What you need to know about over-the-counter COVID-19 tests

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Ohio Department of Health is clearing up confusion between over-the-counter COVID-19 tests and those distributed as at-home tests.

While an over-the-counter self-test bought at a drug store may bring some peace of mind, they are reportedly not to be used in an official capacity to release someone from quarantine or isolation. On the other hand, an at-home test is set up to be administered by a person in their home under the supervision of a medical professional via telehealth.

An ODH spokesperson pointed out that “self-tests themselves state that ‘Negative results do not rule out SARSCoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions.'”

Just last week, Ohio officials announced plans to offer at-home tests at local libraries to further help people with cost and access.

“Our partnerships with libraries to make the at-home rapid tests accessible and convenient are a real breakthrough in our ability to get as many Ohioans tested as possible,” ODH director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said at the time.

ODH made clear that the lab-based PCR tests are the most accurate, but that the rapid antigen tests used under the guidance of a medical professional, including the ones offered by the library, still are acceptable.

“When a test is non-proctored and there is no guidance of specimen collection or testing, the likelihood of a false result may be higher,” an Ohio Dept. of Health spokesperson said. “Therefore, tests used for release from quarantine should be proctored to increase confidence in the negative result and reduce risk of post-quarantine transmission.”

Find out more about COVID-19 testing options in the state right here.

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