MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Experts say testing is the key to containing COVID-19 and reopening more industries safely. But a new nationwide survey shows more than a dozen states aren’t releasing antigen test results.
The newest antigen test made by Abbott can detect the coronavirus in 15 minutes.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Steven Threlkeld said the antigen test isn’t as accurate as the PCR tests which are the nasal or throat swabs.
But Threlkeld said antigen testing may be what we need right now.
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“In some ways, the rapid antigen test is the better test for what we’re talking about and that is screening to see if someone is contagious on a football team or in a classroom or what have you. Those things look to be very important moving forward,” said Threlkeld who works at Baptist Memorial Hospital.
A new Kaiser Health News survey shows Tennessee, 20 other states and the District of Columbia do not report all antigen test results.
Taking a closer look at the Mid-South, the survey shows officials in Arkansas release antigen test results in its total testing numbers, COVID case counts and requires providers to report them too.
Mississippi requires providers to report antigen tests for positive tests and Tennessee doesn’t include the antigen test results – positive or negative – in its total testing number.
FOX13 reached out to the Shelby County Health Department to find out why Tennessee isn’t releasing this data.
A spokesperson for the department said the director didn’t have information about this.
Dr. Threlkeld said one of the reasons why this information may not be readily available is because the test is very new.
“What I’m saying is that we need more of it to be able to report. I don’t think there are large numbers of people doing that yet,” said Threlkeld. “Some of the early initial antigen tests proved to be not terribly specific and some of them weren’t the greatest tests but I think the things that are on the horizon are on things that we’re really looking at.”
FOX13 also reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health about the release of antigen test results but we haven’t heard back.
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