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Health

How to report your positive at-home COVID-19 test result

covid test results
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As COVID-19 infections surge across Ohio to levels not seen since last winter, many residents are using at-home self-administered tests to determine whether it's safe to go to work or gather for holiday celebrations.

The results of many of those at-home tests are not reported to health authorities to be included in official counts of the virus' spread. That leaves some worried that the number of infections may be undercounted.

"There’s a lot of concern that they’re underreported because not everyone understands, and some folks are doing it just for their own knowledge. They don’t want it reported," said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda. "You’re supposed to report it, but there’s no way to know if you don’t report it."

Official counts include the number of infections recorded when people take a test through a doctor’s office, pharmacy, health department, or use a proctored at-home test kit. A person watches the patient administer the test via a smart phone app or website.

But some at-home tests do not include proctoring. In those cases, the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health, and spokespeople from Ohio health systems recommend that people report positive COVID-19 tests to their local health departments.

Some health departments in Ohio have dedicated phone lines or websites where users can report their test results. Others, however, say they're overwhelmed by the number of calls they're currently receiving and do not have the capacity to take reports. 

Those departments are asking for patience as they try to determine the best way to accurately capture and report the number of COVID-19 cases.

Health officials in Canton say they recommend that anyone who tests positive using an unproctored at-home test sign up for a proctored test through a pharmacy or a health department. That serves two purposes: It will report the positive case to the state and it will provide the patient with a record of their infection – something employers may require.

But appointments are in short supply.

In the meantime, Jim Adams, health commissioner at Canton City Public Health, reminds the public that if you get a positive test result — whether through a test at the health department or using an over-the-counter at-home test — your course of action should be the same: Stay home, try to isolate, wash your hands frequently, follow the CDC guidelines and wear a mask when you’re out in public. 

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