that you can just take it home and have a result of in 15 minutes. It's like a pregnancy test - you see it right off the bat."

Arwady was specifically referring to the over-the-counter BinaxNow tests, which can be purchased at major stores like Walmart, Walgreens and Target, among other providers.

“The BinaxNOW Self Test opens the door for Americans to buy an accurate and affordable test on their own terms, when and where they need it,” Andrea F. Wainer, executive vice president of Abbott’s rapid and molecular diagnostics business, said in a statement at the time. “Together with vaccines and like-minded partners such as Walgreens, we can help people get back to doing what they love – like spending time with friends and family.”

The Food and Drug Administration first gave emergency use authorization for Abbott Labs' rapid COVID-19 test for at-home, over-the-counter and non-prescription use in March.

Customers can self-administer the test using a short nasal swab and check test results in 15 minutes.

According to the manufacturer’s instructions for use, people using the test should test themselves twice with at least 36 hours between tests. The test can be used on children as young as 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult and for all people aged 15 years or older.

To learn more about COVID testing around Chicago, click here.

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