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What a Yale doctor says about the at-home COVID tests being handed out

The PCR is the test of choice if you're symptomatic, according to Dr. Campbell.

WALLINGFORD, Conn. — As COVID testing sites remain largely jammed across the state, communities continue to distribute rapid test kits to residents as fast as they can get them out. But because they are in short supply, a Yale doctor addressed who should receive them first.

Dr. Sheldon Campbell, Yale Medicine's Director of Laboratory Medicine, said those who are symptomatic, close contacts of someone testing positive or are in regular contact with the most vulnerable should be among the first in line for these coveted rapid test kits.

"I’ve had symptoms probably the last five days, sinuses, fatigue, a little fever so I’d like to get a test and you just can’t find one in the state," said Frank Yocca, of Wallingford, who was among the first in line for the Wallingford Health Department's rapid test kit giveaway at the Oakdale Theater Tuesday afternoon.

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But, rapid tests are not super sensitive, according to Dr. Campbell.

"I know that because my grandson tested negative and then a couple days later, I think they only show with symptoms," said Wallingford resident Eileen Anderson.

"I don’t really recommend them as the only test for people with symptoms," Dr. Campbell added.

He says people early on with COVID and those a week or more into disease can have lower viral loads.

"If you get a positive with the rapid test that’s OK but if you get a negative with the rapid test and you are symptomatic it’s best to get a PCR," Campbell said.

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So, how reliable are the results with these rapid tests? 

"You have to do them right," Campbell says, meaning follow the instructions on these kits carefully.

"You have to store them at the right temperature," Campbell notes. "Don’t leave them in your car especially here in the Connecticut weather or if we, heaven forbid, are still doing this in the summer, don’t leave them in the car in the summer."

And, even if you can't get your hands on one of these rapid tests, be diligent with performing risk mitigation.

"We use masks, we use our distancing, we don’t go see people if we are symptomatic," Dr. Campbell reminds us.

RELATED: COVID relief program for Connecticut's essential workers launches

Some health care officials have said this latest COVID crush could last several more weeks.

"It's just got everything so confused and people are so scared," said Jim Rainey of Wallingford. "It’s scary out here you know, especially when you’re old like me."

The PCR is the test of choice if you're symptomatic, according to Dr. Campbell. But, but right now, labs across the state are really stressed.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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