As cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 continue to rise, rapid tests are in high demand.
There are options for how and where to take the test, either at a pharmacy or clinic or at home through a self-administered test.
When to take a rapid COVID-19 test
Rapid tests are typically taken when you are experiencing symptoms, or know or suspect you may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
How accurate is the rapid test
As with any test, it has its limitations. "Rapid antigen tests assess for acute infection only, not prior infection or response to vaccination," the Infectious Disease Society of America says on its website. The test looks for proteins from the novel coronavirus (as compared to the antibodies produced by an infected body measured by the PCR test for COVID-19).
A rapid test has the advantage of giving a result as fast as in 15 minutes. It's cheaper, it can be deployed outside of hospital laboratories and "many can be performed by members of the general public," the infectious disease society's website says.
But rapid tests also have more false negatives in people who are asymptomatic or "who may be early in their infection." Rapid tests also may be less accurate in children, the society says, citing a multilocation study from Spain.
Where can I get a rapid test in Greater Cincinnati?
Libraries around Ohio have partnered with the state to offer free, rapid COVID-19 tests. Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Health purchased 2 million rapid, at-home tests. In August, 246 library locations around the state provided more than 53,000 tests.
The libraries are providing the Abbott BinaxNow Home Test. It is meant for at-home use and is packaged with a telehealth session to oversee test administration and result reporting.
In Hamilton County, these library drive-thru locations offer at-home test kits:
- Anderson Township.
- Delhi Township.
- Downtown Main Library.
- Symmes Township.
Hours vary by location. Test kits are in high demand, so check availability before visiting a library branch for pickup.
The state health department's COVID-19 dashboard also has a portal showing available testing locations from private companies and retail sites, community health centers, libraries and other local partners in each county throughout the state.
Locations throughout Ohio:Where can I get a COVID-19 test?
These Greater Cincinnati national pharmacy chains currently offer rapid tests:
- 4110 Harrison Ave., Cheviot.
- 7410 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Township.
- 947 Cincinnati-Batavia Pike, Union Township.
- 7217 Cincinnati Dayton Road, West Chester.
- 6918 Hamilton Ave., North College Hill.
- 4241 Glenway Ave., West Price Hill.
- 7135 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Township.
- 385 Northland Blvd., Forest Park.
- 398 Anderson Ferry Road, Delhi Township.
- 6330 Cincinnati Dayton Road, Liberty Township.
- 6385 Branch Hill -Guinea Pike, Miami Township.
Where to get a rapid test in Northern Kentucky
- 1 Viewpoint Drive, Alexandria.
- 1747 Patrick Drive, Burlington.
- 8193 Mall Road, Florence.
Kroger offers take-home rapid tests available for purchase. The BinaxNow COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is $23.99, with results available in 15 minutes.
At Kroger locations with Little Clinics, a rapid antigen test is available. The cost of the visit and test is $144 and is typically covered by most health insurance plans. Results are typically available within 15 minutes.
There is another speedy testing solution in Northern Kentucky.
Gravity Diagnostics is offering drive-thru PCR testing daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot at 302 W. Fourth St., Covington. No appointments are necessary.
The service, paid for by the commonwealth of Kentucky, is for people: who don't have COVID-19 but have been exposed to it: have a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19; or need a negative test to be able to attend an event. Bad weather can close the site for part or all of a day.
People who have been tested will get an email the same day with the result. A parent must be with any patient under age 18 and sign a consent form.
Missed a location that offers rapid tests? Email [email protected] with information.
How to correctly take a rapid test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a guide for taking an at-home test:
Before you take a sample, you should first wash your hands with soap and clean the countertop, table or other surfaces where you will do the test.
The CDC says to not open test devices or other test components until you are ready to start the testing process.
To take the test, open the box and follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with the specimen collection or test kit to collect your own nasal or saliva specimen. If you don’t collect the specimens as directed, your test results may be incorrect.
How to collect a nasal specimen:
- Remove the swab from the package. Do not touch the soft end with your hands or anything else.
- Insert the soft end of the swab into your nostril no more than ¾ of an inch into your nose.
- Slowly rotate the swab, gently pressing against the inside of your nostril at least 4 times for a total of 15 seconds. Get as much nasal discharge as possible on the soft end of the swab.
- Using the same swab, repeat in your other nostril with the same end of the swab.
- Place the swab in the sterile tube and snap off the end of the swab at the break line, so that it fits comfortably in the tube. Place the cap on the tube and screw down tightly to prevent leakage.
Once collected, send the specimen to a testing facility or use the specimen, as described in the manufacturer’s instructions, to complete the self-test.
Once you have your results, give them to your healthcare provider. If you don't have one, give them to to your local or state health department.
Some self-tests have an app that will automatically report your results to the appropriate public health authorities.
Check the test's expiration date. Don’t use expired tests or test components that are damaged or appear discolored based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Don’t reuse test devices or other components.
Do I need a rapid test for school?
The CDC has a guide to COVID-19 testing in schools, as most are back to in-person learning this year.
Schools can either choose to use a nasal test, using a swab for the lower part of the inner nostril, or a saliva test, which takes a spit sample. Teachers and staff will not be tested without their consent, and students are not tested without the consent of both the student and the guardian.
The federal government has provided Ohio resources to support COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools, with an emphasis on screening testing.
The goal with "aggressive" screening testing, according to the ODH's federal testing guidance for K-12 schools, is to work to quickly identify positive cases for isolation, keep school infection rates low and increase "confidence in in-person learning for school staff, parents and students."