Arkansas's COVID-19 Antigen Testing Capability Expected To Increase

Sep 14, 2020

Arkansas's capacity for rapid-result antigen testing for COVID-19 is expected to increase this week.
Credit Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansans with symptoms of COVID-19 may be able to get test results more quickly. This week, the Arkansas Department of Health expects a shipment of almost 13,000 individual antigen tests usable with the BD Veritor System machines purchased in July.

The department's Deputy Director of Administration, Don Adams says the antigen tests can deliver results in less than 30 minutes.

"They're not quite as sensitive as the PCR tests that are performed in the commercial labs, so we have confidence in the results, but we do require or recommend only testing individuals that have COVID-like symptoms."

Adams says the risk of a false negative is significant enough that those who test negative with the antigen test are recommended to follow up with a PCR test. The state has 200 rapid-response machines for the nasal-swab antigen tests but lacked the testing kits.

ADH plans to deliver the BD Veritor machines to the state’s nearly 100 local health units once the kits arrive. Schools are among the top priorities for the remaining machines.

"Obviously the K-12 and higher education [institutions], both the students and staff, are a priority for testing and so we're trying to distribute those around the state," Adams said. "Of course, they have access to the local testing units. And we're also looking at areas of the state where testing is not as available."

At least 18 school districts have reported five or more positive cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 15, according to the ADH data.