RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the government pushing to supply Americans with almost 1 billion at-home COVID-19 test kits in the coming months, there are questions arising about how the results can be used.
Rather than wait in line at a testing center, some people are opting to take their tests at home. However, you need to be careful how you intend to use the results because they may not be accepted in certain circumstances.
Home COVID-19 test kits come in a variety of brand names and styles. Some require you to collect a sample at home, then return it to a lab for processing. Others kits are rapid tests, providing you with results right away.
Jamie Ketcham had two family members who used rapid tests.
“The results of the test showed pink and blue stripes,” she said. “From what I’ve read, the CDC says they are accurate and reliable.”
Accurate and reliable, yes — but not necessarily acceptable to an employer as she learned after her daughter and son took the tests.
“He was positive, so we notified his employer,” she said. “Then we tested my daughter, who also tested positive, so we notified her employer.”
The employer’s response to both family members stunned Ketcham.
“We received a call from both their jobs as well an email saying home tests are not valid and that they would not be honored or excused from work until they could go to a testing site,” she said.
So, what’s at play here? It turns out the tests were administered without anyone overseeing them.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Emergency Temporary Standards section 6J, a COVID-19 test “can not both self-administered and self-read unless observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth proctor.”
OSHA said in order for a test result to be valid, the specimen must meet one of these criteria:
- It must be processed in a laboratory
- Be a proctored over the counter test
- Be done where the collection and processing is observed by an employer
“I paid out of pocket, and I was upset,” Ketcham said. “I wasted $240 buying kits to find out no one accepted them, or the validity of them.”
Before you buy an at-home kit, check with your employer to determine how they will accept the results.
Another caution about at-home test kits: make sure you purchase a home test kit that’s FDA approved.
The FDA has a list of brands authorized.