Indiana limits COVID-19 rapid testing due to shortage

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 4:55 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the country struggles with COVID-19 rapid test shortages, the Indiana Department of Health has limited who can receive a rapid test at local health departments.

Effective Tuesday, those 18 and younger and 50 and older with COVID-19 symptoms can receive a rapid test at Indiana health departments; people who do not fall in either category must receive a PCR test, which could take up to three days for results to process.

Dr. Eric Yazel with the Clark County Health Department told WAVE 3 News he assumes the state selected those age groups to keep schools open and to protect people whose age puts them at higher risk for severe disease.

However, he said the state leaving out people 19 to 49-year-olds could create challenges.

“There’s a lot of 18 to 50 year-olds who have comorbidities where it’d sure be nice to know if they have COVID-19 (quickly),” Yazel said. “Then from the school side of things, one of our biggest challenges has been teachers and support staff (getting sick), and that’s where we’ve had to go virtual in our county for those reasons, so not being able to rapid test that population is going to be a major challenge also.”

Hundreds of people took to the Clark County Health Department’s Facebook post announcing the change, worried they can’t the 15 minute results from a rapid test they need for work or travel.

“From that side of things, rapid tests are very nice,” Yazel said. “On the flip side, the PCR tests are much more accurate, but you do have to sacrifice that turnaround time. You’re looking at about 48 hours to get those results back.”

Yazel said people who don’t fall in the state’s 18 and younger and 50 and older symptomatic individuals, people who aren’t high risk, or people needing tests for work or travel should not use rapid tests. Instead, they should find a PCR test.

“If the results of your rapid test are going to be actionable, if you’re high risk or are going to expose someone whose high risk, absolutely it’s reasonable to get a rapid test, but if you’re just doing it out of curiosity or screening for work, please use the PCR and conserve those rapid tests for people who are higher risk,” Yazel said.

If you need a COVID-19 test, Yazel said do not go to the ER or an urgent care.

Instead, click or tap here to find an Indiana testing site near you.

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