At-home test or PCR test: Which should you choose to make sure you’re COVID-19 negative?


(WGHP) — More than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina on Wednesday means more people at testing lines across the Triad.

FOX8 wanted to know when you should take an at-home test and when you should take a PCR test.

The two main things health leaders in the Triad want to emphasize: any test is a good test, and you should not get tested at the emergency room or at an urgent care.

According to Communicable Disease Nurse Supervisor with the Forsyth County Health Department Maura Trimble, take the at-home test first if you have the option.

“If you’re symptomatic and you do the antigen test and you’re positive, that’s as far as you need to take it,” said Trimble. “If you’re symptomatic and your rapid test is negative then we do recommend it’s back up by a PCR.”

Health experts also encourage people to read the directions carefully.

“It is best with the at-home test to wait at least 24 hours between the two tests on two different days, and that would be a little more accurate picture when using the self-test,” said Susan Banville, a communicable disease nurse with Forsyth County.

If you’re checking to see if you’re COVID-free before or after a gathering, an at-home test is a better option to keep the lines and strain on health care workers at testing facilities low.

Cone Health in Greensboro is looking to expand testing sites. Leaders say they are seeing a 30% no-show rate because people make appointments at multiple locations and don’t cancel the appointments they don’t show up to.

“We had like 900 appointments available at A&T and a lot of staff are standing there because people weren’t showing up for their appointment,” said David Thompson, Cone Health assistant director for infectious disease.

Cone Health leaders are hoping to increase their testing capacity to 6,500 a day to keep with demand.

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