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IDOH working to find more COVID-19 rapid test kits as some local health departments run out

Posted at 7:06 PM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 19:31:12-05

Ind. – COVID-19 testing is a hot commodity across Central Indiana in early December and some testing sites are running out of rapid test kits.

In an email update, the Fishers Health Department announced last week it had no more rapid tests.

Madison County’s Administrator said in an email it only has enough rapid tests to last through Monday evening, possibly through Tuesday.

On Facebook, Boone County announced it is switching over to PCR tests when the testing clinic reopens on Wednesday. It said “nationwide supply issues” depleted its stockpile of rapid tests.

“Rapid tests are good. They’re not as good as a PCR test, but in the absence of a rapid test, get the PCR,” IUPUI’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health Director of Epidemiology Education Thomas Duszynski said.

A new variant, respiratory season and the holidays are all contributing to an increased demand for testing.

The epidemiologist said while rapid tests are convenient, the PCR test is “the gold standard.” His advice to Hoosiers who want to get tested right now is simple.

“I think the best advice would be plan your testing. In other words where am I going? Who am I going to see? What is their vaccination status?" Duszynski said. "A lot of these places will take appointments for testing. So based on your plan, when should you get tested... what happens if you actually test positive? What’s your plan after that? We all hope that everyone tests negative that would be great, but if you do test positive what’s your back up plan?”

As for holiday gatherings, Duszynski suggests Hoosiers get tested as close to the date of that get together as possible. Results from PCR tests can take up to several days.

“I think this trend is going to stick with us for a while where testing is going to remain high. That’s good because it gives us some amount of disease in the community,” Duszynski said.

In October, the Biden Administration announced it was buying $1 billion worth of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests. At the time, the White House said the number of those tests would quadruple by this month.

A spokesperson with the Indiana Department of Heath wrote in an email:

"The Indiana Department of Health lab is able to monitor for the omicron variant. Indiana continues to participate in the CDC’s variant surveillance program and conducts our own sequencing in addition to the CDC program. Variants are identified by conducting genomic sequencing on specimens that contain SARS-CoV-2.

We have reduced the allocation of BinaxNOW test kits due to limited availability, and we are working to acquire additional rapid tests from other sources. There is also ample PCR testing available, and our laboratory partners provide results quickly. We have established an online portal through which communities can request testing and vaccination clinics and continue to partner with counties to identify locations for additional test sites to help meet the demand for both vaccination and testing."