JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – As of Tuesday, the federal government website offering free at-home COVID-19 tests is up and running.
Anyone with access to the internet, and a home address, can order up to four COVID-19 tests per household to be delivered right to the front door.
“I’ve already signed up and I think four [tests] are on their way to my home,” Holston Medical Group Urgent Care Physician Dr. Brian Enriquez said.
Enriquez explained, whether you buy them at a pharmacy or order them through the new federal website, the best to use the at-home COVID-19 test is when you begin to show symptoms.
“It really is just another tool to identify illness early,” he said.
PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests, administered by physicians and other healthcare professionals, are considered more accurate. However, Enriquez said that a positive result from an at-home test should be taken seriously.
“You can be very confident that you, in fact, have COVID-19,” he said.
Enriquez explained that false-negative results are more likely, particularly if an at-home test has been administered rather quickly after symptoms present themselves.
“Holding onto the test until you’re even sick for a day or two isn’t the worst idea,” he advised.
The potential for false-negative results is also a compelling reason, Enriquez said, to test yourself multiple times at least 24 hours apart.
“I really like the practice of ‘I’m making plans to see someone – I do or don’t feel well right now and doing a test right now,” he said. “If you have availability to do another test right before going into that activity, and if both of those tests are negative, you’re kind of in a much better place than if that second test that you take going into an activity is now positive.”
“You probably should avoid contact with other people,” he continued.
Through his continued work in the Urgent Care, Enriquez has seen an increased number of testing appointments and positive results.
“As we see numbers rise – it’s frightening to see it in person, but when I think about it, it’s even more worrisome because I wonder about the people that do have this illness, but aren’t coming in to be tested,” he said.
It’s the main reason why he believes additional at-home testing could be a game-changer when it comes to fighting COVID-19.
“These home tests really have the opportunity to identify more people that should stay home and isolate and quarantine – and all of the sudden that’s going to really translate to a decrease in cases in the long run,” he said.
You can access the website to order free at-home COVID-19 tests here. The tests will be delivered by the United States Postal Service and are expected to ship in 7-12 days.