Be prepared for a regular PCR test instead of COVID-19 rapid test

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – More and more people are getting tested for COVID-19 again. But more people mean fewer COVID-19 rapid tests, which is becoming a problem.

Many people would prefer to get their test results back within just 15 or 20 minutes with a rapid test, but nurses say those tests need to be saved for patients who are severely ill.

Across America, there’s a national shortage for rapid COVID-19 tests as lines start to get long again at testing sites.

“We do have them on order. We are receiving some in, but we need to conserve those for patients who are severely ill, that possibly may need antibody treatment. We also have to reserve them for shelters and daycares for outbreaks,” Larry Snidow, Registered Nurse at West Virginia Health Right said.

West Virginia Health Right has been daily testing. Staff say last week they did 600 tests in a day, and things continue to be steady.

“We can do the regular PCR test. We send those off to a lab. We can do as many of those as we can handle. The rapid test varies every day just depending on the situation,” Snidow said.

Regular PCR tests take 24 to 48 hours to get results back, while rapid tests can take just as little as 15 to 20 minutes. Nurses say they’re trying the best they can.  

“There’s some frustration and it’s understandable. We understand people have to work and not being able to rapid test your children and get them back in school. It creates a strain,” Isaiah Merritt, Registered Nurse at West Virginia Health Right, said.

Experts explain whether it’s 15 minutes or two days. Both tests are very accurate.

“The rapid test is basically like a pre-programmed PCR. So, we have two machines we can run a test on in 15 minutes if we have the material, the kits to run them,” Snidow said.

Nurses say they hope this doesn’t stop people from getting tested. People still need to be tested if they feel ill or have been around someone who has been exposed to the virus.

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