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Oneida County struggles to record at-home COVID-19 tests

An example of an at-home COVID-19 test
An example of an at-home COVID-19 test

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente has noticed a growing trend in his county.

“Home tests have become more, more readily available and more expansive now than they were a year ago,” said Picente.

He’s talking about at-home COVID-19 tests. The take-home nasal swabs are typically about 96% effective at detecting COVID-19, but Picente’s issue with them is that not everyone is reporting their positive results.

“We know that at-home tests are being sold and going off the shelves in record numbers. So they're going somewhere,” he said. “Part of it is an assumption that, okay, if they're out there, and they're positive, we really need to know that.”

Picente’s team even recently put out an alert on Facebook pleading with residents to self-report their positive tests. But the post was met with several criticisms of the county’s faith in people to self-report.

One of the more popular comments read “people can't follow the honor system with masks, you think they're going to self-report positive diagnosis?? OK.”

But Picente is determined to track down unreported positive cases, saying it’s crucial to contact tracing.

“It's important for our health department to know, in terms of, not just data collection, but really in terms of contact tracing, and then really scoping and determining and trying to limit then the spread of COVID from a positive case,” said Picente.

He says that while the at-home test is very accurate, he recommends that if someone tests positive for COVID-19 at home, they should get that confirmed at an official testing site or doctor's office.

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.