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At-home COVID-19 tests in high demand in 2-state region

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 12:02 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A surge in COVID-19 cases—plus long lines and waits at testing sites—is leading some folks to take at-home COVID tests that they buy at grocery stores and pharmacies.

According to officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, these tests are a good alternative to the traditional kind you find at drive-thru testing sites or at urgent-care clinics, but you might have difficulties getting your hands on one of these tests because of an increase in demand.

Dr. Jane Kelly, who is the assistant state epidemiologist for DHEC, mentioned the rapid antigen test BinaxNOW as being a good alternative to a regular COVID test.

It can be purchased at Walgreens, Walmart and similar spots, but many locations in the Lowcountry are out of stock. At last check, a few places like the Walmart on Folly Road and Walgreens in Mount Pleasant did have them available.

According to CVS, they are limiting the amount you can purchase at one time, and BinaxNow recently announced they are experiencing an unprecedented demand.

The rapid at-home tests like BinaxNow run about $20-$25, however, if you opt for the at-home PCR tests where you collect the sample at home and ship it off for testing, you should be ready to spend $100 or more.

Kelly said at-home tests are best if you are showing symptoms, but you have to use them correctly.

“With the at home tests, you really have to pay attention to the instructions to make sure you get an adequate sample,” she said. “You swab your nose, you follow the directions. But the at-home tests are another alternative to waiting on long lines to get tested.”

Kelly said tests like BinaxNow are not as accurate as the PCR test that is taken at a testing site and sent off to a lab. According to the Mayo Clinic, false negatives are possible with at-home tests, so you still might need to follow up with a PCR test depending on the situation.

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