Haven't been COVID tested in a while? Take a look at your options

Nick Natario Image
Monday, August 9, 2021
Haven't been COVID tested in a while? Take a look at your options
It seems a lot can change in a year of a pandemic, but one thing that remains is COVID testing. And with the delta variant, Texas has seen testing numbers double in the last month.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As COVID-19 cases surge, there are more options this summer to get tested for the virus, including some that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Testing numbers on the rise

Both the state and the Houston-area are seeing a lot more people get tested for COVID.

Last week in Harris County, 121,132 tests were administered. A month ago, during the same week, it was just 69,114.

Statewide, 685,700 tests were conducted last week. A month ago, 327,400 tests were conducted around the same time.

There are more test options now

In the past, you may have relied on your doctor or a COVID testing site ran by the county or the city.

Although those are still available, you can now go to your local pharmacy and get a test.

CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens are offering free tests.

City and county testing sites offer a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said is the standard.

The pharmacies offer PCR exams, but they also offer a rapid antigen test that can give results in hours.

Slow test turnaround times

With more people getting tested, it's slowing down turnaround time.

Harris County said it could take five days to get your results. In Fort Bend County, it could take a week.

CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens said the majority of its results come back in less than 48 hours.

Labcorp, which handles pharmacy testing, told ABC13 that despite the increased demand, its turnaround time remains at one to two days after it receives the specimen.

At-home COVID tests now available

It's true!

CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Walmart sell at-home COVID kits.

Both the kits, one created by Abbott and the other by Quidel, have received approval from the Federal Drug Administration for emergency authorization use. Both tests can be used on children as young as two.

The companies said when compared to PCR tests, their tests can identify a positive case about 85% of the time, and a negative test 99% of the time.

The Abbott kit, called, BinaxNOW, gives results in 15 minutes. The Quidel kit, which is called QuickVue, gives results in 10 minutes.

Both packages include two tests.

After taking one test, the same person should take a second test 24 to 32 hours later. Prices vary for each kit, but each costs about $24.

Who should get a COVID test?

The CDC has recently updated guidance as more people get vaccinated and the delta variant spreads throughout the country.

Whether you're vaccinated or not, if you're experiencing symptoms, which include fever, cough or loss of smell and taste, you should get tested.

There is a difference though if you've been exposed to someone with the virus.

If you're fully vaccinated, you should get tested three to five days after the exposure.

If you're unvaccinated, the CDC said you should get tested immediately, quarantine and get tested again five to seven days later, or if you start experiencing symptoms.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.