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At-home COVID-19 testing coming to a doorstep near you

In an effort to increase testing capacity across the country, Tuesday the FDA announced emergency approval of the first at-home testing kits.

NEW ORLEANS — Testing for COVID-19 will soon available at your doorstep. Order a kit and test yourself, from the comfort of your couch.

 “We definitely need more testing capacity, but we also need accurate testing,” said Dr. Lucio Miele, Chair of the Department of Genetics at LSU Health Sciences Center.

In an effort to increase testing capacity across the country, Tuesday the FDA announced emergency approval of the first at-home testing kits. It’s a nasal swab, called Pixel, sold by LabCorp. Once you get the kit, you collect your own sample and then send it off to a lab. Proper testing and handling cause concern with Dr. Miele.

 “You’d have to truly teach the individuals who take the test to perform a proper swabbing technique,” said Miele.

Even if a proper sample is collected, because of how the virus is made up, shipping becomes the next concern.  

 “If the specimen isn’t handled properly and kept at the proper temperature throughout its journey from the patient to the lab, there is a risk of false negatives,” said Miele.

The at-home tests will first only be available to health care workers and first responders. They’ll be available to everyone else in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, testing sites, like the one in St. James Parish will continue.

 “On-site testing will still stay,” said Eric Deroche, Director of Emergency Preparedness.

Deroche says those at-home tests will not replace testing sites but adding them to the mix could help, if done correctly.  

“The more tests we have completed, we have a very good picture of what’s going on in our state and in our community,” said Deroche.

While Dr. Miele says false negatives can happen at testing sites as well, work must continue to make sure all testing is accurate.

“We’re not at a point where any of this is completely standardized yet.  We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet,” said Miele.

Testing from the comfort of your couch comes with a price tag of $119 dollars and a survey to determine eligibility. You can check with your insurance provider to see if your health plan will cover the cost.

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