DENVER — As COVID-19 and the omicron variant continue to surge across Colorado and the U.S., more people are seeking testing, with many turning to at-home tests.
Maybe you’re feeling under the weather. Maybe you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Or maybe you just have plans and want to take precautions. You take an at-home test, and it comes back positive. So, now what?
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, you should report positive results to your health care provider or local public health agency.
For people who don’t have a health care provider, they can also report a positive result to the state through its online reporting portal. After creating an account, select the test type “At-home antigen - self reported” to report a positive test result.
So far, CDPHE has received nearly 350,000 reports of positive test results from rapid tests.
However, only PCR and other molecular asset tests are included in the statewide test positivity rate, which means self-reported tests are not included and don’t affect the state’s COVID-19 data. As of Wednesday, the state's seven-day positivity rate is 25.19%, which is well over the state's goal to remain below 5%.
While it’s not required that people report or confirm positive test results, they should still follow isolation protocols.
The PCR test is considered the “gold standard” of COVID-19 testing because it can detect very small amounts of the virus, according to CDPHE. Labs can also conduct genome sequencing on positive PCR samples, which helps the state learn more about the spread of variants in Colorado.
CDPHE recommends anyone who has traveled internationally or been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 to get a PCR test three to five days after the possible exposure.
But with testing in high demand, be prepared to potentially wait in long lines at many COVID-19 testing sites across the state, with CDPHE seeing a 32% increase in visits to testing sites over the last week alone.
The department said rapid antigen tests are most useful when used as a screening test, and can alert individuals more quickly of a positive result. It’s recommended that individuals who are symptomatic and receive a negative rapid test result should verify the results with a PCR test.
President Joe Biden announced on Dec. 21 the plan to purchase 500 million at-home rapid COVID-19 tests that will be provided free of charge by mail to any American who wants one. While there’s no indication when those tests might be made available, Biden announced Tuesday that insurance companies will be required to reimburse policyholders who purchase at-home COVID-19 tests.
Gov. Jared Polis announced a similar initiative back in September, allowing Coloradans to sign up to receive free BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests.