Thousands of at-home COVID-19 test kits have been distributed throughout North Dakota, by the state and the federal government.

These at-home tests are now readily available through local health units as well.

The kits provide results in 15 minutes compared to the PCR test which can take up to 72 hours. There are two types of at-home test kits that can be picked up.

“Both of them are done in about the same way, both of them take 15 minutes both of them are nasal swabs that are fairly painless. The difference between the two is one is for two years and older and one is for 14 years and older,” said Lisa Otto-Westman, environmental health director at First District Health Unit.

The at-home test kits are different from the PCR test which captures the virus even when you don’t feel sick.
It takes much more viruses to be present for the rapid antigen test to do the same.

Otto-Westman said, “They’re different from the PCR test. The PCR test is a laboratory test. It’s more reliable, it’s a test that we do here and we send into the state for results.”

Timing is also important in determining the true outcome of a test. False positives are rare, however, false negatives are also common.

“You have to have enough virus in you for the test to detect it so more likely to show positive if you have symptoms,” she said.

You don’t have to wait to be sick to pick up at-home test kits although you should be symptomatic to get the best results.

That’s why officials encourage individuals to pick up free tests at any local health offices or designated pick-up locations.

Testing is also advised before and after attending large events or gatherings.

If you’re unsure of your results, Otto-Westman says repeat after 24 hours then follow up with your local health unit for a PCR test if you wish.