Public Health Considerations for COVID-19 At-Home Test Kit
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several COVID-19 at-home test kits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated public guidance for the use of FDA-approved at-home COVID-19 test kits on December 6, 2021.1 The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognizes that at-home COVID-19 test kits are a positive step toward helping individuals take control of their own health. These tests allow individuals to purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 test, perform the test in the comfort of their home, and then learn their COVID- 19 test result. While this is a powerful tool for individual use, DHHS will not systematically collect, or report at-home COVID-19 test results or recognize the results of these tests for public health purposes.
Since at-home test kits cannot be verified by public health, DHHS will not request individuals, laboratories, medical providers, or local health departments to collect or report these test results. The reason for not collecting these results is because Public Health Officials cannot determine the quality of specimen collection, verify who took the test, or verify the performance of the COVID-19 test to ensure that a correct result is reported. To this end, all eligible individuals are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidance and complete the COVID-19 vaccination series and get a booster dose as soon as able.2 Additionally, individuals using a COVID-19 at-home test kit should continue to reference the CDC website’s instructions on measures they should take to protect themselves and their community if their at-home test result is positive or negative.3,4
CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days if the individual is asymptomatic or has resolving symptoms, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must follow the isolation measures.
DHHS defines resolving symptoms as at least 24 hours have passed with no fever and without the use of fever-reducing medication; and other symptoms are improving. Loss of taste and smell might last for weeks or months after recovery but should not delay ending isolation. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html.
Health Care Workers:
On December 23, 2021, the CDC released guidance for a shortened quarantine option for healthcare workers (HCW) to help in situations where there are shortages of HCWs.5 This guidance states HCWs with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages. Employers of HCWs can work with their Human Resources and with their HWC staff to implement a policy for their employees to utilize at-home tests if necessary. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk- assesment-hcp.html
For updated guidance, please review the DPBH Technical Bulletin website and Nevada’s COVID-19 response website regularly.6 ,7 If you have other questions regarding the COVID-19 testing and disease investigation response, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.