‘It’s been overwhelming’: How you can sign up for rapid COVID-19 testing in Southwest Virginia

‘The problem with COVID testing is the time it takes to get the results’

ROANOKE, Va. – Part of slowing the spread of COVID-19 is more testing. With so many people confusing symptoms or experiencing none at all, more testing will expose who has the virus and get them isolated sooner.

While many health departments continue to host drive-thru testing events, more local clinics are ramping up rapid testing. Through this process, results are generated in just 15 minutes.

“The rapid test kind of gives you that immediate result," explained family nurse practitioner Maureen Milauskas. "It’s such a relief to know that you’re not going to harm your family members, you can go back to work or what normal life is these days.”

AFC Urgent Care in Roanoke and ArcPoint Labs in Salem both offer the antigen tests.

“The problem with COVID testing is the time it takes to get the results. We’ve had people to tell us they’ve been tested at work and had to wait six days for a result. Well, within six days the number of people you can possibly infect in that time period is really astronomical," said Jeff Howard with ARCPoint Labs.

Both labs use similar tests and require appointments. AFC Urgent Care uses the “Sofia” test, while ARCPoint Labs utilize the “BD Veritor.”

With convenience comes a level of uncertainty. Howard admits there is a higher chance of a false negative with the antigen (rapid) testing as compared to the lab (PCR) tests, which can take 48-72 hours to process.

AFC Urgent Care estimates 85% accuracy with the rapid test. ARCPoint Labs reports 84% sensitivity and 100% specificity.

Insurance covers some testing. AFC Urgent Care estimates rapid testing to cost around $50 and lab tests $150. ARCPoint charges $139 for rapid testing.

Meanwhile, as the nation and Virginia see more COVID-19 cases, a new Centers for Disease Control report finds it takes less than 15 minutes of close contact to be infected with the virus.

“There are still some unknowns about this virus transmission.”

Dr. Karen Shelton, Health Director, Mount Rogers Health District

Previously, the CDC said you needed to spend 15 consecutive minutes with a COVID-19 patient.

“I don’t really feel like this changes the guidelines of what we need to be doing. It might put more people in quarantine and slow further the spread of the disease, which is our whole goal,” stated Dr. Karen Shelton, health director for the Mount Rogers Health District.

Dr. Shelton says key behaviors like wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing are the best practices and will remain the only way to slow the spread.

“There are really no safe spaces unless you’re inside your home…if everyone is well. As you go out and about and live your life to do the things you need to do, you just need to do them more smartly," said Dr. Shelton.

About the Author: