POCATELLO — The COVID-19 testing site located at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena will now offer antigen testing, one type of rapid COVID-19 testing. The site will continue to offer PCR testing, which is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection.

The PCR test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even in those who have no symptoms. Rapid antigen tests are most accurate in a patient who is having symptoms of COVID-19. As a result, to qualify for rapid antigen testing, individuals must be symptomatic for COVID-19, and symptoms must have started no more than seven days prior to being tested. While the rapid test can get you results very quickly, the results have a higher chance of missing an active infection (a false-negative result).

The current recommendation is to have a confirmation test performed (the PCR test) if you still have symptoms and have had a negative rapid test. This is especially true if you’ve had a high-risk exposure. A high-risk exposure is considered more than 15 minutes of contact with a COVID-positive individual in a 24-hour period and you have been within 6 feet of this individual. If confirmation PCR testing is required following a negative rapid test, there is no charge for the rapid testing.

“Our target goal is to increase (the) availability of rapid testing to K-12 students, teachers and school staff. Other target populations include health care workers and uninsured individuals. No symptomatic person will be denied rapid antigen testing due to not being part of a target group,” said Paige Ellis, Southeastern Idaho Public Health nurse.

The ISU COVID-19 testing site is located at the north side of the Holt Arena on the Idaho State University campus in Pocatello. The drive-thru test site is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

SIPH has a call center to field questions from the community and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can reach the hotline at 208-234-5875.

For Southeast Idaho specific information about the novel coronavirus, visit siphidaho.org/coronavirus.php.

For Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, visit coronavirus.idaho.gov.

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