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At-home COVID-19 tests could be a useful tool this Thanksgiving

Courtesy of Tami Marsters

This year’s Thanksgiving is, again, happening in the shadow of COVID-19.

But this year, there are more tools available to have a safer holiday gathering, like vaccines.

Also new this year are at-home COVID-19 tests. Kenai Public Health Nurse Tami Marsters said they’re a great tool for people to use before and after their Thanksgiving gatherings.

“Those of us that are worried about it — it’s just a way that we can kind of put our minds at ease," she said.

The at-home kits are rapid tests and detect viral antigens. They require more viral load to trigger a positive result than the kind of test you might get at a testing center, Marsters said.

That’s why there are two tests in each kit — one for now and one for a day or two from now, when someone who just contracted COVID-19 is likely to have more viral load.

“However, if you test positive, then you don’t need to do the second one," Marsters said. "And if you are positive, then we ask that you, of course, isolate for 10 days and call your contacts.”

The tests are quick, producing results in about 10 to 15 minutes. And they can be taken at home or on the go.

“For instance, I use them when I travel, because I’m so paranoid about giving someone COVID when I’m travel," Marsters said. "When I get to my destination, three days after I get there, I do one of the tests and then I do the second one 24 to 36 hours later."

Marsters said they’re a good tool to use before Thanksgiving gatherings. She recommends taking a test two to three days before a gathering, and then the morning of. The same goes for after gatherings, too.

But if you're looking for a documented result — for school, work or travel — you’re better off going to a testing center.

You can get free take-home COVID-19 tests at Kenai Public Health. Elsewhere, they’re about $25.

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