Hospitals see decrease in PCR tests as home testing goes up

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -As the availability and popularity of home tests rise, hospitals are seeing a decrease in the amount of PCR tests they are performing, but is that a good thing?

Dr. Erik St. Pierre of Northern Maine Medical Center says, “The home testing defiantly makes it easier for people to actually find out if they have COVID, the problem is, especially if you’ve been vaccinated, many of the home tests don’t turn positive until several days into the illness so that can be a little bit challenging at this point, plus the home tests aren’t as accurate as a PCR test so it can miss illness.”

Dr. Jay Reynolds from AR Gould Hospital says, “a positive result in a person with symptoms is very likely to be a true positive, but as we talked a little while ago, a negative result particularly early on in an illness or after exposure doesn’t give you total reassurance.”

Dr. St. Pierre adds, ”If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID and you test negative, I would recommend you test on the daily until you possibly may turn positive and often times it may not be until the third through the fifth day that you’re gonna test positive with an antigen test.”

Dr. Regen Gallagher of Cary Medical Center says, “Even when we were doing all of the testing in labs and home testing wasn’t available, not everyone got tested so we might’ve had a better idea, but we’ve never had a full accounting of how much Covid is in the community it’s always been a rough guess. we use what we get through our labs to kind of guesstimate what it looks like in the rest of the community, between that and the wastewater testing and various other things we still have a reasonable idea”

Dr. St. Pierre, “It’s pretty rare that we are having people coming in to get testing at our emergency department. we still see quite a bit of people at our outpatient testing center, but with the availability of home testing that certainly has decreased and also local pharmacies are also offering tests”

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