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San Diegans begin receiving at-home COVID-19 antigen tests in mail

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 20:47:37-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- Two boxes containing four free at-home iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid tests have started arriving in mailboxes across San Diego County.

This comes less than a week after people began ordering them from the government’s website

“I was stunned at how easy it was,” said Gregg Ward, who ordered the tests on Thursday and received them Monday.

Ward said he hasn’t needed to use the tests yet, but having them handy provides peace of mind.

“Before these came in, we were searching around," he said. "I went from drug store to drug store, and no one had tests."

Another resident, Patti Thompson, said she received her tests within three days of ordering them. She used one recently after a possible COVID-19 exposure last week.

“Because I’m immunocompromised, I wanted to know for sure,” Thompson said. “I feel the at-home tests are a quick and easy way for someone like myself to check if you’re showing symptoms, and it relieved a lot of stress.”

She followed the instructions and, after 15 minutes, had a negative test result.

Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine physician at Sharp Rees-Stealy, said it’s good to use the tests if you have symptoms of COVID-19, plan to gather with someone who may be at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID, or if you have possibly been exposed to the virus.

She said it’s best to wait five days from the day of exposure to test yourself.

“If you have a positive test, you have symptoms and have been exposed, and there are high levels of COVID circulating, then they actually perform almost as well as those PCR tests. And so if you have a positive test, you can be quite confident that this is accurate,” she said. “At a time when the levels of COVID are low, and if you don’t have symptoms, then what we call the ‘pre-test probability is lower, and so they may not be as accurate in that setting.”

Dr. Olulade said if you test negative, it’s helpful to wait a couple of days before taking another test; however, if you test negative but have symptoms, you should isolate. She said it’s important to contact your medical care provider in case it’s something else, like the flu.

It’s important to follow the specific instructions on the iHealth test kits, from inserting the swab into your nostrils to mixing the swab in the tube, adding the sample to the test card and finally waiting 15 minutes for the results.

Some people have noticed two different expiration dates, one on the box and the other on the tube with the orange cap. Olulade said it’s best to follow the date on the tube rather than the box.